News

Rain in the city

by Florian Bielser | 28 June 2022
Image Rain in the city

For the years to come, the problem of better stormwater management in urban areas is a real challenge for the development of cities that are expanding due to a growing rural exodus. While developed countries are beginning to implement "at source" management policies, countries in the South are lagging behind in these so-called alternative practices.

These practices not only allow for better management of flooding risks during intense rainfall events, but also allow for the reintroduction of...


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2021 Annual Report is OUT

by IRHA | 6 May 2022
Image 2021 Annual Report is OUT

New programmes on ecosystem restoration, Food sovereignty , water resilient peasant agriculture, watershed management, but above all new Alliance partnerships, the year 2021 has been rich in new developments for IRHA.

Our Annual Report 2021 is OUT!

Thanks to all the donors, sponsors, public institutions, foundations that support our actions!!!

2021 Annual Report


Image Here we go with Blue School#11 in Tobang (Nepal)

Let's go for Blue School#11! (Tobang, Nepal). The Kanchan Nepal team met with the local authorities and the school of Janapriya to launch the project.

This initiative will help in enabling an environment where pupils can be safe and study. We will rehabilitate toilets, build 2 cisterns to collect rainwater and store it, build a roof serving as a catchment area as well as hand washing stations.

This initiative is supported by the Hirzel Foundation and the Services Industriels de Terre Sainte et...


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Image The solution runs off ... then evaporates

Can you see anything? We do...

Within the framework of the project "the forest of the sea", the IRHA, APAF Sn and Océanium Dakar intend to rehabilitate several lowland areas in the region of Fatick in order to restore the balance

The lowland areas are most often neglected, deforested but represent low points where rainwater accumulates. These areas are used by livestock and wildlife and allow infiltration and recharge of groundwater.

The problem in the Sahelian zones is above all the strong...


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Pumpkin shaped Sri Lanka - Nepal Cooperation

by LRWHF, Sri Lanka | 2 December 2021
Image Pumpkin shaped Sri Lanka - Nepal Cooperation

In December 2021, Malkanthi a sri lankan mason went to Nepal to train the masons of Kanchan Nepal to build a pumpkin-shaped rainwater harvesting tank.

Malkanthi is a native of Athiliwewa Monaragala (Sri Lanka), a mother of three children.She is the first female mason trained by the Lanka Rainwater Harvesting Forum and has encouraged and trained other women as masons in the Monaragala district.

On her way to Nepal, she swept away all gender barriers and stereotypes to share her knowledge and...


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Image Reforesting Barren Land: An Interview with FECOFUN

As part of its reforestation activities within the “Rain Communities” project in Nepal, IRHA is working closely with the Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN), which units together 22’300 Community Forestry Users Groups. To better understand FECOFUN’s activities in Nepal, Nirmal Adhikari (NA) – Project Manager at Kanchan Nepal - interviewed Kalidas Subedi (KS), the Provincial Chairperson of FECOFUN for Gandaki Province.

NA: Who is FECOFUN?

KS: The Federation...


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Building ponds, building water security

by Eleonora Forzini, Blandine Barthod | 29 October 2021
Image Building ponds, building water security

Storing water during monsoon in the nepalese hills is crucial to have enough water to cope with the dry season, especially now that climate change is causing modifications in rainfall intensity and pattern.

In the framework of the project “Rain communities”, a collaborative field mission has been conducted in Nepal in October 2021 between the team members of the Water Harvesting Lab - WHL (University of Florence) and the IRHA. The visit aimed to refine the best sites for water...


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Image A Kop Ale no Maag olè (the Forest of the Sea) : Mangrove restoration project in SenegalIn the context of the International Day for the Conservation of Mangrove Ecosystems on 26 July, IRHA is pleased to present its latest project in collaboration with Oceanium de Dakar in the Sine Saloum estuary in central Senegal: "A Kop Ale no Maag Olè (the Forest of the Sea in Wolof). It will support during 24 months the communities of four estuarine villages located in the commune of Djilasse (Fatick, Senegal).

