Just after the first of the year, Getrude Elly Kikoti and her husband Mwita Mtengela learned they and their children, Meckson, Gideon and Richard, would be the first in the Ukwega Ward of Tanzania to receive a household rainwater harvesting system. This opportunity was made possible by a benefactor more than 8,000 miles away from the remote village of Makungu, where all five family members were born and raised. The family has since become enthusiastic innovators for Global Volunteers’ Reaching Children’s Potential Program (RCP) by demonstrating the use and efficacy of the new system to other families participating in the program, and promoting the importance of supplying hundreds more systems throughout the Ward.
The Ukwega Ward experiences extreme seasonal variations in monthly rainfall, meaning that families can endure a dry season each year of up to seven months. Then, during the rainy season, beginning usually in December, the skies can rain down a sufficient total accumulation for the population’s water needs. But this unevenness means that without a catchment system, much of this water is lost to runoff.
But by harvesting rainwater from their roof and storing it in a large tank outside the house, families can have a constant supply of clean drinking water and irrigation for household gardens all year round.
Before the water harvesting system was installed in Getrude’s home this year, she walked an hour to and from a river valley to provide water for her family. “I used to wake up early in the morning by 5:00 to fill three buckets to accommodate us for the next two days of cooking and washing dishes,” Getrude explained. “For the case of washing clothes, I used to go to the valley with the load of clothes, wash them there and bring back the clothes clean.”
The donor’s purchase of the rainwater harvesting system through Global Volunteers’ online gift catalog enabled Tanzania staff to purchase needed materials – roof water collection gutters and pipes and a 5,000-liter tank installed alongside the family’s home. The system provides enough water for safe drinking, general hygiene, clothes and hand washing, and household cooking and washing. “I used to spend a lot of time to get water rather than doing other essential activities in a day,” Getrude said, adding “and often it had mud in it, especially during the rainy season. Even though, my children spent time fetching water sometimes after school or during weekends. Now they get enough time for studying and recreation and get the water right in our yard.
Getrude shares water with neighbors when the tank is full and her husband installed a locking system to protect the spigot from children and animals. She says the availability of water will enable her to plant a garden and raise pigs, and greatly improve her family’s health and nutrition.
Global Volunteers’ long-term plan is for every RCP family to obtain a rainwater harvesting system. Each catchment system, adequate for a family of seven, can be used for decades and includes a 5,000-liter poly tank and all the necessary gutters, screens, filters, and spouts for assembly. Contributions through the online gift catalog and general RCP program donations help provide the systems and are fully tax-deductible.