Lentis/Manual Water Collection in Developing Countries

From Wikibooks, open books for an open world
Jump to navigation Jump to search

As one of the UN's seventeen goals for sustainable development, sufficient access to clean water remains an obstacle in multiple developing countries. To provide a comprehensive overview of manual water collection technologies and social factors, Kenya, India, and Yemen were studied. The scope of each country's governance structure and implementation of technological tools are analyzed to survey the interplay of politics and industrialization.

Kenya[edit | edit source]

Background[edit | edit source]

In Marsabit, Kenya, there are no permanent rivers and the dry season often eliminates water sources, leaving residents to travel hours to collect water[1]. Water demands take two forms in Marsabit: domestic use and livestock use. Marginalized groups, typically women, travel long distances to boreholes, trying to ensure household water security for domestic use[2]. Nearly 75% of land in Marsabit is used for livestock, creating a massive water demand. Livestock herders, typically men, travel long distances with their animals to the water sources[3].

Governance[edit | edit source]

Water Management Committees (WMC), led by traditional leaders or elected officials, collaborate amongst ethnic groups to manage water resources with the stated goal of prolonging water resources through the dry season and managing conflict. Although women are the primary water collectors in Marsabit, WMCs are led almost entirely by males; if women are included in the WMC, cultural norms prevent women from speaking in front of men, thus hindering their first hand experience from influencing water management[3]. The result is a biased governing body that fails to consider women collectors in governance and conflict management.

Because these two user groups have very different agendas and realms of influence, conflict is commonplace at water sources. WMCs offer priority to male livestock herders by refilling livestock sources more frequently, leaving the female domestic users to wait at the water source for hours before finally reaching the front of the line[3]. Extended wait times at water sources have been known to hinder women’s economic activity, preventing women from accomplishing other tasks[4]. Without an effective voice in the WMCs, women’s challenges with manual water collection are going unnoticed, leading to conflict at the water source and within the home, as husbands and children don’t understand the effects of water collection on women’s everyday lives. When conflict occurs at the water source, both the quality and quantity of water collected is negatively impacted. Governing bodies, such as WMCs, are not providing the appropriate space for women to engage in decision making about water sources[3].

Technology[edit | edit source]

As the government continues to mismanage the water, the role of technology will be helpful in mitigating water challenges in Marsabit. Rock catchments are being installed in Marsabit county to harness, filter, and store rainwater. This technological innovation creates permanent water sources that are convenient to users and protect the water from contamination. With additional water supply at shorter distances thanks to these rock catchments, water conflict should decrease[1].

India[edit | edit source]

Background[edit | edit source]

In India, manual water collection consists mostly of rainwater harvesting. The country has a long history of collecting rainwater for domestic use and irrigation, tracing back to the 3rd century B.C [5]. Such tradition was born out of necessity. The country is the home to 18% of the world’s population; however, the people share only "4[%] of the global water resources". Therefore, India frequently experiences water shortages, especially in the summer [6]. As a result, there were frequent water shortages, prompting many households to manually harvest rainwater.

Governance[edit | edit source]

Based on demographic research, most families that participate in manual water collection are joint or three-generation ones. They consist of many family members, and typically have a long history of water collection. To them, rainwater harvesting not only provides fresh and pure water but also preserves a tradition. In comparison, they are over 4 times more likely to collect rainwater than nuclear families (e.g., those consisting of only parents and their children)[7]. Also, a significant portion – around 37% – of the participating families live in rural areas.

Notably, in India, no authority group governs water collection. Instead, manual water collections mostly happen at the individual household level. This is drastically different from most other countries, where there exists some kind of governance in collecting and distributing water. A potential reason for this phenomenon is that India obtains water from a very different source. Unlike many other countries, Indian people mostly collect rain water. By its nature, it is easy to acquire, and very equally distributed at the village level. Thus, a central governance/planning authority is not a necessity in India's case.

