conference: Making Rainwater a serious business
The International Conference on ";Water, Environment and Climate Change: Knowledge Sharing
and Partnership" conducted 10-12 April at Hotel Yak and Yeti, Kathmandu. Rt. Hon. Vice
President Nanda Kishor Pun, Democratic Federal Republic of Nepal, inaugurated the
Led by Han Heijnen, President, IRHA and GUTHI collaboratively promoted about rainwater
harvesting practices, products and systems through the two sessions and exhibition. There
were many people interested in the system, proving the effectiveness of presentation. Hari
Shova Gurung from SNV said, "The Sky Water Filter seems to be really nice and easily applicable
system. I have gutters and well in my home. I am very interested to install one at my home."
“Call it a rainwater day in the monsoon forecast- not a bad weather”
"We tend to call a rainy day as a bad day. It is simply raining, and not a bad weather", said
Bhushan Tuladhar, Techincal Advisor to UNHABITAT. Well, this lighted up the conference hall,
as everyone agreed to the statement. Session 11 and Session 16 were dedicated to rainwater
harvesting with a total of 12 presentations. The speakers were from different countries; Nepal,
China, Korea, Zambia, Mexico, and India.
In the keynote address, Guan Yuntao from China presented about the LID and Sponge City
technologies that have been successful to curb the water problems in his country. He mainly
focused on rainwater harvesting being the best remedy to control the non-point source
pollution. Han Heijnen in his keynote address said, "Rainwater harvesting as a big scope in the
exceptional situations where technology can't reach."
The first session was chaired by Suman Prasad Sharma, Former Secretary at the Ministry of
Finance, Government of Nepal who highlighted that there must be an implementable solution
so that rainwater harvesting is no more a puzzle. Indeed, the afternoon had many solution-
orientated presentation; in fact maximum were success stories, or plans that will be
Former secretary Sharma said that Rainwater Harvesting is a simple engineering solution for
water supply. In old times demand was small and so was the population, there were plenty
abundant resources to fulfill the water supply demand. Resources should be conserved before
they are contaminated and promoted along with maintaining balance in nature. People today
know the problems but not the solutions. No one-stop solution for RWH as other services like
solar energy is available in the market. A common outlet is necessary for people to come and
understand about Rainwater Harvesting.
Making Bhaktapur a Rain Efficient City
Sunil Duwal talked about the demand and supply gap for water in Bhaktapur, which needs 16 MLD of
water in a day but only, receives 1.2 MLD. The major problems were that the traditional water system
of spouts and wells were not working properly, there is insufficient supply and that some of the sources
do not lie within the municipality area, which leads to uncertainty about its availability in the future.
Duwal presented the solutions to be efficient water source management and rainwater harvesting. He
talked about the future plans on individual/local level, ward level and capacity building. The short term
plans included awareness raising and training. The mid-term plans focused on policy/regulations and
long-term plans were about runoff control and ground water recharge. He reiterated the need for
rainwater harvesting as well as rejuvenation of traditional water systems to combat the current water
Promotion of Rain cities in Korea by Multipurpose Rainwater Management
Prof. Mooyoung Han focused on a promoting a new paradigm for water management. The old
paradigm saw rainwater as a waste and the only focus on rain was in terms of flood control. But
by recognizing that “Rain is Money” and by collecting rainwater upstream in small scales, we
can govern rain and find multipurpose use for rainwater. With the use of micro-catchments, he
suggests we collect rainwater upstream in small scales. This collection can help in flood control
as well as provide a reservoir of water that can be used later on. He provided a case study of
Star city in Korea, which implemented this design. He also emphasized on the need to engage
the citizens in this scheme through various ways, on example of which is the rain festival in
Korea. He ended his presentation by restating that rain is money and we should treat it as such.
Feasibility and Adaptability of Sponge city concept – Case Study of Lusaka Zambia
Danny Bwalya talked about the concept of sponge cities, why they are needed and how they
can be and have been adopted across the world. Many places in the world, including his study
area of Lusaka sees weather extremes even including flooding in the rainy reason and droughts
in dry season. Sponge cities are a concept that balances these two extremes. The cities soak up
as much water as possible during the rainy season and squeezes out water during the dry
season. His concept retains 70% of the runoff. The concept has been adopted across the world
using various names but the concept remains the same. He compared the case of Lusaka with
Kunshan city, both of which have different demographic, environment and different struggles.
He also talked about the 4 aspects of sponge city: technical, regulatory, financial and social, all
of which require attention for a sponge city concept to be implemented well.
Promoting rain water Harvesting in Mexico City: Isla Urbana
David Vergas talked about his organization Isla Urbana that is a hybrid project (for profit as well
as an NGO) and its role in combating water shortage in Mexico City. Mexico City, which is
similar to Kathmandu valley in many ways faces rapid population growth and not enough water
for the people in the city. People spend as much as 20% of their salary on water. However
rainwater harvesting can provide for half a year’s worth of water for the population. In this
process, he highlighted the need to work with the community to come up with solutions that
work for them rather than simply coming in as an outsider and suggesting solutions. He
suggested we there needs to be shift in the thinking of the community for such an endeavor to
Promoting rainwater harvesting for providing climate resilient WASH services in Nepal
Kiran Darnal, Chief of Climate Change Adaptation and Appropriate Technology Development
Section, DWSS talked about promoting Rain Water Harvesting (RWH) for providing climate
resilient WASH service in Nepal. The key strategy for climate resilient WASH was impounding
reservoir. Impounding reservoirs play two important roles, ground water recharge and storing
water for dry season. This project was conducted in over 40 districts and served 26000
population in areas were there is water hardship.
