Fanya Juu &
Fanya Chini

Learn all about: Fanya Juu & Fanya Chini


The Fanya Juu & Fanya Chini technique helps you to harvest rainwater on your farm. Learn all about the technique and its benefits with the help of the instructions and video on this page.


What is
Fanya Juu &
Fanya Chini?

With the Fanya Juu & Fanya Chini method, you dig contours within your farmland to harvest rainwater. The name Fanya Chini literally means “throw it downwards” in Kiswahili. It consists of trenches and earthen ridges facing downslope. It prevents the rain that falls outside your farm from flowing into or through the farm, protecting the fertile soil from erosion. The name Fanya Juu means “throw it upwards” in Kiswahili and it is very similar to Fanya Chini since it consists of terrace bunds and ditches along the contour. Fanya Juu prevents the rain that falls within your farm from flowing away, increasing water availability for the crops on your land. In the end, it helps you to regreen your own land.

Learn the 6 steps of Fanya Juu & Fanya Chini below!
  • STEP 1: Look
  • STEP 2: Measure
  • STEP 3: Find people
  • STEP 4: Dig
  • STEP 5: Reinforce
  • STEP 6: Maintain

STEP 1: Look

Look at your land and identify the slope of the land and how water is flowing

  • Think about where you would want Fanya Juu / Chini trenches to block the water flow.
  • Typically, Fanya Juu/ Chini trenches are about 10 to 20 meters apart, but it is up to you to decide how many you want.
  • Make sure you have at least one at the top of your farm and one at the bottom.
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STEP 2: Measure

Measure the exact lines of the contour

You can use a line level, hosepipe filled with water, or other ways to do so. If you don’t know how to do this: ask a local fundi how they measure level for e.g. masonry work. You can use the same approach to measure your land.

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STEP 3: Find people

Find people to help you dig

  • For example, you can create a group of people to jointly work on the Fanya Juu /Chini trenches: each month the group works on the field of another group member until all have the trenches on their land.
  • Or you can hire people (or even an excavator) to do the work: it’s a clever investment since the trenches will increase your crop yield and give you extra income.
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STEP 4: Dig

Dig the trenches

  • The trench is 60 cm deep and 60 cm wide.
  • Every 10 meter you interrupt the trench to prevent lateral flow of water which could create an erosion gully.
  • On the top of your land you create a Fanya Chini: you throw the ground downwards to create a trench with a strong barrier to block water coming from uphill.
  • Along your field and on the lowest part you create a Fanya Juu: you throw the ground upwards to keep the water and soil on your land and create a good environment to grow your crops.
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STEP 5: Reinforce

Reinforce the trenches

  • Plant grasses or other plants with strong roots in the soil heap to stabilize it.
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STEP 6: Maintain

Maintain the trenches

  • Make sure you respect the trenches during plowing and harvesting. Every year scoop out the silt from the trenches.
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