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10th International Rainwater Catchment Systems Conference
"Rainwater International 2001"
Mannheim, Germany - September 2001

Section 2: Rainwater Catchment in Humid and Arid Regions

Paper 2.24

Rainwater Catchment Systems in Latin America

Manuel Anaya-Garduño
Graduate College


At present time, there are available many alternative technologies for freshwater augmentation and soil conservation in Latin America and the Caribbean, many of them generated by Inca, Maya, and Aztec cultures, it is necessary to rescue them and combine them , when it is possible, with modern knowledge in order to establish technological options for all diverse social, cultural and economical conditions. Most critical global issues in arid and semiarid areas are reversing desertification, preventing soil erosion and increasing production. Rainwater catchment systems mean a reinterpretation of ancient techniques developed in the Middle East and America but forgotten by modern science and technology.

Rainwater catchment systems (RWCS) for water resources development, desertification control, flood water harvesting, recharge of aquifers, recreation and sustainable agriculture, represent efficient technologies for sustainable development. However, there is an urgent need for promoting massively RWCS as real alternatives to solve severe problems of water scarcity and soil conservation. Rainwater provides water for drinking, domestic, recreative, industrial and agricultural purposes. Water crisis and land degradation are problems of management which have social, economical, and ecological impacts.

These technologies should be widely used; however, only few countries are paying attention to them, they are the following: U.S. Virgin Islands, Honduras, Costa Rica, ,Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Argentina, Brazil, The Turks and Caicos Islands, Bahamas, Chile, Venezuela, Jamaica, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Mexico. This paper describes some of RWCS in the region used for domestic and agricultural purposes, they include water collection from rooftops, soil conservation, runoff management and "in situ" catchment for agriculture purposes. In those countries where the government has established subsidies, community participation is high because these technologies are well accepted, because they are inexpensive and effective; however, there are serious economical and social challenges to solve in order to use RWCS in a massive way, mainly in isolated and poor communities so, It is urgent to develop and apply an integrated water resources management program to stop the chronic and growing water crisis which will provoke wars if adequate measurements are not taken by the governments in this region. Water and soil management represent strategies to prevent and combat land degradation in the region.

PDF of full document (3pp, 20kb)

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