Rainwater harvesting in challenging environments: Towards institutional frameworks for sustainable domestic water supply
Rainwater harvesting (RWH) has proved to be a viable alternative water source in challenging environments where other means of water supply have no or very little potential. In the last two decades, interest in RWH has grown. Several governments of Southern countries have taken the initiative to scale up community-based RWH approaches and networks have been established between Southern and Northern civil society organizations, governments, private sector and research institutes to support and promote upscaling of RWH. This paper describes the approach taken by one of these network organizations in water-scarce, remote and marginalized areas, and discusses lessons learned, challenges and the way forward. The main challenges are: 1) the multi-layer institutional model requires substantial initial investment and effective communication between organizations, water users and governments; 2) women's involvement in community management of RWH systems is still weak; and 3) initial investment costs for rainwater harvesting tanks are relatively high, limiting replication by communities in challenging environments.
Experts are asked important questions relating to rainwater harvesting: Is the quality of roof-harvested water acceptable? Is the cost of RWH acceptable? Is rainwater harvesting a useful part of water supply services everywhere? Is RWH equally useful in urban and rural environments? And how can we measure the water harvesting potential of seasonal rivers?