India-Africa Experience Sharing Workshop on Urban Rainwater Harvesting-Mainstreaming sustainable water management

25th February, 2015

Venue: Tamarind Hall, Core 4B, Upper Ground, India Habitat Centre

Africa water demand increase is projected to be 283 percent – 3 times higher than any other region. A significant portion of new demand approx. 90 bill cu.m (20 percent) is from municipal and domestic sectors.  African cities through conventional water management, struggle to provide access to water to their current population and hence dependence on bore wells has increased over the last decade resulting in unsustainable groundwater extraction. 

Rainwater harvesting in cities can contribute significantly in addressing water demand – supply gap, dealing with water logging /flooding and recharging the depleting aquifers.   

Chandra Bhushan, Dy Director General CSE, while addressing the participants at the inaugural session mentioned that CSE with its strong local roots and deep regional experience working in South Asia on urban rainwater harvesting aims to interlink local and global action, especially in Africa.

Dr Suresh Rohilla, Programme Director CSE addressing the participants stated that the workshop was aimed at experience sharing on mainstreaming urban rainwater harvesting  and identification of challenges, issues and capacity building needs of both state and non-state actors in select countries of Africa in implementing BMPs and developing a south – south network of practitioners, regulators and other stakeholders.  

The workshop was attended by key actors from 18 countries – who were invited to make a country presentation. 

Key points highlighted in the presentation are as follow

Prof. Bancy Mati, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya mentioned that in Kenya, rainwater harvesting in urban areas is a disappointment as most municipal councils had by bylaws that forbid RWH due to pollution concerns. The bye-laws have now been repealed promote urban rainwater harvesting.  

Jay Bhagwan, Executive Manager - Water Research Commission, South Africa shared that in South Africa also under the municipal water supply act no person may use or permit water obtained from a source other than the water supply system of the city for domestic purposes. He further stated that WRC recommends the “Water Sensitive Design and Planning” concept.  Only 0.5% of households (mainly informal and peri – urban households) depend on RWH. Presently there is a conflict between the national policy and municipal byelaws and quality of rainwater harvested and its treatment is a major concern that needs to be addressed. 

Nuredin Mohammed Beyan, Director Water & Sanitation - Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Ethiopia shared that in Ethiopia water supply is mainly dependent on groundwater and that rainwater harvesting is a common practice in rural areas. He highlighted the need for promoting rainwater harvesting in the urban areas of Ethiopia.      

Henrietta Osei-Tutu, Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, Ghana shared that the national water policy has RWH component but in practice the new buildings in urban areas are not constructed with RWH structures. Also there is lack of documentation of urban rainwater harvesting practices.

Similarly the country presentation(s) of Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia mentioned that in these countries rain water harvesting is not a common practice in urban areas. The country presentation on Malawi and Vietnam highlighted in general, the lack of encouraging or regulating environment for urban rain water harvesting but reported that roof top rainwater harvesting is being practised in some areas.   

But Rwanda as an exception amongst the country presentations seem to be quite proactive in encouraging rainwater harvesting in urban areas. According to Gaston Ndayisaba Karuhanga, representing Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA) - a national strategy for RWH is being developed by RNRA. Already RWH for 13,000 households is under construction. 

South Asia country presentation (namely Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and India) highlighted the proactive policies and practice of urban rainwater harvesting in urban areas. CSE South Asia programme partners shared the range of activities undertaken - training programmes, workshops, policy advocacy, youth engagement as well as various successfully implemented rainwater harvesting projects. This included the successful network of practitioners called ‘RAIN Forum’, model course curriculum for universities/colleges and ‘raincentre(s)’ in Bangladesh; private enterprise development– ‘Smartpani’ for promoting RWH and youth engagement in Nepal and; various policy and programmes initiatives centre / state government and urban local bodies in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India for promoting urban rainwater harvesting aimed at mainstreaming sustainable water management.   

However all country representatives had a consensus on the potential rainwater harvesting and the need creating enabling framework supported by capacity building (of both state and non-state practitioners, regulators, managers) and need for a south-south exchange in African and Asian town/cities.  

Photo Gallery

For further details contact: 

Mahreen Matto, Programme Officer

Suresh Rohilla, Programme Director