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)
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.
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:
So far the project has installed 64 household systems and there is a waiting list of 48 new families. In order to answer the second question we ask people to pay approximately 27% of the system cost, including transport. We have created a flexible six-month loan mechanism, free of interest and collateral to remove the barrier of a high total cost. We are charging people money to ensure ownership of the systems, and thus continued motivation to maintain the systems. Also, as demand for rainwater harvesting increases across the region, we hope that at some point it becomes a profitable business that can be copied by others - replicating and expanding the project into the future.
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.
Before the project continues along its current trajectory as it is setup now, we must be sure that repayments continue and that operation and maintenance is still at a high level after the project's direct influence has been removed. Exciting times!