Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rain harvesting the only way out for Kenya

An opinion piece by Mike Fairhead, via the Daily Nation (Kenya): …Many Kenyans living in Central and Western provinces may not realise that their annual rainfall is, in fact, pretty much the same as the wettest parts of the UK or Ireland, areas of the world with no water shortfall. The difference is that there, it rains on many days a year whereas in Kenya the rain comes in two great dollops each year, and most just runs into the ground or down the rivers and into the ocean.

It seems obvious - in Kenya we need to harvest the rainfall and use the water when it is not raining. That means, of course, rectifying the problem of deforestation of the water catchments. It is an intractable problem which only has either a draconian or a very long-term solution because you have to forcibly remove up to a million people who were given the land by previous governments, and plant a billion trees which take at least 20 years to grow.

…The colonial British created building regulations to stop people in Nairobi collecting their rainwater from roofs. The reason was that Nairobi (then a swampy area) suffered badly from mosquitoes and Nairobi eye beetles, which bred in the water tanks, and loved feeding on the rotting leaves in the tanks.

The city had a population of only 200,000 and the civic water supply was more than adequate for the city's needs, so solutions to the insect problem did not need to be found - a good solution was to eliminate the water tanks. Now the city has a population of three million, perhaps more. The civic water supply is still the same - more than enough for 200,000 people, but woefully inadequate for three million….

The roofs of Nairobi as a reservoir, shot by Mkimemia at en.wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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