There are clear advantages to rainwater harvesting at home:
- improved health
- easy access
- low cost
- it is easy to manage.
Traditional rainwater harvesting
Traditional methods of rainwater harvesting used in Uganda and Sri Lanka include rainwater collection from trees, using banana leaves or stems as temporary gutters. Up to 200 litres may be collected from a large tree in a single storm.
Rooftop rainwater harvesting
Very low cost domestic rainwater harvesting systems can be easily installed on most corrugated iron or clay tile rooftops in rural and urban areas, using various forms of guttering, first flush diverters (a pipe system that diverts the ‘first flush’ of contaminated water away from the container, and then allows the rest of the rainwater to be directed into the container - see a diagram here) and plastic or ferro-cement tanks for collection and storage.
Rainwater harvesting without rooftops
However, in some rural areas most people live in simple thatched roof structures, which are not suitable for traditional rain - water harvesting. Tearfund has therefore researched and tested an innovative and simple ‘ultra low cost’ way of harvesting rainwater without using rooftops.
Using plastic sheeting
In many populations on the move, especially in emergency and post-emergency situations, plastic sheeting is a basic commodity that many households own. It is either given through distributions at refugee camps or camps for internally displaced persons, or purchased on the local market. Plastic sheets are used for many purposes including as shelter for homes or shops. They can also be used for rainwater harvesting. Calculations based on rainfall data from Colombo, Sri Lanka, show there would be an average daily yield of more than 60 litres over six months of the year from rainwater harvesting using an 8m2 plastic sheet for collection.