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Ram Pump Irrigation Systems in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa: Impacts on Food Security, Health and Subsistence Agriculture

Pietermaritzburg, South Africa


During June 2006, our JHU Engineers without Borders (EWB-JHU) team conducted health indicator and exposure assessments of households in two rural communities in the South African Province, KwaZulu Natal (KZN). The assessment was a pilot study conducted in conjunction with the installation of sustainable ram pump irrigation systems to support vegetable garden cooperatives in the rural communities of Inchanga and Maphaphateni, within the “Valley of 1000 Hills” area. The CLF innovation grant allowed us to return to KZN in June 2007 to assess the public health and community benefits of the June 2006 ram pump installations, as well to conduct baseline assessments in a new community, Phateni, prior to installation of the ram pump irrigation system. Our follow-up assessment in June 2007 consisted of gardener (n=24) and non-gardener (n=16) household surveys in Maphaphateni, key informant interviews, observational assessments, and microbiological water testing (n = 40), to evaluate the impacts of the irrigation systems on the well-being of the community, in terms of increased food security, water usage, vegetable production and variety, health status, and income. A baseline assessment, consisting of gardener (n=22) and non-gardener (n=25) household surveys, key informant interviews, observational assessments, and microbiological water testing (n = 47), was conducted in the community of Phateni.

Although the funded project is complete, related work is ongoing through volunteer effort and personally donated funding.


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  • Pietermaritzburg, South Africa - selected city