Technology[edit | edit source]

India's manual water collection technology is simple compared to other countries and regions, involving minimal technology. The commonly-used technique redirects water into the household's container, and it involves three steps. Many residents collect water and use a building’s rooftop as a catchment area. When the rain starts, the sloped rooftop channel the rainwater into pipes, leading to a storage tank. The household then stores the water tank. In case of a water emergency, the captured water can be used for household use or recharging groundwater.[8] Significant work has been done to maximize the amount of harvested rainwater. For example, residents and activist groups have noted that the volume of water received is the product of the amount of rainfall and the catchment area. Thus, they have sought to use residential buildings, schools, and offices as catchment areas. Because those buildings are typically larger, they provide a greater catchment area, allowing more water to be harvested.[9]

Yemen[edit | edit source]

Background[edit | edit source]

Amidst geopolitical and humanitarian crisis, Yemen has faced water shortages for the past fifty years[10]. Lacking perennial rivers, Yemen relies on seasonal floods to sustain its agriculture and irrigation [11]. Highland dwellers source water from springs[11]. In rural sectors, roughly 25% of citizens have direct water access[12] . Reliance on child labor is prevalent. Young girls and women spend a notable portion of each day collecting water[12]. Though women are the prevailing participants in manual water collection, their voices are limited in role decision[13].

Governance[edit | edit source]

On the family level, parents dictate the responsibility of water collection. Daughters residing in homes without direct water access are three times more likely to contribute to household chores, namely fetching water, compared to those who live in homes with direct access[12]. Girls must travel considerable lengths by foot to amass minimal amounts of water, which is rarely sanitized[14]. Lack of formal governmental policies combined with high poverty rates have led to national water shortages[15]. The dependence on rain necessitates quick assembly of individuals to divert and collect flood water, particularly in agrarian communities [11]. The underlying communal politics that determine water collection and distribution are based upon Islamic precepts[11]. An emerging challenge lies in "generational changes", for ancient customs and tribal norms on water management are disregarded[16].

Technology[edit | edit source]

To manipulate flood flow, the Yemeni people construct blockades throughout the natural wadis to reroute and collect water cascades [11]. Working with the natural terrain, farmers rely on gravity and irrigate upper plots first, while cooperating with family members or hired laborers to collect and distribute the water to their land[11]. Groundwater is also procured by farmers using diesel and electric-based pumps[17]. The proliferation of such pumps has led to compromised spacing and "buffer" zones between wells[16]. In response to water scarcity, illegal aquifer drilling has increased throughout the country[15].

Both cisterns and man-made basins are used to store spring water. To utilize the collected water, an individual will unblock the cistern (usually made of mud or stone) exit and allow the water to flow through existing channels, whilst barricading paths and removing blocks, to guide the flow to its destination[11]. In mountainous regions, stone dams are built to retain and release water[18]. As dry seasons come around, women and children travel by foot to fetch water from the closest wadis[19]. In some villages, fountains or water holes serve as the collection source[13]. In rural areas, women use buckets to fetch water after walking for multiple hours[13].

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

This case study examined three countries in distinctly differing geographical regions, identifying the tools that people have deemed best-suited for the unique challenges they face daily. In Kenya, technology has brought water closer to residents, allowing women to hold roles outside of water collection; in India, high-sosh approaches have helped bring water to people at their home, eliminating travel time or costs from water collection; in Yemen, there is a utilization of ancient solutions, as well as modern technology that is leading to growing environmental concerns. Holistically, this case study has revealed a need to customize solutions to bring water closer to residents based on the unique circumstances experience by the people intended to use the technology – a one-size-fits-all approach will only leave people continuing to encounter the same challenges.

