Rainwater Harvesting Helps Families in Rajasthan, India

Safe Water Network supported an innovative project in the Churu district of Rajasthan, India, to harvest rain water from roof tops in water tanks (called kunds in Hindi) for more than 1000 families in 55 villages during the period 2008-2010.

The majority of these families were very poor. Bhoruka Charitable Trust (BCT), a local NGO, oversaw the day-to-day activities in conjunction with our staff based in New Delhi.

The Institute of Health Management Research (IHMR) provided research and water quality assessments during the project and the Center for microFinance (CmF) provided technical support and framed the pilot program to provide micro loans to families so that they could install a household cistern.

Safe Water Network provided the technical and financial support for the project.

The western part of the Rajasthan State in India is part of the ‘Thar Desert.’ The area receives about 300 mm rainfall annually, but the ground water is brackish. Many of the families living in the Churu district lacked affordable access to safe water.

Although there was a tradition of people here using rainwater for drinking purpose, most families did not have a household cistern.  Women and children were walking more than a kilometer in difficult conditions to fetch the daily water needs of the family.

The project involved an improved design of a household cistern that would capture sufficient water during the monsoon season, providing a family fresh water until the next season.

The program included a microfinance component for families to borrow the money to afford the cistern.

Safe Water Network developed a training program that BCT used to teach basic health and hygiene practices to keep the cistern water safe in storage. Close to 500 masons were also trained on the installation and ongoing maintenance of these cisterns.