Universal access to drinking water and sustainable water management remain major social challenges. But rainwater can be harvested with minimal environmental impact, to fulfill the human right to water.
In industrialised countries, a mixture of ground- and surface-water resources are often used to meet public and industrial water needs. But this can change the hydrodynamics of ecosystems, and deplete aquifers, exposing future generations by depleting natural resources.
Water resources are modified by variations in land use, temperature and precipitation. Population growth, urbanisation, ecosystem degradation and depletion of aquifers have negative effects on drinking water supply, biodiversity and agricultural production.
Harvesting rainwater at the catchment level, in soils, vegetation, and reservoirs offers a means of addressing domestic, agricultural, industrial and ecosystemic water needs, while promoting sustainable resource management behaviours. Cultivating landscapes as living sponges that retain water substantially relieves demand for groundwater resources. This allows aquifers to recharge.
Collecting rainwater affords a triple gain: mitigating flood risks, storing water for use during periods of drought, and optimizing the use of this resource. All three benefits increase the resilience of rural and urban communities as they adapt to the extreme weather events associated with climate change. Learn more
In many low-income countries, women and girls shoulder the responsibility of water collection (30-50 l/day), to meet their household's daily needs.
Often rising early, to walk 2-3 km to a local spring, well or river, where they fill 15-20 l cans. The daily chore of travelling back and forth to collect the required volume of water can lead to headaches, back pain and fatigue, with girls often dropping out of school. Women might better use this time to develop an income-generating activity, in adult learning or to care for their children. Moreover, women collecting water risk injury; seeking water at night exposes them to greater risk of sexual assault.
Domestic rainwater harvesting relieves women of the burden of being water carriers.
Rainwater management addresses Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 13 and 17). We advance these goals through international development projects, by supporting local municipalities and local authorities, and by advocating for the socio-environmental benefits of rainwater harvesting.