Rainwater harvesting enables people at household and community levels to manage their own water, thereby reducing their reliance on, and burden of, central supply systems. Besides access to safe water, rainwater harvesting yields numerous benefits: environmental (no negative impact), social (empowers people), economic (relatively low cost), as well as contributing to sustainable development (poverty reduction).
Rainwater harvesting can be done anywhere. In developing countries, it provides ‘water without walking’: collected where it is used, at homes or community buildings. This saves time and energy, which can be spent on social and economic activities that can contribute significantly to poverty alleviation. In some settings it can also reduce the danger of attack associated with travelling long distances for water.
There are many different ways of rainwater harvesting. The catchment, a surface on which rain is falling and from which it is drained towards a storage system, might be a roof. The drained water from the catchment is thereafter stored in a clean tank to make it available for later use.
Technologies can be very simple, often employing traditional methods, or very sophisticated. Depending on the catchment surface, the quality and quantity of collected rainwater can be sufficient for consumption, irrigation, washing, bathing, cleaning – even toilet flushing.