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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 2.29

Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting Systems in the Tropics: Two Case Studies

Yves M. Lamour and Donatus Igbojionu
Postfach 110863
76058 Karlsruhe


In the realisation of water resources projects, development experts and engineers (who frequently carry out feasibility studies) generally give the preference to centralised systems and focus their attention on technical aspects. Yet, technologies used in conventional/centralised water supply systems more often than not are not sustainable, and make engineering services costly and often unaffordable by both governments and rural communities of developing countries. Consequently, despite intensified investments of governments in large schemes, the socio-economic situation have been steadily worsening, and catastrophic water scarcity have been spreading in semi-arid regions of Africa, Central and North America, and the Caribbean - affecting domestic water supply, food production, the agro-industry, employment and health.

In the face of local (ecological, socio-political, economic and technological) constraints in developing countries of the Tropics, decentralised rainwater harvesting/watershed management systems have proven most appropriate - particularly in absence of the huge capital necessary for centralised systems. The importance and appropriateness of the conservation of flood runoff in rural areas of developing countries, as opposed to the conventional exploitation of rivers, is the more significant, that water harvesting measures are much less costly than large dams schemes, and can be spread over time, when labour and time is available during the dry season. They can therefore be afforded without threatening the countries' economy through debts. Besides, the necessary capital is almost fully used to create work in the country itself, since the technical measures can be implemented and managed by the communities themselves. Furthermore, local capacity can be developed, while the low-level and low-cost technologies necessary are well known or understandable by rural people - having been developed by indigenous people themselves, as a sustainable adaptation of irrigated agriculture to the agro-climatic conditions prevailing in their difficult environment.

Similarly, in urban areas of humid and semi-arid regions, rooftop rainwater harvesting is being increasingly considered to compensate for shortage of domestic water supply due to scarcity of water or deficient centralised supply systems.

The short paper/poster will illustrate two case studies of rooftop rainwater harvesting:

  1. in richer city households in Haiti; and 
  2. in a project for poorer households in a rural town of Nigeria.

PDF of full document (3pp, 20kb)

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