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

Section 3: Rainwater: Quality Issues

Paper 3.11

Improvement on the Harvested Rainwater Quality in Rural Areas of Southern Nigeria

Peter Andrew Ani and L.O. Mberede
"Mirindu" Enugu Catholic Diocesan Water Programme
Nigeria, email:


Water is life is an old axiom. The level of availability of potable water could serve as a yardstick for measuring the quality of life especially in developing countries.

Nigeria has a total landmass of 923,768 sq km. About half of the country is underlain by basement rocks, which comprise of metasediments, granite gress, quartzite granite etc. Whereas the other half is underlain by sedimentary rocks comprising of shale, sands, silt, clay limestone, etc.

The country is endowed with an estimated 267,000 million cubic meters of surface water, and about 52 million cubic metres per year of groundwater potential. These vast potential notwithstanding only 30% of the rural populace, 35% of semi urban and 50% of the nations urban dwellers are served with potable water. The outstanding water supply gap is augmented through other means including rainwater harvesting.

Annual precipitation varies from less than 500mm per annum in the arid north to about 3000mm per annum in the humid south. Evaportranspiration is less than annual precipitation in the South but there is more annual precipitation in the arid north. The rainy season spans May to October in the north but April to November in the south.

Rainwater harvesting is a practice as old as the emergence of man on earth. Initially, the quest was more for quantity rather than quality. As development progressed, the quality of the available water became addressed. Catchments system ranged from thatched roofs, earthen pots, cut calabashes, corrugated iron sheets, household cisterns, communal ponds to use of discarded burrows pits and earth dams. The quality of rainwater harvested from these catchments systems vary significantly.

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