Notes to broadcasters on rainwater harvesting

    | January 17, 2011

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    Interest in rainwater harvesting has increased in recent decades, as farmers more often face erratic weather patterns. Collecting rainwater for domestic use can be affordable and easy to set up in most households. This story shows that rainwater collection is not limited to rural areas, but can alleviate water shortages in urban areas too. It is an efficient way to take advantage of a freely available and precious natural resource, especially in regions where drought is becoming a more common occurrence.

    Practical Action, a UK-based NGO, have produced what they call a “Practical Answer” online technical guide on rainwater harvesting:

    CTA have made available a Rural Radio Resource Pack on rainwater harvesting:

    The Greater Horn of Africa Rainwater Partnership promotes rainwater harvesting and management in the region. It represents rainwater associations from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia. Access their website here:

    Many more links and resources can be found in “Water harvesting: An issue pack,” which was distributed with Farm Radio International’s script package 89 in December 2009:  

    Here is another story about urban water supply in Bulawayo:

    Here are some recent scripts on rainwater harvesting:

    Catch rain from your roof. Package 89, Script 6, December 2009  

    A woman farmer harvests water and grows vegetables in the dry season. Package 76, Script 9,
    October 2005

    Secondary school in South Africa harvests rainwater from the roof. Package 75, Script 3, June 2005

    Save Time with Rainwater Harvesting. Package 68, Script 7, September 2003

    Farm Radio Weekly published one story on this topic in 2008: 

    Kenya: Rainwater harvesting improves rural livelihoods (FRW 15, March 2008)

    Access to water is a vital concern for farmers, and a huge topic. You could focus on domestic rainwater harvesting as a practical way for farmers to address lack of water for household use, or for use in kitchen gardens. You could research which methods are commonly used by your listeners, for example, collecting water from rooftops in tanks, ponds or using small containers. You can also invite farmers to call or text your station with their rainwater harvesting experiences and innovations. Was it easy to store water safely? How long did it last? Could farmers store enough to keep gardens watered before more rain fell? Could sufficient water be collected to sustain staple crops? Or are larger more sophisticated techniques needed for staple crops?

    You could also contact local NGOs or government departments who work on large-scale water harvesting or irrigation projects which are more relevant for staple crops and legumes. How are the techniques for larger-acreage crops different? What opportunities are there for small scale farmers to harvest rainwater on a larger scale?