Rain water harvesting


Rain water harvesting has been practiced for thousands of years in different parts of the world, in towns as well as in rural areas. Several of these traditional practices have been improved and are now being used via development projects to enhance the access to water where it is insufficient.


Water is one of the most important natural resources in Mali, especially in arid regions. It is also a resource that is connected to food security for vulnerable households, as it is necessary for every production activity (agriculture, livestock breeding) as well as for human consumption.

Rain water harvesting has been practiced for thousands of years in different parts of the world, in towns as well as in rural areas. Several of these traditional practices have been improved and are now being used via development projects to enhance the access to water where it is insufficient. Rainwater harvesting is defined as "the collection and storage of water running off from surfaces where is has landed", and consists of several techniques; rain water harvesting on roofs or on the ground, different types of dams (underground or on the surface) and ponds. The goal can simply be to collect water for different purposes, but also to reduce the flooding of groundwater reservoirs.

From 2007, the DCG Mali conducted a project to deal with this situation and to contribute to improve water access of populations in arid zones through the identification and adaptation of rainwater harvesting techniques.

The overall objective of the rainwater harvesting project is to develop appropriate techniques and approaches for the harvesting and use of rainwater to contribute to improved water access and food security in arid zones of Mali.

The specific objectives for 2009 are:

Continue the evaluation of systems of rainwater harvesting from roofs at Birtianga (Timbuktu), Zalablabé (Gao) and at Nara.

Disseminate the results at a workshop and through final report that is being produced.

train villagers in the construction of rainwater harvesting systems.

A study on the subject, which is the first step of the three-year-plan, was conducted by two consultants (one national and one international), whose objective it was to identify traditional  and improved water harvesting practices in Mali and elsewehere.

The water harvesting techniques identified by the consultants are among others: rainwater harvesting from the roofs, sand dams, planting basins or zai and micro-basins.

Devices to capture rainwater from the roofs were constructed in Birtianga (Timbuktu) and Zalablabé (Gao). The construction of a device in Kidal (replaced by Nara) is going on.

The last year of the three-year-plan focusses on further evaluation of rainwater harvesting basins of local actors and the dissemination of results.

The expected results of this project are:

The devices to capture running off rainwater in Birtianga, Zalablabé and Nara are evaluated and analysed.

Techniques to construct and use (hygiene and sustainable management) the devices to capture rainwater running off from roofs are mastered by local actors.

The impacts of the techniques are shared at the workshop in October 2009.

Use of the project results:

The evaluation data will be guidelines for a good continuation of the project. The technical skills of the NGO members of the DCG and the local partners will be used as a means to assure the replication of the project.

The good performance at the consultation workshop is a means that permits the members of the DCG and other actors to gain experience in rainwater harvesting.