CED has a partnership with the Episcopal Church in Rwanda. Back in 2005 the Church approached us with a request that we help them to develop rainwater harvesting solutions in their settlements of child headed families. These had grown from the work of Rev Rutandama who was himself a genocide survivor and had by then organised orphaned children into “family” units in small purpose built houses. Children were spending 2 or 3 hours daily spent collecting water from a well 4km away, time that could be more usefully spent cultivating fields or doing home-work. Past attempts at drilling boreholes had been unsuccessful, meaning the best option was a good rainwater catchment system. Rainfall in the area is around 900mm per year. As well as having water for their own use, it was envisaged the children could sell some surplus, thereby becoming better integrated into the community. In 2006 CED ran a workshop to train a group of young people to build tanks of 1000 litres, the concept being that this technology would itself be transferable to the local population. This was funded by Signpost International with support from CED.
The idea was to provide small, personal tanks that could be easily replicated. Unreinforced cement tanks have been made in Thailand since the 1970s in sizes up to 1800 litres (Rainwater Harvesting, Pacey and Cullis, ITDG, 1986, p.108).
A mould is formed by sewing together gunny sacks and filling with sawdust. This is then plastered with cement mortar and the sacks removed.
We decided to include a tap to make drawing water easier and reinforced this area with chicken wire.
The cement tank generated interest as it was perceived to be more robust that modern plastic tanks as well as being slightly less expensive. A big benefit is that a cement tank is much harder to steal! We found we used rather more cement than expected but the tanks were still seen as a good solution.
Since the workshop, some of the participants have experimented with the tanks in other parts of Rwanda, notably RHEPI who have built tanks in the north of the country.
Simple instruction sheet for water jar: cement water jar
CED has also worked in Rwanda with RHEPI building school classrooms, with the Episcopal Church providing support for their water programme and advised other agencies including Scripture Union.