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Harvesting Rainwater to Meet Basic Human Needs

Harvesting Rainwater to Meet Basic Human Needs

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Published by: Green Action Sustainable Technology Group on Jul 23, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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February 2008
Harvesting Rainwater to Meet BasicHuman Needs
It's estimated that
more than one-sixth of theworld's population -- about 1.1 billion people --lack adequate water supplies and have accessonly to non-potable water
. A further 2.4 billionpeople have no improved sanitation facilities.The UN Millenium Development Goals will remain adream unless poor communities are a part of thedecision making process to manage, control and ownthe water source and distribution.
Rainwater harvesting using rooftops andunderground tanks is a traditional approachestablished over hundreds of years.
Rainfall onrooftops is collected and channeled into undergroundtanks or small reservoirs that can store and provideenough safe drinking water to meet daily needs formonths.The success of Barefoot initiatives in rainwaterharvesting and well recharging as part of the collective efforts of rural communities in India havedemonstrated the need to reintroduce traditional, low-cost technologies that communities can implementthemselves.
The Barefoot approach draws upon local knowledge and skills, and involves local people toadminister, supervise and finance their own community development.
This helps to reducedependency on external aid and creates a sense of local ownership in managing the local water supply.
Constructing Rooftop RainwaterHarvesting Systems
Constuction of rainwater harvesting systems in
will provide clean drinking water to schoolchildren in 6 rural communities.Working with
Riders for Health
The Gambia
,villages of Kankurang and Kanfenkeng now haverooftop rainwater harvesting systems constructed byBarefoot Water Engineers trained by the BarefootCollege in Tilonia. Four more rainwater harvestingsystems are under construction in other communitiesin The Gambia.Working with
Safer Future for Youth Development
Sierra Leone
, four tanks have been constructedand
has approved funding for rainwaterharvesting systems in 4 more schools.Ten rainwater harvesting systems are also underconstruction or already in use in
In 2008, the Barefoot College will be working withNGO partners in Africa to create community-managedwater systems: in
through a small indigenousorganization, in
and the
Homeless Federation
, and in
Norwegian Church Aid
Funding for nearly
20 rooftop rainwater harvestingsystems
in Benin, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, SierraLeone, and The Gambia is being provided by
Art Venture
Het Groene Woudt
Norwegian Church Aid
Skoll Foundation
(USA), and
Water & Sanitation for Rural Schools
Thousands of remote rural schools all over the worldhave no water for drinking or sanitation. There arealso no simple hand flushed toilets in these schoolswhich often prevents girls, who need privacy, fromattending school.
When children should be learningto read and write, they are instead walking longdistances to fetch water during school hours.
 Too often, the technical solutions being offered tomeet the drinking water needs of children in primaryand middle schools are not sustainable. The source isprimarily ground water. Its location, extraction anddistribution is prohibitively expensive. It is simply notpossible for all the government schools in any countryto have access to water by relying on groundwater.
Rooftop rainwater harvesting is the only feasibleanswer
.A typical rooftop rainwater harvesting system tocollect 100,00 liters for a remote rural schoolrequires a one-time investment of between $5,000and $10,000, depending on whether the tank isconstructed in alluvial or hard rock areas.
For lessthan 5 to 10 cents per liter
, this rainwatersystem can provide clean drinking water andfunctioning toilets in a school for 6 months in adrought region.
Ground water recharge
is a complementary,low- cost solution, that can be implemented by thecommunity. By constructing small dams across drytributaries and riverbeds and allowing therainwater collected to percolate, it is possible toreplenish wells and aquifers. By channeling surfacerainwater into unused and dry open wells, it is possible to revitalize the thousands of dry hand pumps andtraditional open wells for irrigation. Local people can be trained to repair and maintain their own handpumps.
Clean Drinking Water for More than239,000 Children in 7 Countries
For over 20 years, the Barefoot College has workedwith rural communities to develop their own rainwaterharvesting systems and community-managed watersupplies:· In India, nearly 1300 systems in 17 states with atotal storage capacity of 47 million liters provide cleanwater to over 235,000 school children in remote, ruralcommunities.· In Afghanistan and 5 countries in Africa, 15 rainwatersystems constructed since 2006 with a total storagecapacity of 1.5 million liters provide clean water toover 4,200 school children.
Summary of Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting Systems -
Learn more about project funding for construction of Rainwater Harvesting Systems for Schools 
using the Barefoot approach 
The Engineer vs the Community

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