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Rainwater harvesting by women groups in Rakai and Masaka districts – Uganda

This project enables vulnerable women in Uganda to tap a clean and safe water source. “Rainwater harvesting by women groups in Rakai and Masaka districts” has trained women affected by HIV and tuberculosis to construct rainwater collection systems. These women have the chance to turn this into a business, besides receiving the life-changing benefit of water.

Fast facts:

  • Each rainwater harvesting “jar” can hold 1,500 liters
  • 1,089 rainwater jars put into place
  • 42 rural enterprises successfully established

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The problem

Many areas in the Rakai district of southern Uganda have brackish or dirty water not fit for human consumption. Climate change has affected groundwater tables, worsening this situation. Women in the region either spend long hours fetching water, or must spend a significant portion of their income on water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. The water scarcity problem in Rakai is becoming ever more critical. Conventional technologies like boreholes and streams have been prioritized there, despite their potential unsustainability.

The solution

The Uganda Rainwater Association trained women affected by HIV and tuberculosis in Rakai to construct rainwater catchment jars. Women have contributed a certain amount of money to the project, while the rest comes from the World Bank. The capacitation, which included apprenticeship programs for orphans and other vulnerable youth, allowed for the establishment of small enterprises based on producing the rainwater jars.

Helping the planet

Reducing dependency on conventional water sources allows them to recharge. The project has also decreased runoff from storm water, helping to prevent environmentally destructive floods and landslides.

Helping people

People in Rakai can now access higher-quality water for drinking, washing, and cooking. They are less likely to get ill from drinking brackish or contaminated water. And, since rainwater is free, women save money they might otherwise have spent on water. They also save time previously used fetching water, to engage in other income-generating activities, helping them to find a way out of poverty. The youth and women are empowered by the training, which helps build their capacity and turns them into agents of change in the community.

Spillover effect

Groups that were trained in this project have continued to construct rainwater jars, and even bigger-capacity tanks. The leading organization hopes to train other partners in the water sector on how to use a revolving fund mechanism specifically for promotion of rainwater harvesting.

It is apparent that hygiene and sanitation issues are a challenge in households with rainwater catchment jars. The project could be expanded to address these aspects and utilize harvested rainwater to its fullest.

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Images owned by the activity partners, all rights reserved.