Evaristo Soares, 40, stands next to his bamboo rainwater collection system. His remote rural community is a three-hour walk from the nearest market. Climate change has disrupted the rainy seasons they have depended on for generations, making it especially challenging for this community of 39 families to provide for themselves. Rains are scarce, and water is precious.
Earlier this year, Mercy Corps taught Evaristo and the other farmers in his community to build rainwater harvesting systems out of bamboo to collect precious rainwater and better endure Timor-Leste’s worsening dry seasons. Before this rainwater collection system, Evaristo and his community had to walk 40 minutes to the nearest water source — and during the dry season, there was often nothing but a dry riverbed.
Evaristo says “We love the keyhole gardening and the rainwater harvesting because these two things support each other. Before, we depended on the coffee. We harvested it once or twice a year and had to wait to sell and be able to buy things. Now we have keyhole gardening and we have water to water our vegetables and all the vegetation in the garden. Even in just two months we can harvest something and sell it.”