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SEED Madagascar

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Project Tatirano

Improving access to clean drinking water via rainwater harvesting in the Anosy Region, southeast Madagascar.


Status: Fully funded
Date: October 2015 – Present
Target population: 16 rural fokontany (villages) in the Mahatalaky Commune
Location: Mahatalaky Commune, Anosy region, southeast Madagascar
Project partners: Tatirano Management Committee; local and regional Ministries for Education and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

Tatirano 2017 Harry showing video 2, JN

Why is it important?

Water is the greatest necessity for life on earth, but for millions of people around the globe unable to access clean sources, consumption of contaminated water includes digestion of parasites such as cryptosporidium, salmonella and giardia. These generally lead to diarrhoea, and in Madagascar, where just 35% of the rural population have access to an improved water source (UNICEF, 2014), over 2,000 children die each year from associated illnesses. The tragedy in their deaths lies in the simplicity of the solution: access to clean, improved water.

Rainwater has been collected for millennia across the globe, and whilst rainfall in the southeastern Anosy region of Madagascar is relatively high, rainwater harvesting is not widely practiced. A simple technique that can provide high volumes of clean water, rainwater harvesting has the potential to greatly impact the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Apart from the substantial health benefits of accessing clean water, when rainwater harvesting is practiced at the household level the technique eliminates the opportunity costs associated with water collection, allowing more time for educational, social and entrepreneurial activities.

Promoting the project in Ampanasatomboky
Promoting the project in Ampanasatomboky

What we're doing

In Phase 1, Tatirano – meaning “to collect water” in Malagasy – installed a rainwater harvesting system with a 20,000 litre capacity on the primary school roof in Ambandrika, Sainte Luce. By establishing and building the capacity of the community-elected Tatirano Management Committee, Tatirano has both ensured the sustainability of the school’s system and taken the first steps towards Sainte Luce becoming a regional exemplar of the technique. The system provides for 144 school children every school day and 750 members of the community up to four times a week, dependent on supply and functionality of the committee.

The second phase has seen both an extensive willingness to pay analysis and research of suitable materials inform project decision making to address two key questions:

  1. How does having clean water at the home effect people’s lives?
  2. Are some of the poorest people in the world willing to prioritise their income for clean water; a utility that is unlikely to directly increase income?

So far the project has signed up 15 households across five of the seven target communities. In order to pursue our second question, families are requested to pay 160,000 Ar (GBP 40.00) payable over six months. This loan mechanism is interest free and collateral is not required. The fact that families are paying up to 69% of the cost of the systems, excluding installation and transport costs, means that the project could act as a stepping stone towards a sustainable business in the future as there is potential for an actor to make money from the scheme.

Families already enrolled have reported benefits including more time to create marketable goods; more time spent caring for young children; savings from not paying expensive water collectors; and physical health benefits from not carrying heavy water loads for long periods of time.

The team seeks to increase sign up across the target communities to reach more people with the benefits that rainwater harvesting provides. The invaluable learning from the project across a variety of aspects will be published internationally to inform decision making across the sector, reaching more people with better practice.

Constructing the tarp system on a ravinala system
Constructing the tarp system on a ravinala system