International Conference on Rain Water Cistern Systems
"Rainwater Catchment for Future Generations"
Keelung, Taiwan, R.O.C. - August 1991
1: Keynote Papers
The Contribution of
Rainwater Catchment Systems to the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation
Decade : Lessons from Thailand
University of Kent, U.K.
Compared to the lofty goals set for the IDWSS Decade in the late 1970's, the
achievements in many developing countries seem disappointing. The Decade did,
nevertheless, coincide with a period of renewed interest in Rainwater Catchment
Systems (RWCS) technology and the implementation of many millions of tanks world-wide
made a significant contribution to improving both access and quality of domestic
water supplies for tens of millions of people. Although, during the last decade,
thousands of individual community projects around the globe have recognized the
potential for RWCS operating in tandem with other water supply technologies for
meeting their water supply needs; only one national government, that of Thailand,
has wholeheartedly taken the technology on board. Since the mid-1980's, Thailand
has actively promoted and supported RWCS through the Thai Jar Programme and has
incorporated it into its water supply provision plans at local, regional and national
.levels. The result. of this was the construction of around 10 million 1-2m3
jars and hundreds of thousands of 6-12m3 rainwater tanks by the end of the Decade
and Thailand becoming one of the few countries to even approach the IDWSS Decade
targets for rural water supply provision.
Despite its unprecedented scale and success, the rapid implementation of the
Thai jar programme encountered a variety of problems. These provide useful lessons
for others and are examined. in this paper. They include:
- The importance of conducting health and hygiene education campaigns associated
with the operation and maintenance of the RWCS before and during their implementation,
- The need for awareness about the adverse affects caused by the rapid commercialization
of tank/jar construction and implementation on their effective operation and maintenance.
- The importance of research and of communicating the findings of such research
widely and rapidly, particularly aspects relating to potential design problems
or health hazards related to rainwater supplies.
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