This initiative, supported by the AP Foundation, aims specifically to strengthen...
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Farmers' fight to restore ecosystems

by Blandine Barthod | 26 April 2021
Image Farmers' fight to restore ecosystems

With human forcing of the climate system, storms and droughts are becoming more severe and prolonged in many regions across the globe (UNFCC, 2014).

In Nepal, increasingly intense monsoon rainfall and longer dry periods are predicted. Marginalised communities in the Himalayan Mid-hills are already experiencing the adverse impact of these increasingly erratic weather patterns.

Yet we can still act for the common good of these communities and the ecosystems that support them. By working with...


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The rain : between blessing and curse

by Florian Bielser | 12 April 2021
Image The rain : between blessing and curse

Deforestation, caused in large part by the expansion of agricultural land, amplifies the vulnerability of the soil to seasonal climatic variations (drought, heavy rains, etc.). The rain, initially perceived as a blessing by the farmers, can then become particularly devastating!

In Keur Maba Diakhou’ municipality, where the "Of earth and rain" project operates, soils are greatly suffering from water erosion. This causes large gullies that threaten both inhabited and cultivated...


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Image Nursery at the service of the Rain Communities

In support of the "Rain Communities" project, a nursery is being built in Pokhara region to support reforestation and anti-erosion activities. Native plants with high economic value have been selected in partnership with FECOFUN (Federation of Community Foresty Users Nepal) to promote the infiltration of rainwater and to ensure better soil maintenance.


And 10! Kalika Blue School

by Blandine Barthod | 17 February 2021

And 10 ...! The success of the blue schools continues and it is spreading in Pokhara region.

After having implemented 4 Blue Schools from 2011-2013 in marginalized communities of the Annapurna Massif region, which are seriously lacking access to safe drinking water, quality sanitation and knowledge on best hygiene practices, IRHA and its local partner Kanchan Nepal have received requests from other local communities to implement the Blue School concept in the region.

Thus, a new Blue School...
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Image Mid-term evaluation of the "Of earth and rain" project (Kaolack)

It's time to take stock of the "De terre et de pluie" project, which is completing its first year of implementation, which has been particularly eventful!

Yancoba (CTA) and the agroforestry farmers did not skimp on efforts and adaptation strategies to carry out the agroforestry campaign despite the many difficulties related to the sanitary context and the delay of the rains.

After a week of mission rich in meetings, discoveries and exchanges with local actors, agroforestry farmers and...


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In search of the blue gold

by Marine Protte-Rieg | 5 January 2021
Image In search of the blue gold

Faced with demographic growth and the future amplification of climate change and health crises, rainwater is more than ever a precious resource for the sahelian rural populations. Channeling, collecting and storing this ephemeral "blue gold" becomes vital, to guarantee the fragile balance between the different uses of water, which tend to cause more conflicts each year.

In collaboration with the Water Harvesting Lab of Florence Univesity (Italy), APAF Senegal and local stakeholders,...


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Image For participatory and inclusive territorial planning: results of the assessment (Fatick, Senegal)

The observation, identification and participatory analysis of the natural ressources degradation dynamics are at the heart of the ecosystem approach and nature-based solutions, supported by IRHA as part of its interventions and advocacy.

In the “Rain, Forest and People” project area (Fatick department, Senegal), IRHA and APAF Senegal have carried out, in close collaboration with local actors, a retrospective and multi-scale territorial diagnosis on the historical and anthropogenic...


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Harvesting "blue gold"

by Marine Protte-Rieg | 23 August 2020
Visite effectuée auprès des bénéficiaires du village de Soudiane Thiélème (commune de Djilasse, département de Fatick). A gauche de la calabash : Abdoulaye Gadiaga, Conseiller en techniques agroforestières du projet « La pluie, la forêt et les Hommes ». A droite : Mansour Ndiaye, directeur exécutif d’APAF Sénégal.

Two months after the beginning of a generous monsoon season in the “Rain, Forest and People” project area, the APAF Senegal team visited households which benefited from the construction of a Calabash in June 2020. The purpose of the visit was to check the quality of the new constructions and to measure the water level in the tanks.

The team was very much welcome by the selected families. The latter were fully satisfied and happy with their new rainwater harvesting system. According to...


