What is Rainwater Harvesting?
Water is the new gold. Declared a human right by the United Nations, access to clean drinking water is a life-or-death struggle for billions of people worldwide. Not only is it vital to quench thirst, but it's essential to grow food and mitigate diseases.
Sound the Alarm
Hunger stones are appearing as Europe’s rivers run dry, rocks buried for centuries that foretell doom when the water levels drop.1 The United States government released a report saying that within ten years, it is likely we will see governments fail as a result of drought. The use of water as a weapon or leverage for criminal activities might play out in several key regions including North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.2
Drought isn’t academic anymore, it’s an evolving threat with dire consequences. By 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in a place where water is scarce. It’s not because there is any less water on planet Earth than there was millions of years ago, but shifting weather patterns due to climate change and the explosive population growth mean that what we have won’t stretch as far.3
While the planet is mostly water, only about 2.5% of that water is safe to drink. That means that we have to find ways to purify and capitalize on the water resources available to us. There are several options available including tapping into groundwater, purifying surface water and collecting rainwater.
Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD) has been building wells and purification treatment plants for nearly a decade. At work in over seventeen different countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, HHRD’s WASH program (Water And Sanitation Hygiene) is completely donor funded. Money spent by charitable individuals in the United States is transformed into working facilities that supply entire schools and villages with fresh water for drinking and irrigation.
In 1993, in response to a growing alarm over the state of the world’s fresh water, the United Nations established World Water Day. Each year we celebrate this occasion by learning about water conservation, planting trees and distributing fresh water. In 2022, the theme of the event was Groundwater, Making the Invisible Visible.
Groundwater is found underneath the surface of the Earth, filling the spaces between soil particles and broken rocks. It is this resource that people tap into when digging wells. Groundwater is particularly vulnerable to pollutants and is not an infinite resource. In some regions, we are forced to dig more than 200 meters to hit the water table. These areas are often the hardest hit by drought, leaving the land impossible to farm. When it rains, there is no way to preserve the water and the earth is ill equipped to absorb it.
Rainwater Harvesting is a new initiative designed to capitalize on intermittent rains in locations where groundwater is scarce. Specifically, it is the collection, conveyance, conservation, and storage of rainwater in structures for future use. It differs from the wells and pumps utilized traditionally because it does not tap into the groundwater. It’s not a new idea, but we’ve brought new technology in the design and implementation of the water tanks, making them sustainable for the long term.