Improving access to clean drinking water via rainwater harvesting in Sainte Luce, Anosy Region, southeast Madagascar.
Water is the greatest necessity for life on earth and consuming contaminated water causes diseases such as cryptosporidium, salmonella and giardia. These diseases most commonly display themselves as diarrhoea and in Madagascar, where just 35% of the rural population has access to an improved water source, over 2,000 children die each year from easily preventable and treatable diseases.
Whilst rainwater has been collected for millennia across the globe and 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, it has the potential to have a great impact on the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Apart from its substantial health benefits, when rainwater harvesting is practiced at the household level the technique eliminates the opportunity costs associated with water collection, allowing more time for educational, economic and entrepreneurial activities.
Tatirano, meaning “to collect water” in Malagasy, has installed a very simple rainwater harvesting system with a 20,000 litre capacity on the primary school roof in Ambandrika, Sainte Luce. Responding to a need and an opportunity, the project has mobilised the Sainte Luce community to become champions of rainwater harvesting. 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 school’s 144 children now have access to clean water from the system and education sessions have been highly successful, with 70% of children drinking water from the system exclusively. Given that the count of disease-causing faecal coliforms is 44 per 100 millilitres lower in the rainwater tanks than the commonly used school well, further positive health implications for the children are expected and will be monitored over the next two years. Additionally, benefits of the system are being felt across the wider community, with the Tatirano Management Committee promoting rainwater harvesting and providing access to the system for the 750 residents of Ambandrika every week.
The Travers Cox Charitable Foundation