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, 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 very simple 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.
Of the school’s 144 children, 70% exclusively use the system for their drinking needs, with broader sanitation and hygiene improved through education sessions. Given that the count of disease-causing faecal coliforms is 43 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.
Entering its second phase, Tatirano seeks to bring rainwater harvesting to the household level across the community of Sainte Luce. Meetings with stakeholders – ranging from town ministries to village households – will help foster a universal perception of the benefits and costs of rainwater harvesting at the home. Following household interviews and signing up the first 50 participants in June, a meticulously designed simple system will be scaled out. The rate of subsidy will be derived from an extensive willingness and ability to pay analysis, intending to reach a maximum target audience whilst maintaining household ownership. Educational classes will be run alongside detailed monitoring and evaluation to inform a sustainable model that can be replicated across the region. To test this model, secondary monitoring and evaluation will be carried out for a further 150 households in the second year of the project, reaching over 2,000 people with the benefits of rainwater harvesting.
The Travers Cox Charitable Foundation