22, 03, 2014
Water, sanitation and Hygiene
These are highly fundamental issues that should be considered when providing community based services. For instance, water is a basic need for human survival but not all the water is safe for consumption. The sanitation systems within the community determine a great deal on the safety of the available water for consumption. Water, sanitation and hygiene complement each other and none can exist independent of the other. The importance of water cannot be overestimated and its use immeasurable. Despite the high demand for the resource for sustenance of life, there is always a greater challenge to the availability of water, especially to the poor communities (WHO & UNICEF, 2004). It is estimated that over a fifth of the world’s population do not have access to adequate water. There are numerous problems affecting the world with regard to the availability of water but for every challenge, there is a solution. This paper presents installation of rainwater harvesting system as one of the best strategies to overcoming the challenges of water availability. In addition to the challenge of water availability, it is imperative to establish systems that will ensure that the available is safe for consumption. In other words, it is imperative to ensure water quality is determined to ascertain whether or not the water is safe (ADB, 2006).
In this project, emphasis shall be on the Gorkha district in Nepal. There are numerous challenges residents of this area face as far as water, sanitation and hygiene are concerned. As outlined in the project brief, the most common challenge facing this region is the lack of a sustainable water harvesting system. The area experiences both rainy and dry seasons. Therefore, there is a need to maximize on water harvesting during the rainy seasons to compensate for the dry season. There is also a high tendency of the natural water sources drying up during the dry season (Pyakural, 1994). This paper shall provide alternative rainwater harvesting systems to supplement the manual first flush devices used. It shall also provide a mechanism through which water quality can be measured and ensured cost-effectively.
Rainwater harvesting systems
- There are numerous advantages that come with the adoption of rainwater harvesting systems. For instance, some of the benefits include the following:
- It smoothens out the fluctuations in the availability of water. Through the harvesting of rainwater during the rainy season and storing it in the water reservoirs helps a great deal in supplementing the available water sources. This is more reliable as it lessens the pressure on the available water sources.
- It ensures water is collected within the home and therefore save people the energy of walking longer distance looking for water elsewhere
- Most of the ground water is usually polluted or contaminated hence not safe for drinking. Rainwater is of better quality and can be used for drinking without any health implications on people.
- It is also possible to apply low cost and economical water storage technology like the use of the low cost
There are various ways through which rainwater can be harvesting for different uses. The figure below shows the various ways through which rainwater can be harvested and the types of use for the same.
Rock catchment systems
Given that Nepal has a rugged landscape in most parts; it will be possible to harvest water from rocks. This does not necessarily mean that this water is to be used for conception purposes but can be used for other purposes. Only roof water should be used for consumption; all the other sources should be used for other purposes. However, rock water can be domestically used for other chores but not drinking because its quality cannot be ascertained. In this case, plastic sheeting can be applied or the use of concrete surfaces to facilitate harvesting of the rock water directed into a reservoir from where it will be used for various purposes (Hartung, 2002).
Technologies to be employed in the harvesting of water
- A water harvesting system usually has three main systems namely
- The catchment surfaces; it includes the roof, rock, and other surfaces
- Delivery system; consists of a network of gutters and downpipe to deliver the water into the reservoir pipe.
- The reservoir; it is the storage system for water.
Automatic first flush devices
This arrangement allows for the first flush to be carried without the intervention of the human beings. However, there is a need for routine maintenance through the removal of the debris, leaves, silt, and other deposits that need to be removed (Pacey & Cullis, 1996).
- Removable- End device
Using such an arrangement, the runoff as well as the debris will fall into the downpipe of the rainwater harvesting system; all the unwanted material is removed or filtered out as the water is allowed to flow into the storage tank. To save on the cost and ensure maximum utilization of the local and inexpensive materials, the downpipe shall be made of bamboo, which has been fitted with a removable plug at the end. The size of the downpipe shall mainly be dependent on the quantity of the debris to be filtered out prior to allowing water to flow into the storage tank. In this case, the plug at the end of the pile shall be a wooden or rubber plug, which should be removed periodically for the sake of cleaning and refitting after every rain.