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Image Keur Maba Diakhou Ba: Bringing Earth, Rain and People together.

Mission completed for the IRHA Senegal team!

After ten intensive days of data collection in Keur Maba Diakhou Bamunicipality (Kaolack region), it is time to handover to the APAF Senegal team for agroforestry nurseries monitoring, in the five beneficiary villages of #ofeathandrain project!

Huge thanks to Yancoba Sall Diene, advisor in agroforestry techniques of the area and Mr. Dramé, agroforestry farmer from Mandera, teacher at high school and very committed eco-citizen, for their...


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Image Talking Agroforestry with APAF-Senegal during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Rachel Hosein Nisbet (RHN): How did you come to work with APAF Senegal?

Mansour Ndiaye (MN): I am a farmer’s son. After studying agronomy, I spent 23 years working in industrial agriculture. Since 1945, Senegal has grown peanuts as a monoculture crop, to supply France. I saw forests felled and chemical fertilizers and pesticides added to newly ploughed fields. But farmers’ yields still dropped. After witnessing the harm done to farmers and topsoil by industrial agriculture, I became...


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Image Blandine Barthod Learns that 'Every Drop Counts' in the Kaski Mid-Hills.

After a sitting in front of a computer preparing IRHA’s latest Nepal project, I was excited when the plane to Kathmandu finally revved its engines and took off from Geneva airport. Landing in Nepal’s capital with my colleague Marc Sylvestre, the churn of people and vehicles was overwhelming. By the time we finally found a little restaurant and the “momos” (ravioli made with rice flour) we ordered got burned and filled the restaurant with smoke, it was clear my Nepal adventure would...


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To learn about IRHA’s New Integrated Water Resource Management Project in the Kaski District of Nepal, Rachel Nisbet (RN) spoke with Kanchan Nepal's Team Leader, Gajendra Singh Pun (GSP).Having built rainwater-harvesting systems to supply his household with water, Mr Pun is convinced of the value of using rain as a water resource. He has never had to buy water from a tanker since installing his rainwater harvesting system, and would like to see people in the urban centers of Pokhara and...


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Mapping Rain for Collective Gain

by Rachel Nisbet | 27 February 2020
Image Mapping Rain for Collective Gain

Making Participatory Maps to Talk Water

Creating an Integrated Water Resource Management plan involves many community-based organisations. In our Nepali project with Kanchan Nepal, we liaise with mother’s groups, youth clubs, water user committees, cooperatives, farmer’s groups, and forest user groups to get communities thinking about how their water supply depends on both groundwater flow and rainfall.

To cultivate local hydro-wisdom, it is important to find a common language to...


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Image Photo Journal: Blandine Barthod Visits IRHA Blue Schools in Nepal

Blandine Barthod’s assessment of IRHA’s 10 Blue Schools in Nepal took her through the mountain region to the East of Pokhara. She visited the following schools between 16 October and 13 November 2019, with the help of our local project partners Kanchan Nepal:

Accompanied by a translator, she first attended the opening of a new Blue School at Bijaya village, with its news rainwater harvesting tank and toilets (images 1 & 2 below).

She then visited an abandoned school at Arundaya,...


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Image Book Review:  Bob Bouleware’s 'Alternative Water Sources and Wastewater Management'

Book Review

Bob Bouleware’s Alternative Water Sources and Wastewater Management (2012) offers an excellent overview of the intersection between precipitation harvesting (rain, fog, dew) and wastewater management. By bringing these topics together, this book offers a timely introduction to water management practices that contribute to water, nutrient and energy recycling. Stopping the linear flow of nutrients from land, into watercourses and out to sea is urgent: the hypoxia...


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Image Toilets, Connecting SDGs 6 and 15 : An Interview with Philippe Morier-Genoud

Toilets, Connecting SDGs 6 and 15 : An Interview with Philippe Morier-Genoud

RN: Thanks for taking the time to talk with IRHA about the importance of recycling black water and the nutrients it contains, thus linking SDGs 6 (sanitation for all) and 15 (sustainable use of ecosystems). I’m curious how you have updated a topic alluded to by the everyman hero of James Joyce's novel Ulysses, as he heads out to use the EC in his garden:

He bent down to regard a lean file of spearmint growing...


