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

Section 5: Legal and Political Aspects of Rainwater Harvesting

Paper 5.5

Through Rainwater Harvesting to Sustainable Development

Julianne Rugasira


Rakai district is situated in the South-western region of Uganda. The main cash activity is subsistence agriculture. The area is one of worst affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and has one of the highest percentages of orphans per household in the country.

Rakai was among the districts benefiting from the South-West Integrated Project (SWIP) whose objective was to provide safe drinking water to rural communities. However, the potable use of ground water was highly constrained by poor water quality exhibited by high concentration of iron and possibly high levels of trace elements. This meant that the only option for provision of safe water was rainwater harvesting. Rakai receives about 800 mm of rain annually, which made it conducive to promote domestic rainwater at household level.

As a result the Rakai district administration looked around for partners to assist solving this problem. Many of the families in this district are child/widow headed households with orphans due to the AIDS epidemic in the area. The provision of safe water would pay a major role in the reduction of the burden for collecting water especially for the children and women.

SIDA Nairobi was one of the partners that accepted to work with the Rakai administration to promote domestic rainwater harvesting.

SIDA sponsored six Kenyan women experienced in water tank construction in early 1997 as consultants together with a technician to assist Ugandan women groups in Rakai to construct their own water jars and tanks. Two groups benefited from the training: "Katuntu Twekambe Women's Group" and "Bakyala Kwekulakulanya women's group." The women groups had one common problem and a shared vision for clean and safe water. This was all it took to get the women moving!
The groups were taught how to make 2 water tanks: a jar and a ferrocement tank, which costs Uganda shillings 160,000 (US$ 106) and 240,000 (US$ 159) respectively. The training lasted two weeks. After the training the two women groups embarked on the construction of tanks. The District Water Officer was very instrumental in the promotion of these groups. He introduced them to various donors and NGOs in the district for support with materials like cement, wire mesh etc. The district pledged to assist the groups on technical issues, mobilization, and promotion. With the technical issues and roles and responsibilities set the groups went to work.

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