Mambanje Community Garden & Solar Borehole

Improving access to fresh water and methods of nutritional food security in Mambanje Village.
Zimbabwe - Hwange
Key Points
  • The area is prone to drought periods, having experienced harsh heat and low rainfall in recent years

  • Food security is a critical challenge in the region, with subsistence farming a challenge due to climatic conditions

  • This project aims to improve access to solar powered borehole water as well as drought resistant agricultural techniques & technologies

The Mambanje community is a special one and critical to conservation efforts in Hwange, Zimbabwe. Located just 2km away from the Hwange National Park border, it is important that the community is aware of their responsibility of taking care of and living in harmony with their natural surroundings, whilst at the same time to be able to prosper and be financially sustained. Through all of the different ABCF programmes, we aim to empower the community with education and sustainable income generation such that they understand their role in the ecosystem and in being very close to important natural biodiversity. Through our education projects, the community is learning more about protecting and living in harmony with their environment, while empowering them financially. This is is helping to prevent one of the biggest problems in the area, poaching.

The area is inhabited by the Nambya people. It is a hot area with minimal rains and thus their main crops grown are small grains such as wheat and sorghum. As descendants of Zimbabwe’s Rozvi empire who are known for their farming, cattle rearing and mining skills, the Nambya people’s favoured economic activity is cattle rearing and farming. The Mambanje village elders speak of a prosperous lifestyle in the past as they used to have a river within the village which unfortunately dried up in the 1970’s leaving the community with no source of water during the dry season. This is when the community started realising serious problems as the main livelihoods were closely linked with the river and its water.

There is currently only one source of water in the whole Mambanje village through a borehole that was sunk in a partnership with African Bush Camps Foundation in 2014. The only other borehole that was in the village is no longer supplying any water due to mechanical faults that constantly affect the old bush pump.  The one functioning solar-powered borehole that is situated at the Mambanje Primary School is unable to meet the community’s requirements where the school and community have to share the limited water supply. The community has therefore requested the drilling of a borehole to alleviate the water challenges and offer an alternative income generation source.

The water shortage is critical in Mambanje village with only 1 working borehole servicing both the school and greater community. Currently, households are limited to 20 litres of water per day at the school while school children can take back home only 5 litres per day. The school is now limited to the amount of water it can use which has affected the output of the school’s nutrition garden.

The community lies in Zimbabwe’s Farming Region IV which is characterized by annual rainfall of 450-650 mm, severe dry spells during the rainy season, and frequent drought and this limited rainfall speaks volumes as to why areas such as Mambanje are still underdeveloped as water is a key and fundamental resource for rural communities and their livelihoods.

Desperate community members digging for water on the dry Mambanje River bed to provide water for themselves and their livestock.


Mambanje River during the first rains of the year. This is often the only source of water available for cattle and gardening.

The situation is equally dire for livestock as herders now have to move their livestock as early as 6 am in the morning for a 15km walk in search of water in a neighbouring village. The productivity of the community has been affected in a major way as a lot of time is lost in search of water. There is a danger of disease outbreaks in the community as people become less hygienic as a result of limited water supply. The Mambanje community is therefore desperately in need of an additional borehole in their village to ensure adequate water supply to all; human and livestock.

The current situation in the Mambanje community is detrimental to some of the efforts that ABCF and other partners have engaged in promoting education and empowerment in the area. The girl child has particularly been affected as fetching water has become a chore that takes up most of their time meaning that they are unable to fully focus fully on their education and study. In homesteads where there are no herders or other elders, the younger boys who should be in school are now being forced to skip school in search of water for livestock. There are approximately 500 cattle in Mambanje and over 1500 goats which all require adequate water availability to thrive. Through a separate cattle boma and lion guardian initiative that we established in 2016, we keep track of livestock in the village and protect them from predator attacks through community bomas and also providing veterinary care for livestock – Access to water is the most critical need for the Mambanje community and realizing this need will result in many other benefits relating to education, food security and health, all factors that are critical to breaking the cycle of poverty.

African Bush Camps Foundation has community infrastructure and community empowerment founding the basis of its ethics and principles as an organisation. The Community borehole and garden project offers an opportunity for the organization to spread its interface in the rural communities affected by abject poverty and the primary support needed by the organization so to have a profound impact is capital and infrastructure. The organization’s ability to see an infrastructure project through with the community’s involvement in previous cases is evidence enough that it has the ability to expedite development by involving the community consequently cementing the community’s investment in their own development and empowerment.

Gender group to benefit.

The project will benefit the entire Mambanje community which is made up of approximately 1,200 inhabitants from 136 households who will no longer have to focus most of their time and energy on finding water. However, the distinct gender group to benefit will be the Majority females-60% group. This is largely because of the Foundation’s efforts in providing affirmative action of previous gender disparities and also because the populace to be most affected by abject poverty is the women populace. There are several issues that affect women in general and one of those is the social structure which is patriarchal in nature and it is no different for the Mambanje community. This often relegates women to menial roles that do not empower them. Consequently, a project of this nature will empower these women without challenging the patriarchal social structure of the community. With the availability of water, the community will become productive through setting up community gardens as income generating projects and for own use. The project will allow the community to practice their true way of life as livestock and crop farmers; both being activities that are dependent on a reliable water source.

Age Group to benefit.

The majority of age groups that will be catered for by this project primarily will be Young adult (19-25) and Adults (26-64). The Adolescents age group (13-18) will also be awarded an opportunity to be part of the project especially from the age of 15, this is exclusively for those who come from child-headed families and those that dropped out of school and wish to use generated income to pursue their education. However, all the other age groups are most likely to benefit from the project in an indirect manner at some point as the project grows. The initial target group will be 5 groups of these Young Adults and Adults. Each group will comprise of 8 members each with a plot of land they will farm within the community garden.

Project Goal

Income secure, self –reliant community living in a hygienic, healthy and sustainable environment.


  1. Alleviate the water problems being faced by the community for their domestic use and livestock
  2. To establish a healthy, income and food secure community through a community garden.
  3. Reducing the pressure currently being placed on the single borehole at the school Movement of community members within the school to collect water is a major disturbance to school children and has resulted in the school nutrition garden struggling due to limited supply of water


Zimbabwe - Hwange
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