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Posted to Pokhara: Planting Rain in Nepal

by Blandine Barthod | 29 September 2019
Image Posted to Pokhara: Planting Rain in Nepal

My departure for Nepal is now approaching very quickly. After studying international relations, environment and water management, I am excited to finally use my knowledge practically. I already had some travelling experience as a backpacker. However, this fieldwork is very special, as I will discover an unfamiliar society with different cultural traditions. I am excited about this journey and the inspiring new people I will meet.

Throughout this journey, I will have the opportunity to...


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Image Calabash Construction as Rainwater Hospitality

After three months working in our agroforestry project in Senegal, I’ve returned to Switzerland. My fieldwork has allowed me to experience this country’s extremely arid environment. In the Fatick region, the seasons contrast starkly. Normally, the rainy season, spanning the months of July to September, is when crops are planted in rural areas. However, 2019 proved to be an exceptional year, with the rains arriving extremely late. The first real rains only fell in the last week of...


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Planting Waterscapes

by Rachel Nisbet | 29 September 2019

This blog post introduces a technical journal article written by Castelli et al. (2017) examining how the Pirai river basin in Bolivia is managed. This catchment contains forests, woodlands, grasslands and wetlands; it is the water source for three million people, supplying the urban centre of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. One particularly useful feature of this study is its demonstration of the feedbacks between changing landscape cover in recent decades and shifting hydrological patterns. Its...


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Geneva’s Rainwater Harvesters

by Rachel Nisbet | 29 September 2019
Image Geneva’s Rainwater Harvesters

There are many private and cooperative rainwater harvesting initiatives in the Geneva region. While sharing information about rainwater harvesting at the 5th Alternatiba Léman Festival, in the city’s Parc des Bastions, we exchanged with local advocates of rainwater harvesting. We learnt about the collective and cooperative, Le Terroir, who harvest rain for watering their organic, market garden. They sell their produce in Présilly on Tuesday evenings.

We chatted with a local inhabitant,...


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Image A Green Thought in a Blue School

What’s value of a tree? Tree planting is a feature of our Blue Schools, whose five components comprise rainwater harvesting, sanitation, hygiene training, tree planting and school gardens. On re-visiting two IRHA Blue Schools in Kaolack, Senegal earlier this month, Marc Sylvestre (IRHA’s Executive Director) was delighted to observe the positive impact on-campus tree planting has within the local community. The Kaolack Blue Schools were established in 2011, in partnership with Caritas...


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Image Readying for Rain (Senegal: Rain, Forests, People Project)

Thirty-five farmers in Senegal’s Fatick-Thiès region are ready to harvest rain! In late May, IRHA’s Florian Biesler travelled to Senegal with our director, Marc Sylvestre, to kick off the project’s calabash construction. These rainwater reservoirs will provide the first volley of farmers participating in the 'Rain, Forests, People’ agroforestry project with the means of storing harvested rainwater. This resource will provide drinking water for their families, even at the end of the...


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Field Notes from Florian Bielser

by Florian Biesler (trans. R. Nisbet) | 1 July 2019
Image Field Notes from Florian Bielser

Florian Bielser is a twenty-six-year-old MSc student of environmental engineering at the EPFL, Switzerland. He is currently on placement as an IRHA field manager. Here’s an edited translation of his Senegalese Field Journal:

Boyard N’diodiom, 25.06.2019

Marc and I arrived in Dakar at dusk on the 24th of May. Our short night’s sleep, followed by a bus journey, left me feeling groggy as we visited IRHA Blue Schools in Senegal’s main peanut processing and trading centre, Kaolack. But...


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Image Celebrating A Climate-Smart Rainwater Harvesting Initiative

As pioneers in environmental communication, the NGO CICEANA has extensive experience of teaching sustainable agricultural practices within school communities. Our organisations came into contact when IRHA established a Blue School in Oaxaca. CICEANA saw great scope in rainwater harvesting as a technique for providing drinking water and improving community health. We are delighted that they subsequently initiated a project to create a Blue Community in Oaxaca’s Huautla de Jiménez region....


