A creative solution for water catchment

The team in charge of agricultural projects at Grupo Sofonias in Nicaragua has developed an ecological and economical solution for water catchments in seasonal rivers.


Small rivers that dry up during part of the year often maintain some groundwater close to the surface and sometimes there are small ponds that do not dry up. If you want to install a small irrigation system you necessarily need to use one of those ponds as a place to install the pump, or have to construct a catchment basin yourself.

As part of a project working with small farms the team had to install several irrigation systems. The local river does dry up during part of the season, but they found a slow flow of water close to the surface. For ecological reasons it is important not to interrupt this flow with a catchment made of solid walls, and earlier experiences with ponds constructed out of rocks had not been satisfactory. Whenever the river flow increased because of a strong rain, the rocks were moved and the pond had to be reconstructed after the riverbed dried up.

They presented the problem to their colleagues who are builders, and in a lively discussion somebody had the idea to use wire mesh baskets to build the pond. This of course is a well known technology to build dry walls on hillsides, and a first attempt was made with such baskets. It worked very well, the water keeps flowing and the pump can be installed and after the first rains it was found that cleaning the pond was not a difficult task.

Now they are welding the baskets already in the form the pond should have, transport them to the site and then fill them with rocks. It is a fast and easy task, and assures good performance. It is not a big invention, but it saves time and energy for the farmers.

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Estuardo QuispilloEstuardo Quispillo
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In 2005, SofoNic has started a dual education program for masons in Nicaragua, using its house-building programs as a base. Teaming up with the local technical school in Jinotepe they are graduating about ten masons every year since. Most f them have found jobs in construction or have started a business on their own. SofoNic has contracted several of them as master masons in the reconstruction programs in Haiti.