Rain Drops Count: Revisiting “Finnida” Rain Water Harvesting jars
Sanna Leena Rautanea at Teamleader RWSSP-WN talked about the Finnida project which was
responsible for providing Rain Water Harvesting (RWH) jars to communities living in hill tops
who had to walk hours to fetch water every day. They provided 5592 RWH jars in the 3 years of
phase three. They found that people used spring water for drinking and rainwater for all other
purposes. Before installing RWH jars, women used to wake up at 4 am to fetch water. After
installing RWH jars, in some areas, mainly women were benefitted while in other areas
everyone was benefitted. Today, RWH jars were found to be still relevant. The households have
still maintained the RWH jars, which they only use during the dries of seasons. Due to less
winter rain, the RWH jars are in more demand, along with lift schemes to lift water to the
hilltops. She ended the presentation saying that there needs to be multiple water sources for
Quality Assessment of Collected and Stored Rainwater: Study from New Delhi, India
Dr Namrata Pathak Director, Technology Missions Division, Department of Science and
Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology, New Delhi shared, "Installing rainwater
harvesting systems will be more fruitful in the areas where the people are facing water crisis.
Those people know the importance of water and ownership will be higher; thus making the
system more efficient and sustainable”.
She further said, &"Rainwater harvesting has always been a part of Indian culture and history.
The method of ';catch where it falls' had been implemented since ancient times. But, the
municipal water supply has made people somewhat hesitant and lazy to harvest rainwater.
Nevertheless, now we are going back to adopting those traditional systems."
Water crisis in urban centers of Himalayas: Case of Kathmandu Valley
The presentation by Dr. Anjal Prakash of ICIMOD showed how socio economic status
determines the water access and the role of ground water and coping capacities. It also
explores quality and quantity issues. There is a huge gap in the supply and demand of water in
the valley and the perception among respondents is also that there is water shortage that has
increased over the last 5 years. However, household with higher income levels perceived lower
scarcity of water. Middle and upper class household have storage facilities as well as access to
tankers, which makes water scarcity a relatively low priority for them. The poorest are the most
affected by water crisis. The presentation also showed that there is not adequate regulation for
ground water extraction and tankers.
Role of Rain Water in Improving Access to drinking water and sanitation in Rural Nepal
Madan Bhatta at Helvetas Swiss revisited the rainwater jars in Dailekh district. It is found that
unlike other places, people in this region had no reluctance to drink rainwater as long as it is
collected above ground. RWH also decreased water-fetching time from 4.4 hours to 2.2 hours a
day. It reduced hours of unpaid work for women and fulfilled 50% of water demand. Overall
people perceived that access to RWH increased their educational situation, health situation and
women’s participation in society. He recommended that standard jar technology be followed
and there should be no compromise on design in favor of cost. Addition of low cost ponds also
enhanced efficiency of RWH.
Understanding Willingness to use rain Water Harvesting and Ground Water recharge in
Bijay Maharjan of ECARDS showed that there is increased water demand and a growing trend
of ground water extraction in Kathmandu. However, he found that almost half the people
surveyed had no knowledge about rainwater harvesting and 81% had no knowledge of ground
water recharge. There was also a great reluctance to adopt these practices. The reasons why
people were reluctant to adopt RWH was the perception that the water was no usable, that the
practice was unsustainable and lack of finance and technical knowhow. The reasons why people
were reluctant to adopt ground water recharge were because people saw no personal benefit,
perception that recharge may contaminate ground water or cause land subsidence as well as
lack of finance and technical knowhow. Overall, there seems to be a large knowledge gap
regarding rainwater harvesting ground water recharge. So, before any intervention activities
are conducted, there needs to be awareness and promotion of rainwater harvesting ground
Rainfall Data Analysis of Kolar District, Karnataka, India
The presentation by Praveena Kumara V from Central University of Karnataka, India analyzed
rainfall data of 6 stations in Kolar district from 1905 till 2015. He analyzed seasonal data, annual
data and drought conditions of the 110 years. He found that there is a probability of drought
every 5 years in the region and that the severity of drought was optimal in the year 1972.
Prakash Amatya, Technical Advisor, GUTHI reflected that the sessions were very interesting and
praise worthy. They surely lighted a spark on the global need of efficient rainwater harvesting
for environmental balance and human use. It was indeed a great platform to share the activities
that have been carried out globally, giving an opportunity to learn from success stories of
others. As a take away points he highlighted that rainwater should be used as primary source at
all levels that returns some direct economic benefit. A massive awareness and education is non-
negotiable where the skill development to the private entrepreneurs is a key. Policy,
regulations and enforcement should not stay in the books and dusted in the shelves. We have
to start appreciating the rainwater from the very beginning.
Professor Han ended the session urging that people need to think about both the water quality
and quantity and that with simple technology rainwater could be made drinkable.