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Rainwater Harvesting in Rural Kenya: Reliability in a Variable and Changing Climate
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology (INK).
2010 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

In many parts of the tropics irregular and erratic rainfall has great national economic as well as socio-economic effects. In Kenya, where a large part of the population live in rural areas and rainfed agriculture is the main livelihood, droughts and floods have farreaching impacts on communities. One form of mitigating the negative effects of drought is the implementation of simple, small-scale, low cost schemes called rainwater harvesting. This involves the capture, storing and redirection of rainfall, runoff, and groundwater. In Kenya, such schemes are being implemented in rural areas through different actors. Two Non-Governmental Organizations involved are the Kenya Rainwater Association and the German Agro Action that work in Tseikuru, a semi-arid area with water availability and sanitation issues. The main livelihood is agropastorialism and there is little experience with rainwater harvesting. Commonly, water is collected by digging shallow holes into dry river beds where groundwater tables are high. These areas are prone to contamination and could be situated many kilometres away, making water collection laborious. By implementing rainwater harvesting schemes water availability as well as water quality is expected to be improved. However, due to great rainfall variability and effects of climate change these schemes may fall short of their expectations. Also the potential change on water demand may affect communities’ response to prolonged dry spells. This study aims to examine whether the implemented rainwater harvesting schemes in rural Tseikuru are reliable in times of adverse rainfall and if increased water availability (and potentially also increased water demand) affects the communities’ vulnerability towards droughts. The study is based on interviews with local stakeholders and technicians during a Minor Field Study in Tseikuru, as well as statistical analysis on rainfall data over the area and literature studies. Results showed that rainwater harvesting schemes are generally successful in supplying readily available and safe water. However the rural population of Tseikuru have not completely abandoned their old habits of collecting water from dry riverbeds, choosing instead to treat the schemes as an alternative source to water, thereby avoiding dependency towards the schemes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Rainwater Harvesting, Rural, Climate, Variability, Reliability
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-43156OAI: diva2:354235
Life Earth Science
Available from: 2010-10-01 Created: 2010-09-30 Last updated: 2010-10-01Bibliographically approved

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