- Debris collection in the Ground collector
In the case where the rainwater in the catchment system traps larger quantities of the foreign materials, including the leaves, branches, and other debris that fall on the roofs, the system has been designed in such a way that the downpipe can be extended on the end with the removable end to an air-tight debris collector, which in this case shall be made of the baked clay bricks or any other material as deemed necessary located on the ground. There is a need to provide for an opening of an appropriate size to help in removing the collected debris and inclusion of a stopper to act as a seal for the opening within the collector after routine cleaning has been done (Mogensen, 2000).
- Pivot and weight
Below the downpipe, a semi-circular length of a pipe shall be supported shall be balanced either on the wall or balanced on a pole planted within the ground. The gutter pipe is positioned in a slanting manner towards the empty container hung with the aid of a string whereas the opposite side has a weight to keep the end inclined to face the ground. When it is rains, all the foreign materials will be flushed from the end pointed towards the ground whereas a tube a tube at the other end will directly the water into the bucket hence flipping that end into the water storage reservoir (Mogensen, 2000).
- The balance system
The system described above can also be refined and modified to make it work like a balance. When the rainwater from the first flush fills the float chamber, the balance causes the flips to collect the rainwater coming from the gutters into the reservoir or collection containers as deemed necessary. However, it is imperative to note that achieving balance is very critical to the functioning of this system hence it should be arranged in such a way as to ensure there is minimum generation of sound from the flipping action of the flips and also ensure the overall durability of the entire system
Materials to be used
- Iron sheets
- Encouraging the use of palm thatching to replace what is currently used in thatching roofs
- Using timber or bamboo as water gutters and drainpipes
This is a fundamental issue that needs to be addressed in Nepal. In the context of Gorkha, water is a challenge and likewise to sanitation and hygiene. Using advanced technology for ensuring water quality in the region will come with higher cost implications, which may not be affordable by most of the residents in the region. It is also true that some of the water from the natural springs is contaminated with chloroform.
The best approach should be sensitizing people on the available sources of water and advice them regarding their use. For instance, those sources whose water is deemed to be contaminated should only be used for other purposes except for drinking. Alternatively, installation of the reservoir in various villages where all the water is centrally treated using simple means like the use of water treatment chemicals to improve the quality of water. However, this will depend on the size of the population and the demand for water (Pyakural, 1994).
It is imperative that for this project, the whole community is involved, starting from the training where the heads of households shall be trained on better water harvesting systems. This shall be done through demonstrations done in various homesteads to equip the community with the necessary skills to be able to handle the task on their own. Thorough training shall be done on a few selected individuals regarding the installation of water harvesting systems and good practices for ensuring water quality. This team will then be used to train others. By so doing, it will be easier and faster to spread this technology in the entire region and sensitize people on the available alternative for supplementing their water sources.
Preliminary meeting shall start with the local leaders, who shall help in organizing various forums with the community and in the selection of the individuals to be trained. The aim is to ensure that everyone gets the skills and is aware of the available opportunities and the risks involved in the utilization of water from various sources. This project shall be extended to schools where the whole community shall be required to participate. In fact, the entire demonstration project shall be done in schools within the region as a way of uniting all the people behind the idea (Mogensen, 2000).
ADB (2006). Asia Water Watch 2015- Are countries in Asia on track to meet Target ten of the MDG?
Hartung, H. (2002) The Rainwater Harvesting CD. Margraf Publishers, German
Mogensen, U. (2000). Sourcebook of Alternative Technologies for Freshwater Augmentation in Small Island Developing States. UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMME Retrieved 0n 31 March 2014 from www.unep.or.jp/ietc/publications/techpublications/techpub-8e/rainwater2.asp
Pacey, A. & Cullis, A. (1996). Rainwater Harvesting, London: ITDG, London
Pyakural, D.C., (1994). Water Quality Surveillance and Monitoring in Nepal – Practices and Development Program.
WHO and UNICEF, (2004). Meeting the MDG drinking water and sanitation target: A midterm assessment of progress. UN, New York.