Rural water supply interventions in low-resource settings often suffer from poor functionality. The use of technologies and financing approaches, that are out of step with the communities that they target, are primary drivers of this breakdown in supply. This paper describes a pilot study from south-east Madagascar that provides rural households with access to a water source at the home through the sale of rainwater harvesting systems. Results from the pilot show that households were prepared to pay a significant contribution towards establishing a household water supply despite being located in a low-resource, water-abundant region. Over a payback period of six months, zero households defaulted on loans that covered 57 per cent of the costs for materials and transport. Water quality tests demonstrated that the systems were capable of providing water with low levels of microbial contamination (median CFU/100 ml = 7). High levels of adherence to operation and maintenance schedules suggest that people were capable and motivated to maintain and use their systems.