Benefits Of Rainwater Harvesting For Enhancing Food Self-Sufficiency To Overcome Rural Poverty

September 9th, 2021

Bhutan has an abundance of water yet the prevalence of water shortage is ubiquitous. Rapid economic growth and drying up of water sources due to climate variability and change have made water supply inadequate and inaccessible. The Nyasikhar village under Chimoong gewog, Pemagatshel is among many others that have been facing water shortage for the last few years. Despite the challenges, the community daily traveled few hours to spring water to fetch potable water as well for irrigating the small-scale garden and feeding domestic livestock. To address the water scarcity, several viable alternative water sources have been initiated in the programme areas, which include rainwater harvesting, springwater tapping and promotion of the water use efficient technology. Among these, the adoption of household-level rainwater harvesting technology was considered as a viable solution for Nyasikhar owing to the temporal and spatial variability of rainfall.

In FY2020-2021, a total of 5 rainwater harvesting tanks with a capacity of 3000 litres were constructed each for 5 households, with fund support from CARLEP-IFAD and technical assistance from the Dzongkhag agriculture sector. The construction of the rainwater harvesting tank was implemented based on a cost-sharing modality where the Project provided material supports like cement, gutter, fitting accessories, and CGI sheet, while beneficiaries contributed sand, gravel, stone and labor for the construction.

With the installation of the rainwater harvesting tanks, there has been adequate water for domestic use. Moreover, the technology has encouraged higher crop production by bridging rainfall variations and dry periods during the monsoon and helped earned higher revenues from vegetable cultivation. In addition, the availability of water near the house has enabled farmers to make effective use of time saved for productive activities to increase household food security and availability, especially during the dry season. Nonetheless, the technology has enabled communities to build resilience to climate change and climatic variability thereby enhancing food self-sufficiency to overcome rural poverty.

According to Tumki Lhamo, 32, her family’s livelihoods have changed since the effective use of heavy rainfall events. Until recently, Tumki and her family had to travel hours to fetch water for household uses. But now, Tumki rests assured as she need not fret about carrying water from the distant water sources. Like many others in the community, Tumki also feels harvesting rainwater has enabled her to make productive use of rainwater and manage her own water supply for drinking water, domestic use, and income-generating activities. Moreover, she is contented that the technology has provided access to adequate water without walking and eased the burden of carrying water, particularly for women and children.

In the meanwhile, beneficiaries are cautious of contamination of water collected in the storage tank and are manually disposing of the first flush water from getting into the tank inlet for potable uses.

Article by: Chhimi Lhamo, GKMO and Karma Chophel, EA Chimong, Pemagatshel

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