International Rainwater Catchment Systems Association
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6th International Conference on Rainwater Catchmant Systems
"Participation in Rainwater Collection for Low-Income Communities and Sustainable Development"
Nairobi, Kenya - August 1993

Conclusions and Recommendations

D.B. Thomas
University of Nairobi, Kenya

  1. The Conference noted that, in some many countries, there has been a lack of government support for the promotion of rainwater catchment and that the poorest communities are often paying the greatest price for water.
    The Conference recommends that governments take steps to promote rainwater catchment systems and give consideration to the establishment of a rainwater catchment department within the relevant ministry. 
  2. The Conference noted the need for information systems to create awareness of the potential of rainwater among politicians, policy makers and administrators; their help should be sought in raising the status of rainwater in the public eye. The conference also recommends that more attention is given to formulating appropriate messages that can be used by the media to promote rainwater harvesting for crop production and rainwater catchment for domestic supply. 
  3. The Conference noted the need to improve the availability of information on rainwater catchment systems and recommends the establishment of information centres at national or regional level. The Conference further recommends that technical information should be compiled from conference proceedings and other sources and should be made available in the form of action sheets together with bills of quantities and the names and addresses of contact persons who can provide more details. 
  4. The Conference noted the importance of community participation in the development of rainwater catchment systems and recommends that communities are involved from the earliest stage of planning in what should be done and how it should be carried out. The Conference also recommends that more attention should be given to the process whereby communities are enabled to solve their own problems and to providing them with the assistance which will improve their capacity to achieve their own goals. 
  5. The Conference noted that in many societies the provision of water for domestic use has been considered the task of women and recommends mat communities be sensitized to the difficulties faced by women and the possibilities of rainwater catchment systems in reducing the time and effort spent in collecting water. 
  6. The Conference noted that the affordability of a given technology depends on the time frame for repayment and recommends that assistance be given in the form of loans from a revolving fund to which the community and government or donor agencies make contributions. The support given by the Government of Thailand for the construction of rainwater jars provides a good example. 
  7. The conference noted that the benefits of rainwater catchment systems include, inter alia: a solution, or partial solution to problems of water shortage; good quality water; positive environmental benefits in the control of runoff; minimal demands on land; low cost through use of locally available materials; decentralized systems under the control of the local people;
    income generation for local artisans; suitability for financing through revolving funds; minimal demands for energy, e.g. in pumping; and community involvement. 
  8. The Conference noted that, currently little attention is given to rainwater catchment systems in training institutions and recommends that the subject of rainwater harvesting be included in the syllabi of schools and colleges. The relevant professional groups such as architects, engineers and agriculturalists should be given training in the principles and practices of rainwater harvesting. 
  9. The Conference recognized that further research is needed into the use of rainwater catchment systems for agricultural purposes and that the reasons for non-adoption, in some instances, need further investigation. In particular the problems associated with labour demands and land tenure warrant further attention. 
  10. The Conference recommends that the International Rainwater Catchment Systems Association should promote the use of all kinds of rainwater catchment systems including roof catchments, rock catchments, ground catchments, open reservoirs and sand dams. 
  11. The Conference recommends that further research is carried out on the following aspects of roof catchments: flushing mechanisms, use of cistern roofs to catch water, safety of roofing materials; guttering systems; inlet mechanisms; outlet devices and the use of local materials. 
  12. The Conference notes that existing drinking water standards may be in appropriate for water collected from roofs and recommends that the relevant health authorities should carry out epidemiological studies to determine the health risk associated with drinking water collected from roofs and that they should develop appropriate standards. The same authorities should also investigate the effects on water quality of the catchment system, especially the use of asbestos roofing materials and the effect of storage components. IRCSA should draw up guidelines on appropriate standards in consultation with the relevant international agencies. 
  13. The Conference recommends that rainfall data should be collected and used to supplement existing data in determining cistern capacity. 
  14. The Conference supports the efforts of the international external support community to promote sustainable water resources and settlements development. The conference shares the objectives of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) to be held in Turkey in 1996, and encourages the provision of support to its preparatory activities. The Conference recommends the development of integrated strategies for the implementation of the Recommendations of Agenda 21, especially those related to Chapter 18 on the "Protection of the quality and supply of fresh water resources" and Chapter 7 on "Promoting sustainable human settlements development" as well as for the achievement of the goals agreed at the World Summit for Children.
    The Conference requests the multilateral and bilateral external support agencies to strengthen their assistance programmes for improving socio-economic conditions in developing countries and for the provision of appropriate water supply and sanitation services to low-income communities.

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