Rainwater harvesting in semi-arid Kenya : Practices and prospects
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Mang'era, Janet Nyanduko
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Subjectgovernance; institutional designs; natural resource management; rainwater harvesting; water security; water supply
The aim of this research was to investigate the practices that constrain or facilitate effective rainwater harvesting in semi-arid Kenya. At 647 cubic meters per capita water availability, Kenya is considered water scarce yet with an average rainfall of 500mm per annum the country has great potential to be water sufficient and address water insecurities in marginal lands, such as Makueni County, through effective management of rainwater. Using a case study of rainwater harvesting in Makueni County, Kenya, the research identified and described rainwater harvesting practices, successful and unsuccessful rainwater harvesting projects, barriers and shortcomings as well as avenues for improvement. The literature reveals several factors contributing to the failure to meet the potential for rainwater harvesting to promote water security in semi- arid Kenya including technological, policy, institutional and governance and financial, behavioral and attitudinal. The study found many deterrents to effective rainwater harvesting in Makueni County, including poor technical designs for rainwater capture and storage, inadequate investment, failure to apply water supply standards, perceptions about the non-potability of rainwater, and poor linkage and coordination of efforts at local through national levels of social organization. The research also identified some key factors responsible for successful rainwater harvesting projects which included: social capital, local knowledge and capacity, and establishment and enforcement of property rights. The study concluded that efforts to promote effective rainwater harvesting should therefore include building capacity of project groups at the local level, designing effective RWH policies and institutions and creating RWH coordination networks at local through national and international levels. The study recommended that, in order to scale up rainwater harvesting efforts there is a need for vertical and horizontal linkages across sectors and levels.
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