Rainwater Harvesting and Water Resources Management: an Integrated Systems Approach
This report was prepared for WRC (WRC project K5/15.63)
Our aim here is to develop a methodological approach that attempts to identify various aspects of rural setup which need to be approached in order to gather information that is relevant to RWH. There remains the need to understand the context in which the RWH could be applied. The following questions need to be asked of such an endeavour:
- How would RWH fit in with both the homesteads and the broader water resource management systems that currently function?
- To what degree is RWH able to contribute positively to the livelihoods and conditions of the rural people who we are targeting as potential recipients?
see Techniques of Rainwater Harvesting
AWARD’s Conceptual Tools
Our methodological approach towards gathering and analyzing information regarding RWH consists of Sustainable Livelihoods (SL) approach, the Resources Demand and Access (RIDA) framework, and the Multiple Use Systems approach. These are used in conjunction to one another in order to cover different aspects of RWH research. The conceptual tools are integrated in order to draw analysis from the research process.
Sustainable Livelihoods (SL) and Water supply
Using the SL approach one would attempt to explore how people in different contexts use their access to the natural, economic and financial means as a source of survival. The aim is to identify how other activities which take place in conjunction with the use of water and how this affects or is affected by the access to water. SL attempts to understand the following:
- Firstly the variable financial and fixed assets which people own need to be thoroughly researched.
- Simultaneously, the scarcity or inaccessibility of these assets will need to be assessed within the broader social and environmental landscape.
- Using SL, we will also need to understand the knowledge, skills and capacities involved in maintaining a livelihood in the population under question.
The above factors are likely to overlap. For example the assets one has may be used for a business, which requires certain skills and may allow expanded access to other to scarce goods and services. None the less, these overlapping factors must be traced and analyzed during the research process.
With sound knowledge in of the livelihood strategies one could attempt to predict how RWH may contribute the improvement of the domestic and/or income generative functions of the households under question.
The Resources, Infrastructure, Demand and Access (RIDA) Framework
The RIDA framework is used in an attempt to observe the linkages between demand and access to water and the infrastructure that is required to harness the use of this resource.
Resources: Water resources are accessed according to quantity and quality, temporal variability and their location. The assessment of water resources can also take account of water policy and the institutions that have responsibility for managing and regulating the use of water resources.
For RWH one would need to measure the pattern and quantities of rainfall in a given region to gain relevant information.
Infrastructure: Water infrastructure consists of those physical man made constructions used to abstract, treat, convey and deliver the resource to the end users. It includes those methods used to collect, transport, treat and dispose of wastewater.
Here an assessment of the how varying technologies and the required management of these comes about, the labour and material required to build it and make it sustainable. Where these measures are not in place it is possible to access why and what measures could take place to retain a more sustainable water infrastructure. RWH may or may not be a viable option according to the above measurements.
Demand and Access: Demands reflect the different needs for water, and may include domestic needs, small-scale productive needs, irrigation, industrial or other uses. There will almost certainly be a variety of demands of water in a given constituency.
Access refers to whether people's demands are met by the water sector. Further the water accessed by one individual in a given group will be impacted upon by the access achieved by the other users. In many rural (and urban) settings there will exist a situation where power and wealth will cause inequitable distribution of water resources, and infrastructure. This means that access to water is a political issue. Equitable distribution and access should be considered to be a primary objective in this regard.
The Multiple Uses Approach (MU)
This approach understands that in some cases a variety of water sources allow for multiple livelihood activities to take place. There is an emphasis on the importance of taking people's uses of water as a starting point for providing water services.
MU requires the participation of local communities in the process of identifying their water needs. The consideration of the different Water sources and technologies available to exploit them, should then take place in consultation with the community.
Multiple use approach thus requires:
Assessing the range of water needs in collaboration with end users;
Examining the water sources available- from RWH to waste water to piped systems;
Matching water supplies to needs based on the quantity, quality and reliability required for various purposes;
Establishing the linkages between the various institutions ranging across community, ward, regional, provincial and national levels.
With these activities taking place in consultation with the recipients the aim is to generate ideas as to which interventions would benefit them.