The picture above is of the Purros valley facing north west and overlooking the area in which SFP wants to help create a new garden. Desert elephant, lion, giraffe and oryx roam through this valley, following the river beds searching for food and water. The Himba community that lives here make their living and sustain themselves by raising cattle and goats. 

The land is arid with very little rain. Organic content within the soil is for the most part less than 1. 2% and defined as desert. Outlying villages sometimes have to travel long distances to get water.

In this beautiful wilderness water is a matter of life and death.

The water run at Giribes Plain, between Purros and Sesfontein

The Purros Biochar Initiative is led by Robbin Uatokuja who has lived in and around Purros all his life. Knowing the area so intimately he works as a guide and often represents his community in relation to government and commerce.

Himba community leader and guide Robbin Uatokuja

One of his objectives in setting up the project with SFP is to encourage his people, the Himba, to produce more of their own food, to rely less on the traditional rearing of livestock and to encourage organic horticulture.

The ephemeral Hoarusib river, a few km west of Purros where the life giving water surfaces - sometimes!

He wants to explore the possibilities that using biochar may bring to making the soil more fertile.

Soil water holding capacity is of primary importance. Nutrients in any compost added to this soil is leached out very quickly. By adding biochar it may prove possible to retain nutrients and water long enough for the plant to survive. Once grown the plant root will help retain moisture and encourage more growth.

Establishing a garden and demonstrating to people that food can be grown successfully in this way is the prime objective of the project.

In 2016 Robbin and his team of 4 young people will build a garden on land that he has leased from the community. 

Tracks across the river

One of the first things to do is find water and to do this SFP is going to support the drilling of a small bore well. A solar pump will draw water which can be used in the garden and for the community in general. This is no small undertaking and there is no guarantee of success but careful research and planning will minimise any risk. After building an elephant proof wall we hope to begin the first planting at the end of the year. Wilbard and Bennie from the Sesfontein project will be assisting Robbin and passing on the biochar know-how.

With the help of the University of Namibia and we hope the support of the government, these projects could herald the beginning of a horticultural revolution in this part of Namibia which will set an example for similar communities elsewhere.


There is much to be done and news of progress will be recorded in the Project Log on this website.

An old Himba cattle and goat kraal. A source of dung for the proposed garden 

Tilly the SFP expedition Land Rover near the proposed Purros garden. This will be the projects headquarters in Purros

A desert elephant resting in the heat of the day. It was 42 deg C when this picture was taken

Lion in the shade just to the left of the tree.