Fellow Since 1997
This profile was prepared when Zepheniah Maseko was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1997.
The New Idea
Zepheniah Phiri Maseko, a farmer himself, has devised a system of harvesting and conserving water that alters a system that perpetually makes farmers in southern Zimbabwe vulnerable to soil degradation and drought. Where there is water there is life-this is what his "water planting" system is about. It catches whatever periodic rainfall is available and does not allow it to run off; constructs catchment systems with available local materials; plants terraces with deep rooted crops that stabilize the soil and, in effect, trap the water; and creates well sinks at the lower end of property boundaries to catch water that infiltrates through the terraced fields. Water can thus be recycled or reapplied to the fields. With demonstrated creativity and very little resources, Phiri has created a "Garden of Eden" in Zimbabwe. His model holds a potentially powerful lesson about the issue of water in developing countries.