04.12.2018 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

Rainwater Harvesting as adaptation strategy for Africa

Rainwater Harvesting flyer (c)UNESCO

In the African Water Vision for 2025, Africa's Water resources for sustainable growth can be harnessed in the region's economic and social development, through Rainwater Harvesting techniques.

Climate change is one of the main threat that puts increased pressure on already stressed hydrological systems and water resources. Climate change impacts are already visible given that temperature and rainfall variabilities have increased and intensified. Climate change will affect rainfall and increase evaporation, which will put increasing pressures on our ecosystems services. At the same time, development by a growing population will affect our ecosystems as we increase our demands for services, including reliable and clean water. Rainwater harvesting will continue to be an adaptation strategy for people living with high rainfall variability, both for domestic supply and to enhance crop, livestock and other forms of agriculture.

African countries too facing water shortages because of climate change and have a massive potential in rainwater harvesting in Africa of meeting the needs of their current populations. Overall, the quantity of rain falling across the continent is equivalent to the needs of 9 billion people, one and half times the current global population.

Although not all rainfall can or should be harvested for drinking and agricultural uses, with over a third needed to sustain the wider environment including forests, grasslands and healthy river flows, the harvesting potential is still much more than adequate to meet a significant slice of human needs.

What African countries can do to adapt to climate change is using rainwater harvesting as a technology, a management approach, to provide water resources at the community level. From the socio-economic point of view, Africa faces a crisis of endemic poverty and pervasive underdevelopment. Water has a vital role to play in responding to the socio-economic crisis facing Africa. Although several economic instruments are being deployed to address this crisis, the success of these efforts will depend heavily on the availability of sustainable water resources.

To address this, the African Water Vision for 2025 is set to develop the full potential of Africa’s water resources for sustainable growth in the region’s economic and social development, of which rainwater harvesting (RWH) and storage forms a major component. Among others, the Vision calls for “improving water wisdom”, which is to be achieved by establishing an elaborate system of data collection, management, dissemination, including standardization and harmonization of data and information.

UNESCO in partnership with AMCOW, UN Environment, UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), GWP Tanzania and UNESCO Category 2 centres Regional Centre on Groundwater Education, Training and Research, Nairobi, Kenya, Integrated River Basin Management, Kaduna, Nigeria, Regional Centre on Capacity Development and Research on Water Harvesting, Khartoum, Sudan developed a smart phone application for Rainwater Harvesting in Africa.

Currently this app is available for android UNESCO is working on iOS version. There is also a dedicated website for it. This smartphone application available in three languages English/French/Swahili. This application contains rainwater calculator, where anyone can calculate how much water they can harvest in the given geographical location in an interactive mode by providing necessary details. This application has more than 3500 rainfall records from all countries in African continent. Moreover, UNESCO produced advocacy videos (14 different topics) in animation format, calculator works offline and videos need internet connection.

The main aims of the smartphone application and website are twofold: to create awareness about the importance of rainwater harvesting especially in the event of climate change, and to to provide evidence to the people to calculate the quality of the rainwater they could harvest in a particular location by “do it yourself” interactive session.

It is the right time that the local government realise the seriousness of the situation. The ever increasing scarcity of water brought forth severe direct and indirect complications to society. Capturing rainwater at household and community level is ecologically safer, as against bottled water which is not only environmentally damaging but unaffordable for the majority of the people. Governments should therefore encourage such decentralised, local options by providing incentives in the form of exemption/reduction building or property taxes, in addition to making compulsory for all large private/public buildings and farm lands.

Additional links:

Website: http://rainwaterharvesting.africa

App in Play store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.abc.rainfallcalculator&hl=en


UNEP Web page link:https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/innovative-smart-phone-app-improve-rainwater-harvesting-africa

International Journal of Rural Development: https://www.rural21.com/english/news/detail/article/app-to-improve-rainwater-harvesting-00003237/


To access videos online:




Flyer: Rainwater Harvesting in English & French

From mobile phone play store you can search for: RWH Africa Interactive Too

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