  1. a b Schweiz, C. (2017, October 5). Harvesting rainwater with rock catchments in Kenya. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl_afnV1E1A
  2. Bukachi, S. A., Omia, D. O., Musyoka, M. M., Wambua, F. M., Peter, M. N., & Korzenevica, M. (2021). Exploring water access in rural Kenya: Narratives of Social Capital, gender inequalities and household water security in Kitui County. Water International, 46(5), 677–696. Web of Science. https://www-webofscience-com.proxy01.its.virginia.edu/wos/woscc/full-record/WOS:000675272400001
  3. a b c d Yerian, S., Hennink, M., Greene, L. E., Kiptugen, D., Buri, J., & Freeman, M. C. (2014). The role of women in water management and conflict resolution in Marsabit, Kenya. Environmental Management, 54(6), 1320–1330. Web of Science. https://www-webofscience-com.proxy01.its.virginia.edu/wos/woscc/full-record/WOS:000345099900006
  4. Hallett, V. (2016, July 7). Millions of women take a long walk with a 40-pound water can. NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/07/07/484793736/millions-of-women-take-a-long-walk-with-a-40-pound-water-can
  5. Loughborough University (2005, Dec). Rainwater harvesting in South Asia. https://www.lboro.ac.uk/research/wedc/well/water-supply/ws-factsheets/rainwater-harvesting-se-asia/
  6. World Bank. (2022, March 4). World Water Day 2022: How India is addressing its water needs. https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/india/brief/world-water-day-2022-how-india-is-addressing-its-water-needs
  7. Ramya, N. (2019). Household "rain water harvesting" - Who are practicing? Why are they practicing? A mixed methods study from rural area of Kolar district, South India. Journal of family medicine and primary care. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6691424/
  8. Circle of Blue. (2010, Jan. 4). India Cities Focus on Rainwater Harvesting to Provide Clean Drinking Water. https://www.circleofblue.org/2010/world/india-cities-focus-on-rainwater-harvesting-to-provide-clean-drinking-water/
  9. Save Indian Farmers. (n.d.). Rain Water Harvesting Systems for Combating Water Crisis. https://www.saveindianfarmers.org/rain-water-harvesting/
  10. Varisco, D. (2019, April 30). Pumping Yemen Dry: A History of Yemen’s Water Crisis. Hum Ecol 47, 317–329. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-019-0070-y
  11. a b c d e f g Varisco, D. (1983). Sayl and Ghayl: The Ecology of Water Allocation in Yemen. Human Ecology, 11(4), 365–383. JSTOR.
  12. a b c Guarcello, L. and Lyon, S. (2003, April). Children’s work and water access in Yemen. www.ucw-project.org/attachment/standard_yemen_water.pdf
  13. a b c Carapico, S. (1996). Gender and Status Inequalities in Yemen: Honour, Economics, and Politics. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.
  14. The World Bank. (2022, May 10). Yemen: Women at the Center of Water, Agriculture, and Family income.www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2022/05/10/yemen-women-at-the-center-of-water-agriculture-and-family-income
  15. a b Worth, R. (2009, Nov. 1). Thirsty Plant Dries Out Yemen. The New York Times. static1.squarespace.com/static/5eb18d627d53aa0e85b60c65/t/5edf9a17e47ec26bfada5367/1591712282473/3D_2009_Drought_in_Yemen_Qat_Profits_Leaving_Food_Water_Shortages_NYTimes_November_1_2009.pdf
  16. a b Weiss, M. (2015, Jan. 22) A perfect storm: the causes and consequences of severe water scarcity, institutional breakdown and conflict in Yemen. Water International, 40:2, 251-272. Taylor & Francis Online.
  17. Al-Asbahi, Q. (2005, June 20). Water Resources Information in Yemen. millenniumindicators.un.org/unsd/ENVIRONMENT/envpdf/pap_wasess3a3yemen.pdf
  18. Charbonnier, J. (2009). Dams in the western mountains of Yemen: a Ḥimyarite model of water management. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 39, 81–93. JSTOR.
  19. Noman, A. and Al-Jailani, J. (2007). Investigation of the potential of fogwater harvesting in the Western Mountainous parts of the Yemen. Arab Gulf Journal of Scientific Research, 25(1-2), 50-58. inis.iaea.org/search/search.aspx?orig_q=RN:39120025