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Image The Great Yu: A Cosmology that Anticipates Nature-Based Solutions?

One example of a cosmology that anticipates nature-based solutions in the context of DRR is the mythical narrative of the Great Yu. This story tells how Yu rejected the engineered, grey solution of dike building to prevent China's recurrent flooding. This was the (unsuccessful) flood prevention approach developed by Yu’s father, before Yu was born. Changing tack, Yu decided not to battle against nature, but to invest time in understanding fluvial processes. Working with the rivers, he...


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Bolivian Blue School Report

by Rachel Nisbet | 28 May 2019
Image Bolivian Blue School Report

We are delighted that the Bolivian Blue School and health post we established in collaboration with Sumaj Punchay has now been operational for over six months. Sumaj Punchay means 'towards better days’ in the Quechua language. This NGO has a holistic approach to development. They approached our NGO as IRHA’s Blue School model fulfills their own development targets of education, disease prevention, securing food sovereignty and managing natural resources. The school and associated...


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Image  ‘Rain, Forests, People’ Project: Phase One Completed

Working with committees in seven villages located in the Fatick-Thiès region of Senegal, we have now selected thirty-five local farmers, who we will train and assist in building agroforestry parcels on their land. A further seven villages will be identified in 2020, and another cohort of approximately thirty five farmers will be selected, trained and assisted to develop agroforestry parcels. The village meetings of spring 2019 took place in school classrooms, in village squares under...


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The Calabash Tank Manual

by Rachel Nisbet | 28 April 2019
Image The Calabash Tank Manual

The Calabash Tank Manual is published by the Dutch organization Clean Water Healthy Village (degevuldewaterkruik).Paul Akkerman, who wrote the manual, co-founded this rainwater harvesting project in Bedanda, Guinea-Bisseau, in 2005. Working with Bicosse Nandafa, he sought to provide an alternative drinking water source as aquifers in the country’s coastal region experienced pronounced saltwater intrusion during the dry season. Through this intervention, Paul and his colleagues were able...


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Poems about Rain

by Rachel Nisbet | 21 March 2019
Image Poems about Rain

Precious Rain

Emily Dickinson makes rain generous and loving, like a mother, in 'Rain Poem’.

Drops fall on a house 'half a dozen kissed the eaves/and made the gables laugh’. By accounting for raindrops, almost one by one, this poem introduces each one as something precious. The poet, in following the course of these falling drops, imagines 'were they peals/what necklaces could be!’. If we succeed in teaching people to value raindrops as much as pearls falling from the sky, we will...


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Image Profiling our Country-Based Collaborators

Sumaj Punchay is a Bolivian NGO, with expertise in locally mitigating the effects of climate change, food security and sovereignty, sustainable family agriculture. They work in a country where 3 million people live in rural areas, where agricultural labour is the main source of employment. Approximately, 70 % of these people live below the poverty line. Accordingly, Sumaj Punchay plays a key role in ensuring the livelihood of these rural, farming populations. The NGO works to ensure...


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Image Improving Water Security and Resilience in Kaski District, Nepal In Collaboration with Kanchan Nepal

Our collaboration with the local NGO Kanchan Nepal has assisted them in 'empowering communities with Water, Sanitation and Health Services’. Despite the high rainfall it receives during the monsoon, the Kaski District is water-stressed. It is comprised of steep-sided valleys, primarily composed of limestone (karst); thus, water preferentially flows underground, making surface runoff collection difficult (Rimal et al 2018).[1] Providing a reliable supply of drinking water for rural...


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Image In Conversation with Conradin Clavuot of Ice Stupa International

Rachel Nisbet: As an architect, how did you come to focus on creating of low-tech structures, which are able to collect and store snow and ice?

Conradin Clavuot: When my architecture class at the University of Lichtenstein discovered Sonam Wangchuck’s Ladakian Ice Stupas, this was an important step in conceiving how we might initiate creative, meaningful, socioenvironmental architectural projects in our own water-stressed regions. That in creating ice stupas, natural processes can...


