Newsletter and Technical Publications
of Alternative Technologies for Freshwater Augumentation
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3.8 Open Sky Rainwater Harvesting
The open sky rainwater catchment is the least sophisticated form of
rainwater harvesting, requiring minimal levels of investment to install,
maintain and operate. For this reason, open sky rainwater harvesting is
usually practised by relatively poor people who cannot afford
appropriately-sized gutters or motkas in which to store water. In
Bangladesh, a number of variants on this technology have been observed,
ranging in cost and design from two corrugated iron sheets supported by
four bamboo posts and slanted in such a way as to collect and direct
rainwater into pots, motkas, etc. , to plastic sheeting, suspended on four
bamboo sticks, with an hole in the centre, weighted with a brick chip, to
direct rainwater into a pot placed below the hole, as shown in Figure 18.
When applied for agricultural use, the polyethylene sheeting may be placed
in the open and slanted so that rainwater collecting on the plastic flows
off the sheeting and downslope to the agricultural. Mosquito nets, bed
sheets or even sarees (women's garments), inverted umbrellas, and open
drums have been used as catchments to harvest rainwater, while fishermen
and mariners living offshore for a considerable periods have traditionally
harvested rainfall to replenish potable water supplies on their boats.
Figure 18. Open sky rainwater harvesting using of plastic
sheeting in Shamnagar.
Operation and Maintenance
This technology requires little maintenance, except that devoted to the
periodic cleaning of water storage pots, and few skills to operate.
Level of Involvement
This technology may be implemented at the household level.
Use of this technology can be had for a minimal investment in materials.
In its relatively sophisticated version, that constructed of corrugated
iron sheeting, typical costs would be between $5 and $9 for two corrugated
iron sheets. In its least expensive form, that constructed of plastic
sheeting, the cost would be about $0.50. Likewise, the cost of storing the
harvested rainwater depends on the type of storage vessel used. Typical
costs would range from about $0.25 to over $500: pitchers would cost about
$0.25 each; small earthen jars (motkas), $1.20; medium-sized earthen jars,
$5.00 ; large earthen jars, $10.00; cement underground storage tanks, $50
to $500; and, cement above ground storage tanks, $100 to $300 .
Effectiveness of the Technology
This technology is effective in meeting the short term water
requirements of people living in boats and of small families lacking
access to other water supplies.
This technology is limited to very small scale uses. Advantages This
technology is simple to use, requiring few skills and minimal materials.
Figure 19. Woman taking fresh water from a pond on Hatya
It may be difficult to securely anchor the rainwater catchment materials
during windy conditions or during storms, limiting the ability of the
technology to harvest rainwater. Because of the limited surface area of
the rainwater catchment, this technology does not provide a reliable
source of water, and its use is restricted to the wet season.
There are no known cultural problems associated with the use of this
Mohammed Aslam, Saleh Ahmed Chowdhury, Alamgeer Faridul Hoque,
and S.R. Sanwar, Intermediate Technology Group, House 32,
Road 13A, Dhanmondi, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Tel. 880 2 811 934, Fax: 880 2 813
134, E-mail: email@example.com.