Small Ponds, Big Impacts
Few slogan state that “small is beautiful”, “think big, start small”, “a long walk, start with a small step” etc. Each slogan has its own meaning and its relevance. My new article here is focusing on small water ponds. In Cambodia, we have plenty of rainfalls, which are ranging from 1,400 to 4,000 mm/year, from lowland to coastal and mountainous areas. In some countries, people would be very happy if they get 500 mm/year. However, we often heard complaints from some farmers, that they lack water for irrigation, agricultural production, livestock raising etc. To me, the main problem is the lack of awareness, knowledge and tools for rain water harvesting and poor water management skills.
Inside my 0.5ha farm in Battambang, I have constructed a small pond (20*25*3m=1,500m³). It costs me around U$1,400, at that time, in 2005. Since then, we do not worry about water for basic home consumption, our fruit tree and our vegetable garden. What could we gain from this small water pond?
- We are able to harvest and store parts of the rainwater falling down on our farm;
- In good year, we have full pond which provides more than enough water for our fruit trees and gardens during the dry season (November-April). When the rainy (May-October) season starts, the pond will be refilled;
- The pond provides the small amount of natural fish, water legumes and aquatic produces for humans, frogs, birds etc and it helps to keep this small plot of land looks so beautiful and fresh, even in the hot season;
- The pond provides drinking water for our chickens and goose, also as playing and bathing ground for them;
- It produces plenty of green manure annually, to be harvested and used on farm;
- It is a nice place for me/us to sit, relax and observe the nature and environment after my hard works on this farm. Every time I come here, I spend at least three hours in the morning and one or two hours in the late afternoon to work as a “farmer” on my own farm etc.
I have propagated and encouraged our farmers to dig at least one small pond, if they had land and possibility to do so, either in their housing land or in the rice field. We could call it “multipurpose water pond”. The common answers, I got from most of them were as follows: we do not have money to do that, we do not have enough land, we do not have labors, we are poor etc. I think, most of these people have the so-called “victim spirit”. They should change to nurture the “master spirit”. Better, to think of what we could do and not what we could not do. For the small pond as I put it in this example, if we have money, we ask the constructor to dig for us. But, if we do not have money, we can dig one or two cubic meter per day/person.
In one or two years, we could have it built and it could be used for many years to come. In the cruel Pol Pot regime, 1975-1978, people were forced to dig 3m³/day/person, without enough food, medicines and shelter. Now, we have food and shelter and man-power to do all these works. Why couldn’t we do it? It is really a matter of strong desire and strong determination to accomplish the tasks. Better starting small, litle by little everyday, than doing nothing, but complaining!