Rainwater harvesting critical in addressing water scarcity

The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development says placing rainwater harvesting technology as a major area of developing new water source would make the water resource sector vibrant in promoting national development.

Controller of Agricultural Services in the Ministry Grey Nyandule-Phiri said this on Friday during this year’s National Rainwater Harvesting Stakeholders’ Conference held at Capital Hotel in Lilongwe.

The technology, which involves collecting and storing rainwater from places like rooftops, land surfaces or rock catchments through underground and above ground tanks, water storage ponds and earth dams, is very critical in addressing water scarcity in the country, according to Nyandule-Phiri.

“In the current status of the country’s water resources, it is only improved and more sustainable resource management interventions like rainwater harvesting that can help Malawi emerge from her current problems of water deprivation,” he said.

He further said that serious water resources degradation in catchments and increasing water demand due to increasing population pressure has left the country with no choice but to look for innovative means like rainwater harvesting technologies to cushion itself from the adverse effects of water scarcity.

Phiri then called for coordination of various interest groups so that the development and distribution of these technologies should be well known and documented to provide guidance and information to effectively plan, monitor and integrate the rainwater subsector activities into the other programmes of water sanitation.

Said he: “There is a need for strategic partnership in developing proposals and implementation of rainwater harvesting technologies in order for the general public to embrace them for their own needs.”

He, however, said that promotion of the technologies should also give more attention to some critical aspects like health implications of harvested water and water quality management.

During the conference, experts highlighted a number of critical factors affecting the water sector and provided some viable solutions towards addressing the same.

Erratic climatic patterns resulting in flooding and drought has left Malawi reeling from the adverse effects of food insecurity and water scarcity. The shortage of water resources has seen urban areas like Lilongwe City subjected to water rationing at least three times a week.

The adoption of rainwater harvesting technologies is seen as one way of providing viable solutions to the emerging water crisis threatening urban and rural populations in efforts to achieve agricultural productivity for their livelihoods as well as access potable water.

Apart from above ground and underground tanks, other technologies promoted for rainwater harvesting designed to alleviate the impacts of droughts include conservation agriculture, box ridges, contour ridging, terracing and infiltration pits. These technologies help to increase water percolation into the soil and also contribute to reduced soil erosion, according to experts.

This year’s conference, which drew participants from the water sector, academia and interest groups, was held under the theme “The role of rainwater harvesting in addressing water scarcity in Malawi.

The Rainwater Harvesting Association of Malawi (RHAM) organised the conference with funding from the Soil Health Consortium of Malawi (SOHCOM).

Source: Malawi News Agency