International Conference on Rainwater Catchmant Systems
in Rainwater Collection for Low-Income Communities and Sustainable Development"
Nairobi, Kenya - August 1993
By Professor Francis J.
Vice-Chancellor. University of Nairobi
The Honourable Minister for Land Reclamation, Regional and Water
Development; Director Habitat; Director, UN1CEF; Representatives of SIDA and the
Netherlands; Directors of Government Departments; Professor Yu-Si Fok, President
of the International Rainwater Catchment Systems Association; Mr John Mbugua,
Chairman of this Conference; Distinguished Guests; Ladies and Gentiemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all on this important
occasion. Many of you have travelled long distances to attend this Conference,
some from as far as Hawaii and Japan. You are all most welcome and we wish that
your stay in Kenya will be both rewarding and enjoyable. If we can do anything
to assist you to make the most of your time in Kenya, please let us know.
When the conference organizing committee requested the University of Nairobi 10
host this conference we were pleased to accept. As an institution of higher learning
we have been involved in training, research and development activities to support
the efforts of the Kenya Government to meet the needs of our expanding population
for improved water supplies. The goal which was set in the sixties of "water
for all by the year 2000" was very ambitious, and though much progress has
been made, it is clear that a lot remains to be done.
Kenya suffers from low and unreliable rainfall over about 80%
of the country which is semi-arid, arid or very arid. In these areas people tend
to be widely scattered and the provision of a piped water supply is difficult.
Even in the 20% of the country which has more humid conditions water is often
in short supply.
It is becoming dear that much more could and should be done to
harvest rain where it falls. Having water close to home can not only relieve the
burden of carrying it for long distances but can make a major contribution to
improved health. Harvesting rainwater is not a panacea - sometimes there is little
or no rain, as we have experienced recently. However, whereas rainwater often
goes to waste, it could be used to augment other supplies for domestic purposes,
and to some extent for livestock and crops. There are many ways in which this
can be done and we hope to gain much from those of you who will share experiences
of rainwater harvesting in different parts of the world, during this conference.
The University of Nairobi hosted the 2nd National Conference
on Rainwater Catchment Systems, in Nairobi in August last year and we were pleased
that Kenya was chosen as the venue for the 6th International Conference on this
The conference organizing committee represents a wide range of
organizations including government bodies, parastatals, non-government organizations,
donor agencies and consulting firms. They have been busy making preparations for
this conference and I must thank them for the hard work that they have done. The
cooperation between many different organizations in this way is to be commended
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