Domestic rainwater harvesting to improve water supply in rural South Africa
Physics and Chemistry of the Earth , 32 , 2007

Kahinda, J.M.M, Taigbenu, A.E., Boroto, J.R.

Halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, is one of the targets of the 7th Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In South Africa, with its mix of developed and developing regions, 9.7 million (20%) of the people do not have access to adequate water supply and 16 million (33%) lack proper sanitation services. Domestic Rainwater Harvesting (DRWH), which provides water directly to households enables a number of small-scale productive activities, has the potential to supply water even in rural and peri-urban areas that conventional technologies cannot supply. As part of the effort to achieve the MDGs, the South African government has committed itself to provide financial assistance to poor households for the capital cost of rainwater storage tanks and related works in the rural areas. Despite this financial assistance, the legal status of DRWH remains unclear and DRWH is in fact illegal by strict application of the water legislations. Beyond the cost of installation, maintenance and proper use of the DRWH system to ensure its sustainability, there is risk of waterborne diseases. This paper explores challenges to sustainable implementation of DRWH and proposes some interventions which the South African government could implement to overcome them.