Water Portal / Rainwater Harvesting

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Rainwater harvesting is a technique of collection and storage of rainwater into natural reservoirs or tanks, or the infiltration of surface water into subsurface aquifers (before it is lost as surface runoff). One method of rainwater harvesting is rooftop harvesting. With rooftop harvesting, most any surface — tiles, metal sheets, plastics, but not grass or palm leaf — can be used to intercept the flow of rainwater and provide a household with high-quality drinking water and year-round storage. Other uses include water for gardens, livestock, and irrigation, etc.

The reasons for using rainwater harvesting systems answer three questions:

What: Rainwater harvesting will improve water supply, food production, and ultimately food security.

Who: Water insecure households or individuals in rural areas will benefit the most from rainwater harvesting systems.

How: Since rainwater harvesting leads to water supply which leads to food security, this will greatly contribute to income generation.

Rainwater Harvesting TOOLS - simple methods applicable to project planning
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3R (Recharge,
Retention & Reuse)
Business Development -
Multiple Use
Services (MUS)
RWH Tool
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Rain is Gain Tool
Rainwater Harvesting
WASH Environmental
Sustainability Assessment

Rainwater Harvesting TECHNOLOGIES - technical construction details, costs, and applicability
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Surface water
Groundwater recharge
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In situ
Surface water
Fog and dew

RWH INNOVATIONS - approaches, technologies, applications and projects on 3R, MUS and sustainable financing
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Salyan and Dailekh,
Salyan District,
Kajiado, Kenya -
3R and MUS
Rwambu, Uganda -
Clearwater Revival
Uganda Hills

Example rainwater harvesting in India

A temple pond at Mylapore, Chennai, India

Tamil Nadu is the first Indian state to make rainwater harvesting mandatory. On 30 May 2014, the state government announced that it will set up 50,000 rainwater harvesting structures at various parts of the capital city of Chennai. [1]

Around 4,000 temples in Tamilnadu state traditionally had water tanks that were used for various rituals. The tanks also served as natural aquifers and helped recharge groundwater. Over the years, however, many of these tanks have gone out of use. Overflowing mounds of silt and garbage have replaced the water in them.

Now, following sustained campaigns by voluntary organisations and departments in charge of water distribution and use, authorities in Chennai have decided to restore around 40 major temple tanks in the city. The aim is to convert the tanks into catchments for rainwater harvesting. [2]

Rainwater harvesting links

Rainsong video

Regional experiences

It looks at issues like long-term functionality and impact of the intervention, summarizing the findings in four key sustainability dimenstions: technical, socio-environmental, institutional, and economic. The study concludes that RWH enjoys high technical and socio-environmental acceptance, but that the institutional and cost-recovery dimensions are weaker, leading to an overall estimate of "sustainable but at risk" for the VDC at hand.

Technologies & methods


Organizations & groups

  • Rainwater harvesting sources. A list of 45 NGOs, government organizations, and some private companies that focus on rainwater harvesting programs, policies, and supplies.
  • Rainwater for Food Security: We set an enabling environment for rainwater harvesting (RWH), in order to significantly increase food security. With help of our community on Rainwater Harvesting, we support the development of a more unified global network of national and regional organisations, networks and professionals, working in or interested in rainwater harvesting. By bringing together these key-actors and sharing knowledge in multiple ways, the Rainwater for Food Security programme aims to achieve sustainable change in rainwater harvesting programmes.
  • Rainwater Harvesting Community on Dgroups.

Community Exchange - Rainwater Harvesting

The image below is the entry to conversations about rainwater harvesting (RWH) including best practices, troubleshooting, and advice about tanks and systems. We sourced these from the Rainwater Harvesting Community - a sub community within the Rural Water Supply Network community on Dgroups - which is a free member-only forum, where people can ask a pool of over 700 members from 86 countries about rainwater harvesting. You can become a member on their site for greater involvement, if you have questions you need to know for your RWH project. Click on the image to get started! Or click here.

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Field experiences

These projects are utilizing rainwater harvesting techniques and are part of the project listing in Really Simple Reporting (RSR) on Akvo.org. Click the image to get started!

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RSR Project 790
WASH program in Rural Bangladesh
RSR Project 427
Scale up of Sustainable Water Access
RSR Project 446
Etude technique d’avant-projet
RSR Project 158
Rainwater harvesting for Nicolas School
RSR Project 128
Safe water supply for Fayaco, Senegal
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RSR Project 398
Rainwater Harvesting Capacity Center
RSR Project 533
Support on WASH - in Miyo woreda
RSR Project 459
Upscaling CLTS for Healthy Communities
RSR Project 456
Partnership in WASH services delivery
RSR Project 462
Northern Region WASH Programme
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RSR Project 440
Raising awareness on rainwater harvesting
RSR Project 439
Wetland Management & Water Harvesting
RSR Project 545
Rain Water Harvesting in Nepal
RSR Project 403
Rainwater Harvesting in Kenya
RSR Project 840
Rainwater harvesting in Guinee Bissau 2


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Many of the tools, technologies, and projects on this page are courtesy of the Rainwater Harvesting Implementation Network.

RAIN is an international network with the aim to increase access to water for vulnerable sections of society in developing countries - women and children in particular - by collecting and storing rainwater.

Started in December 2003, RAIN focuses on field implementation of small-scale rainwater harvesting projects, capacity building of local organisations and knowledge exchange on rainwater harvesting on a global scale.