International Rainwater Catchment Systems Conference
Mannheim, Germany - September 2001
Rainwater Catchment in Humid and Arid Regions
Securing Domestic Water Supplies for Rural Bangladesh Through Combined
Vadianstr. 42, CH-9000
Despite having access to abundant rainfall (albeit seasonal), readily
accessible groundwater and large river systems, many households do not
have access to an adequate supply of potable drinking water in today's
Water that is clean, clear, with chemical and bacteriological qualities
recognised by WHO as being suitable for human consumption is frequently
unavailable. Historically these serious and widespread shortages can be
attributed to high population growth rates and densities, combined with
low disposable household incomes.
In concerted attempts to address this situation, sustained efforts to
exploit groundwater were initiated in the early 1970s with the help of
international support. By the mid-90s, groundwater reserves were made
accessible on a nation-wide scale through the widespread provision of
handpumps and tube wells.
However, in 1993 the discovery of naturally occurring arsenic in some
aquifers began to emerge. By 1996, the extent of the problem became apparent:
approximately 20 million persons were now consuming drinking water with
arsenic levels above the WHO guideline value of 0.01mg/litre.
In the light of this water quality crisis, various stakeholders have
initiated arsenic mitigation measures in different ways. In this context
suitably harvested rainwater represents an acceptable alternative to overcome
and supplement the scarce and over-stressed potable water supply situation.
In some regions where families and communities are experiencing severe
water shortages, collected rainwater may even represent the only source
for potable drinking water.
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