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Rainwater Harvesting

What is rainwater harvesting?

Rainwater harvesting is the capture and storage of rainwater for landscape irrigation, potable and non-potable indoor use, and storm water abatement. Harvested rainwater can be particularly useful when no other source of water supply is available, or if the available supply is inadequate or of poor quality.

Why is there so much interest of late in rainwater harvesting?

Rainwater harvesting is enjoying a revival in popularity for two reasons: its inherently superior quality and an interest in reducing consumption of treated water. Rainwater has long been valued for its purity and softness. It is slightly acidic, and is free from disinfectant by-products, salts, minerals, and other natural and man-made contaminants. Furthermore, rainwater harvesting is valued as a water conservation tool to reduce demand on more traditional water supply sources.

Mapping the Potential of Rainwater Harvesting for Africa and Nine Selected Countries

rain logoWater is at the heart of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) numbers 1, 3 and 7, and is indirectly associated with the success or otherwise of all the other Goals. But for Africa to meet the MDGs, bold and targeted actions will be required in the water sector. Given that about 300 million people in Africa - a third of the continent’s population - are living under “water scarcity” situations, urgent action is required else 12 more African countries will join “water scarce” nations by 2025.

To address this, the African Water Vision for 2025 is set to develop the full potential of Africa’s water resources for sustainable growth in the region’s economic and social development, of which rainwater harvesting (RWH) and storage forms a major component. Among others, the Vision calls for “improving water wisdom”, which is to be achieved by establishing an elaborate system of data collection, management, dissemination, including standardization and harmonization of data and information.

AWF grant helps Kenyan pastoralists build resilience to climate change in drought prone areas

An estimated 150,000 people from pastoral communities, including students and teachers from six schools based in Kenya’s Baringo, Kiambu West and Laikipia districts, are to benefit from a €690,000 grant from the African Water Facility (AWF) signed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) on December 7, after being approved on July 6, 2012. “The goal of this project is to contribute to the mainstreaming of rainwater harvesting and management in response to rural development challenges posed by climate in drought prone regions,” said Gabriel Negatu, AfDB’s East Africa Regional Director, shortly after signing the grant agreement. “The project also perfectly aligns with Kenya’s objective to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for water supply and sanitation.”

 Retaining scarce resources - rainwater harvesting in Sudan

Northern Darfur state, one of the most drought prone areas of Sudan, is situated on the edge of the Sahara desert. Precipitation is concentrated in the short summer period, but rainfall is becoming increasingly erratic and unreliable, so that farmers cannot rely on the amount of rain or where it will fall. Even heavy storms, which occur once or twice a year, can cause problems - by washing away topsoil Retaining scarce resources - rainwater harvesting in Sudanand reducing the land’s fertility - rather than providing relief. The result has been great loss of livestock, crops, natural vegetation and wildlife, undermining the sustainability of rural livelihoods.“ Climate change has led to more extreme weather, increasing both the occurrence of droughts and floods.

Namibia: Villagers harvest rainwater amid water shortages

The rainfall received in some parts of the Kavango Region recently has presented inhabitants of the Katjinakatji village a rare opportunity to harvest rainwater.The fast-growing village has been experiencing a water shortage for many years, and residents have to walk about 10km to fetch drinking water, available only at clinics and schools.

They said their plea to Government to assist them in drilling boreholes has apparently fallen on deaf ears.
Recently, Katjinakattji, whose clay-type soil holds water for a long time, was blessed with rain, prompting villagers to harvest water from puddles along the Trans-Caprivi Highway that passes through the village.

Mostly elderly men and women could be seen scooping up rainwater into containers. Some of the elders say they do not drink the rainwater because it is usually muddy. The water is mainly used to build clay houses and wash clothes, and for livestock to drink. Some say they drink the water after boiling it, but only in emergencies when they have no other water.




Current Issue: Africa Water & Sanitation & Hygiene November - December 2017 Vol.12 No.6