Promoting rainwater harvesting

Through a new alliance, several publications and video UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre is working with Ugandan partners to promote crucial adaptation tools

September 7, 2022

Access to water is a human right, but as temperatures continue to rise due to the climate crisis, so does water scarcity.

Rooftop rainwater harvesting can play a key part of adaptation efforts to ensure safe and accessible water, and in Uganda UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre has worked with government and private sector to form the Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting Alliance.

As well as working closely with the alliance, UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre has also published a market brief highlighting the potential of rainwater harvesting, a list of frequently asked questions from implementers in Uganda and supported a special broadcast on Ugandan television presenting the advantages of collecting rainwater from rooftops.

Adaptation is crucial

The water sector is a sector calling for solutions. In 2020, around 1 in 4 people lacked safely managed drinking water in their homes and nearly half the world’s population lacked safely managed sanitation, according to UNICEF.

Climate change is already disrupting rainfall patterns, leading to unpredictable water availability, aggravated water scarcity and contaminated water supplies.

This not only effects drinking and sanitation water. Water scarcity worsened by climate change, leads to smaller harvests, famine and starvation.

To ensure water security, adaptation is crucial, both when it comes to water for drinking and sanitation and when it comes to food security.

The new Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting Alliance will work to achieve the potential of rainwater as an important resource that can be utilized, and can be a life-saving alternative, where large scale water infrastructure is impossible.

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
– SDG 6

Rainwater potential

The Ugandan government has set out an ambitious plan to provide safe and reliable access to water resources to all by 2030. However, as of now only 66% of Ugandan villages have access to clean water.

To assist Ugandan stakeholders UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre has conducted a study of the water sector outlining the potential of rainwater rooftop harvesting as well as the current use of the technology.

The study also shows potential demand and benefits in both households, public institutions and agriculture, and points to specific challenges and opportunities with corresponding proposed actions.

Download the Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting Market Brief here.

Answering rooftop harvesting questions

Even though the basic principle in collecting the rain that falls on a roof, there are many considerations when installing new technology.
To answer most questions from end-users, UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre has collected 21 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and answers on rooftop rainwater harvesting.

The compilation covers everything from what is rainwater rooftop harvesting and which types of roofs are suitable to finance options and how to avoid mosquitoes.

The FAQs were answered by engaging the Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting Alliance as well as members of parliament, water engineers, the plumbers’ association, real estate Developers, rainwater harvesting civil society organisations and networks, rainwater harvesting financial service providers, and equipment and advisory support suppliers.

Download the Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting FAQ here.

Televised advantages

Raising the profile of rooftop rainwater harvesting, UBC Television Uganda did a segment on the many advantages it brings, besides water security.

Talking to representatives of the alliance and the private sector, NGOs and government, the segment highlights the reduced costs and saved time on water collection, which often forces people to walk many kilometres to collect water.

UBC Television Uganda also talks to engineers explaining the different systems and options.

You can watch the video here:

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Prioritizing water and rainwater harvesting

UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre has been working with rooftop rainwater harvesting through the Technology, Markets and Investment for Low Carbon and Climate Resilient Development (TEMARIN) project.

The main objective of the TEMARIN water-sector component is to provide a focused push, through an analytical deep dive, to one specific technology prioritized in Uganda’s Technology Needs Assessments [link to TNA site]. Along with the TNA focal points of Uganda, the water sector was chosen, and rooftop rainwater harvesting was identified as the technology.

When it comes to adapting to the changes in the climate that already plagues many developing countries, agriculture and water is at the top of the list, prioritized by 86% and 82% of the countries doing Technology Needs Assessments.

Water storage and harvesting received top priority in the water sector, including rainwater collection from rooftops, storage hardware, and surface water catchments.

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