Rainwater harvesting: Another cost effective source of water

A STRUCTURE built for rainwater harvesting. In urban centres sim tanks could also be ideal.


“WATER is life,’’ this is a common saying all over the world. There can be no life without water. The daily consumption of water at various places, including homes and industries, justifies this old adage.

Even in offices, schools and hospitals, many activities depend on water. People and animals drink it whenever they are thirsty, and that makes it the most important element in our lives.

However, the availability of piped water in urban areas, especially in the city of Dar es Salaam seems to be confined to a few areas of the city centre and a few outskirts like Kimara, Mbezi, Tabata, Mikocheni and Tegeta.

Other parts of the city, including Mtoni and Temeke also receive piped water, though their neighbours like Mbag ala and Kongowe get supply from deep wells.

Other areas of the city, including Tabata, Segerea, Vingunguti, Gongo la Mboto have no choice but to rely on wells drilled either by Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Authority ( DAWASCO), otherwise they have to depend on individuals drilling wells at a very high cost.

The cost of drilling one well ranges from 10m/- to 15m/- depending on how deep this structure will be. DAWASCO is charged with supplying and distributing water to residents in Dar es Salaam and Pwani Regions.

However, the authority cannot satisfy the increasing number of residential areas as the rate of population growth outpaces that of infrastructure development.

In some areas of Pwani regions, often one sees women and children carrying buckets of water drawn from shallowwells. This is a common sight in Kisarawe, Pugu and many villages in Kibaha District.

Unfortunately, water from shallow wells is usually con taminated, collecting waste matter downstream. Drilled water is often salty and needs to undergo processing before one can be certain to get clean drinking water.

It is clear that apart from DAWASCO and private individuals who are supplying water, there is need to look for other sources of water supply. In March and April, the country receives heavy rains and plenty of water can be collected from floods.

All of it however goes into the sea or simply disappears into the ground. Many people in urban centres do not seem to seize this as an opportunity to harvest clean and safe water.

Only a handful are aware of this rainy season advantage. “I get clean water throughout the year, no bills no shortage. My family can carry out all house chores without any interruption, thanks to the rainwater we harvest every season,’’ says 64 year-old Humphrey Isaac, a businessman who runs two butchers at Gongo la Mboto.

While he was constructing his house a couple of years back, he also dug a deep hole and installed twelve culverts to make a deep welllike structure.

Rainwater collects in the “well’’ and members of the household draw water using a small plastic container. The well is located in a convenient corner of the house for easy reach.

Rainwater harvesting involves collecting and storing water in cost effective structures mostly for domestic purposes. In some areas in the country, rainwater is harvested by building dykes and drawing it using water pumps.

In many urban centres, especially Dar es Salaam where access to water is such a big challenge, rainwater collection is an important task worth our consideration.

It may not necessarily involve a campaign, but a simple decision to make, by just including a rainwater structure in the house plan, while remembering that water is an essential component of a household.

Veronica Mwasha of Kimara has a different system. The roof gutters on her house collect rainwater and transfer it to five simtanks each with capacity to hold 5,000 ml of water.

“With this storage system, I have no complaint of water shortage at any time of the year. After all, in my area, we have no water pipe system, so I can never think of DAWASCO supplying us with water,’’ she says.

“We are used to fending for ourselves, most people however don’t go for rainwater. They draw it from drilled wells but this again is salty water.” A couple of weeks ago, DAWASCO celebrated Maji Week by connecting new customers almost for free, but these were required to pay at small installments to make that the exercise is not disrupted.

In fulfilling one of the requirements of the Sustainable Development Goals, residents have this obligation of helping the water authorities to look for another alternative source of water on their own.

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