The importance of rainwater harvesting tanks in Kenya
FORT THOMAS, Kentucky – The average cost of dealing with a remote or unreliable water supply in rural Kenya is around $ 38 per month. In comparison, the average water bill for a typical Nairobi household connected to a piped water system is only $ 4.46 per month. Why this gap? About 32% of Kenyans suffer from limited access to clean and reliable water sources. However, the load tends to fall more heavily on unconnected rural communities than on grid-connected households. Over the past decade, one of the most promising technologies used to bring water to rural communities has been rainwater harvesting reservoirs in Kenya.
Arid Republic of Kenya
Climatic conditions contribute significantly to water insecurity in Kenya. Kenya is an incredibly drought-prone country with arid and semi-arid lands covering 80% of the land. Periodic droughts are increasingly frequent due to environmental degradation and climate change. Droughts tend to have a domino effect on food security, livelihoods, environmental sustainability and poverty reduction. Agriculture, at the heart of Kenya’s economic and social development, is mainly depends on precipitation, making the country even more vulnerable to the ramifications of drought.
Rainwater collection tanks: a promising solution
Rainwater harvesting reservoirs have long been proposed as a way to mitigate the impacts of drought and maintain a potable water supply in unconnected rural communities. They can also be useful in areas where pipes fail to produce a reliable and consistent water flow. The design is quite simple. A the harvesting system captures rainwater and directs it from a large area, usually a roof, to a holding tank which may be located above or below the ground. This reservoir then provides a source of filtered water that can be pumped directly to devices such as toilets, tubs, sinks and agricultural irrigation systems.
Having a reservoir as a resource for drinking water allows rural households to spend less time traveling to other dangerous and unsanitary sources and provides a safety net to fall back on in times of extreme drought. Overall, rainwater harvesting tanks in Kenya help give households and farmers reliable and convenient access to water, thereby improving their health and productivity.
Guaranteed loans per reservoir
Despite these advantages, the price of a rainwater harvesting tank is financially unfeasible for many Kenyan households. Although loans are available, the standard loan product requires a large down payment and strict guarantor requirements. It requires someone else to insure up to two-thirds of the loan on behalf of the borrower.
In response to this, a Kenya Dairy Savings and Credit Cooperative (SACCO) piloted a program that randomly offered some farmers the option of replacing these standard loans with loans guaranteed by the rainwater harvesting tank. himself. This resulted in a 40% increase in loan use with almost no recovery. The standard loan subscription rate was only 2%, but rose to 42% when reservoirs could provide collateral for everything but 4% of the loan. The deposit was a guarantee for the remaining 4%.
SACCO has found its innovative loan product effective in expanding access to rainwater harvesting tanks in Kenya. He then partnered with a group of researchers to trace the positive spillover effects of this fit. One of these results was that girls spent 35% less time fetching water. As a result, girls had higher enrollment rates. The conclusion is that when the rainwater harvesting tank technology in Kenya is combined with accessible credit products, it can dramatically improve lives.
New challenges in the era of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand for drinking water as the World Health Organization urges people to wash their hands in order to slow the spread of the virus. In rural Kenya, where much of this water comes from rainwater harvesting tanks, many families are considering adding additional tanks. However, government stay-at-home orders have been a barrier to purchases. In addition, increased demand has caused tank prices to skyrocket in some areas. In Chuka, the prices of a few 1000 liter cisterns have increased by 40% from the previous price to 10,000 Kenyan shillings ($ 95).
Although the COVID-19 pandemic presents new challenges, rainwater harvesting tanks remain a crucial solution in the campaign to bring clean, accessible and affordable water to all who live in the arid republic. .
– Margot Seidel