Janet Umulisa walks about four Kilometres from Samuduha to Kabeza every morning in search for water. As a necessity of every household, Umulisa must therefore ensure that there is enough water before she goes to school. With this daily early morning workload, the poor girl manages to lose over 18 school hours a week compared to her counter parts in boarding school.
Statistics from Rwanda National Examinations Council show that out of 115,924 students that sat for Primary leaving exams last year, only 26.74 per cent were able to beat the pass mark of 38 per cent. More students can beat the pass mark if a family like Umulisa’s considered adopting a water harvesting culture to save time.
Harvesting water precisely means capturing rain where it falls or collecting the run off in one’s village or town as a means of water storage to ensure constant supply in times of water scarcity.
“Water is a key driver of economic and social development while it also has a basic function of maintaining the integrity of the natural environment. It should be remembered that water is one of the vital natural resources for human life,” a United Nations Water status report of 2008 says in part.
As an essential for life and good health, a water crisis may hinder the ability to reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth as well as development.
Despite its significance, many parts of the world remain devoid of a steady supply of clean water. As a matter of fact, access to water resources is still at a low level especially in developing countries.
As a prerequisite for development, the UN Millennium Development Goals called for reducing by half the number of people without access to clean water by 2015.
The government of Rwanda in reaction has increased the levels of water provision to different sectors of the country.
Electrogaz, the Rwanda’s water utility company has managed to increase water provision to many parts of the country. Despite all the efforts, water scarcity remains a major problem.
The International Development Association (IDA) is one of the organisations that have helped improve access to water services in Rwanda today. The organisation confirmed that by 2006 only 352,000 Rwandans had access to water.
In conjunction with other donor partners the association has contributed over 20 million dollars to help the government in implementation of the water provision framework.
The Rwanda Clean Water project has also positively impacted on families and communities with clean water since 2005.
In light of the above, it is evident that a lot of effort is geared towards adequate water provision to all Rwandans but there is need to develop a water harvesting culture such that we ensure a sustainable supply.
The agricultural sector also depends on the water harvesting method as a solution to food insecurity. Harvested water is used for irrigation purposes especially when dry seasons come around.
In fact, the Rwanda Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) started water harvesting in the southern and eastern provinces in 2007.
“As we harvest water, we target areas that are susceptible to drought. So far we have dug ponds or check dams in these areas from which we irrigate agricultural land. Some are located in south Bugesera, Ruhango and Nyanza. More are yet to be built in Rwamagana, Gisagara and Kirehe,” said Patrice Hacyizimana, the Director of RADA.
According to Hacyizimana, there are over 170,000 hectares of mass land and gravity irrigation is mainly practiced on these hectares. The main crop grown is rice.
“We intend to harvest rain water in the hill lands as well in order to facilitate agriculture in those places,” he added.
Harvesting water for domestic purposes is also very important. One major way is by capturing runoff water from roof tops. In this case, the total amount of water that is received in form of rainfall over an area can be effectively harvested in the correct water harvesting potential.
Water harvesting can happen naturally in rural areas. However for people who live in places that are a little bit congested like some parts of Kigali city, there is need to harvest rain water.
Orient a plumbing design such that water can be directed from the roof top or areas of over flowing and to a water storage container by use of pipes. Many people may prefer water tanks and these come in different shapes and hold different capacity.
Remember to include a filtration system to ensure cleanliness. Although some people may disregard them as expensive methods of water storage, the good news is that such storage will be very useful in times of water scarcity.
Harvesting water in rural areas takes a different form. This is mainly because most of the rural people may not afford water tanks. In this case, wells should be constructed but with a bore hole within 10 to 20 feet.
Rural people normally confuse wells to be water storage facilities. However, they should be educated that a well simply connects the surface to the under ground water sources.
Therefore as water levels go up and down wells may not solve scarcity problems. It is important to educate the villagers about the need to keep the area around the well or borehole, very clean.