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Rachel Nisbet: Sálvano, you have spent a career working in nature conservation and environmental planning at the international level, focusing latterly on how communities can develop their resilience to natural hazards. We are very fortunate to benefit from your expertise as an IRHA board member. Thanks for your time in a few questions about your vision for IRHA.

What motivates you in supporting IRHA?

Sálvano Briceño: I believe IRHA performs an important function in promoting...


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Image Agroforestry and Water harvesting for food security : New project in Senegal

Senegal’s rural communities live in rapidly changing natural environments. 22 % of Senegalese (13 million people) inhabit areas where soil fertility has been dramatically reduced in the past three decades, mainly through water erosion.[1] Located in Sub-Saharan Africa, the country’s grasslands increasingly experience annual bushfires, compounding the erosion of their soils. Additionally, between 2001 and 2009, the area of cropland increased by 175 %, with large areas of this zone...


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Strengthening the Rainwater Alliance

by Han Heijnen | 7 January 2019
Image Strengthening the Rainwater Alliance

Brazil’s national rainwater harvesting association, the Associação Brasileira de Captação e Manejo de Água de Chuva (ABCMAC), held its eleventh conference in João Pessoa, Paraiba State this November. Delegates gathered to discuss the theme 'Rainwater: A Step toward Brazil’s Water Security and Resilience’.[1]

Presentations focused on the usage of rainwater in agriculture, in the home and within ecosystems, and the development of policies that can encourage rainwater harvesting...


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The Sri Lanka Rainwater Harvesting Forum organizes its regular international conference every three years. In 2018 the Conference brings together some 70 participants from South Asian countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh and India, as well as Ethiopia, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Sri Lanka as the host country was well represented with the Minister of City Planning and Water Supply and Dinesh Gunawardhana, the Leader of the Parliament and a long-term proponent of rainwater...


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(Photo: Transformée en voie douce pour les piétons et les cyclistes et capable de retenir un peu l’eau, la rue Garibaldi, à Lyon, le 25 juillet. JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK / AFP)

La métropole lyonnaise a entrepris depuis cinq ans un travail minutieux pour permettre à l’eau de pluie de s’infiltrer dans le sol où elle ira rejoindre la nappe souterraine.

Faire de la pluie une alliée : c’est une sacrée ambition que le Grand Lyon s’est donnée. Ne plus laisser l’eau tombée du ciel...


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Image Progress of Blue School - Trapiche Bajo

Lack of water, obsolete sanitary infrastructure, unacceptable hygiene conditions and strong local demand. The IRHA, in partnership with Sumaj Punchay, designed a Blue School to provide a concrete and effective response to the local communities.


We build 2 ferrocement tanks of 20 m3 and rehabilitation sanitary facilities to provide drinking water and hygiene acceptable to children and fight against water-related contamination (diarrhea).




A rain T-shirts

by IRHA | 1 May 2018
1- You support our association and our actions and we thank you!

2- You become an actor of change

3- You wear a tee shirt "super fashion" that makes sense!

> Buy now

* The production will be launched after receipt of payment and as soon as we reach an order of at least 30 pieces.

L'IRHA participera cette année à Resilient Cities 2018 - Le Forum mondial annuel sur la résilience et l'adaptation urbaines.Plus de 500 participants et plus de 30 partenaires chaque année ont contribué à faire de Resilient Cities un événement marquant réunissant des dirigeants locaux et des experts en adaptation climatique pour discuter des défis d'adaptation auxquels les environnements urbains sont confrontés dans le monde entier.Resilient Cities soutient également la...
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Image Blue School Trapiche Bajo (Bolivia) - Launch

Launched in March 2018, the project of the Blue School Trapiche Bajo (Potosi - Bolovie) is progressing well. The first visits and evaluations were conducted by our local partner Sumaj Punchay and the work will have to start very soon.

As can be seen in the photo, many municipalities have installed playgrounds (blue-roofed buildings) with large roof areas. Faced with a lack of water, IRHA re-uses intelligently and efficiently the catchment areasto collect thousands of liters of rainwater that...
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Workshop #2

27 March 2018
Image Workshop #2

To accompany children to become enlightened citizens, to make them aware of their environment so that they become agents of change by being able to implement concrete and sustainable solutions in their city or neighborhood.


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