What’s the status and potential of rainwater harvesting in Mali?

Conventional, non-rainwater harvesting technologies as used in mainstream interventions are often not feasible or viable. This makes people in the water-stressed, remote and marginalized areas (that cover the majority of Mali’s territory) depend upon alternative and innovative solutions. This dependency gives way to a high potential for rainwater harvesting in Mail, particularly given the relatively high rainfall in many places (between 500 and 1300 mm) and relatively short rainfall period.

The Malian government has adopted a national IWRM Action Plan in 2008 but did not specifically mention rainwater harvesting in its policy documents. In 2012, however, a new initiative has been foreseen, as the government defined a programme on rainwater harvesting for the period 2012- 2016.

Rainwater harvesting has been a traditional practice in some parts of the country. In the Dogon valley, for example, people traditionally catch the water in rocks to store it for later use. However, despite the potential, the need and the local appropriateness, improved rainwater harvesting has not been high on the development agenda. In spite of some small and local initiatives over the years, rainwater harvesting has not been widely practiced nor promoted.

What’s an example of an initiative that has taken place?

RAIN has been actively supporting projects on rainwater harvesting for drinking water, ever since 2006. Also, since 2010, the organisation has put much effort in the development of a Rain water Harvesting Capacity Centre (RHCC) in Mali. The objective of creating and reinforcing such a centre is to advocate for the great potential of rainwater harvesting in Mali. The RHCC thus lobbies for rainwater harvesting at different institutional levels, but also aims to be the centre of reference for all that has to do with rainwater harvesting. As such, it gathers documentation, spreads information, shares experiences with new rainwater harvesting techniques and tests new approaches.

Since 2012, RAIN, the RHCC and their field partners are shifting the project implementation focus. They move from ‘water harvesting on a household level for drinking water only’ to a more integrated approach. Currently, two sub-catchments (one in Koulikoro, one in Sikasso) have been selected in which RAIN with its partners will intervene. They will provide multiple-use water service and address drinking water needs as well as water needs related to hygiene, domestic use, gardening, agriculture and nature regeneration. Special focus will be on the 3R possibilities (the Retention, Recharge and Reuse of water) from a landscape perspective. The two sub-catchments will demonstrate the high potential and relatively low cost of integrated water harvesting measures.

Learn more: contact RAIN at info@rainfoundation.org.

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