IWA Publishing has a new Open Access Ambassador Spotlight blog to share, just in time for the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought!

Our OA Ambassadors raise awareness in their local communities about global OA movements as well as related opportunities through IWA Publishing. They are representatives of both the International Water Association and IWA Publishing and our joint goals to empower the next generation of water leaders and to shape the future of the water sector. These blog posts highlight their specialty and research focus, as well as emphasising the importance of Open Access publishing. 

This week's blog is written by Abdurrahman Aliyu, an MSc student at the Pan-African University Institute for Water and Energy Sciences, whose research covers the recovery of resources from wastewater, rainwater harvesting, and nature-based solutions. Connect with Abdurrahman on LinkedIn.

Many thanks to Abdurrahman for his contribution!

Drought, a natural disaster intensified by climate change, affects millions of people worldwide. Its devastating consequences include food and water scarcity, loss of livelihoods, and community displacement. Unfortunately, the frequency and severity of droughts have been on the rise in recent years. While droughts have a significant impact on various aspects of society, they disproportionately affect women and girls, particularly in terms of access to clean water, health, productivity, and economic opportunities. However, amidst these challenges, rainwater harvesting has emerged as an effective solution that not only mitigates the effects of drought but also empowers women.

The Impact of Drought on Women

Women and girls are often burdened with the responsibility of collecting water, and the lack of access to clean water has dire consequences. It leads to health issues, decreased productivity, and limited economic opportunities. In some regions, fetching water can consume over an hour, robbing them of valuable time that could otherwise be spent on education or entrepreneurship. Recognizing the unique challenges faced by women, the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, celebrated on June 17th with the theme "Her land, Her rights," aims to raise awareness about the disproportionate impact of desertification, land degradation, and drought on women and girls.

The Practice of Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting, an age-old traditional practice, supports water conservation and provides various benefits. It involves collecting rainwater from rooftops and other surfaces and channeling it through gutters and pipes to storage tanks, usually located underground. This method minimizes algae growth and evaporation, making it particularly suitable for arid and semi-arid regions.

Rainwater harvesting serves as a simple yet powerful solution that can alleviate the effects of drought while empowering women. By collecting rainwater, communities can reduce their reliance on overexploited and depleted groundwater and surface water sources. Consequently, this relieves women and girls from the burden of water collection, leading to improved health and increased productivity.

To ensure the effective empowerment of women through rainwater harvesting, it is crucial to involve them in decision-making processes, education, and entrepreneurship. Their participation in the planning and implementation of rainwater harvesting systems must be prioritized, taking into account their unique needs and perspectives. Also, organizing education and training programs will equip women and girls with the necessary skills and knowledge to manage and maintain these systems.

Creating entrepreneurship opportunities related to rainwater harvesting further enhances women's empowerment. They can establish businesses centered around selling rainwater or utilizing it for irrigation, providing them with income-generating avenues. Such initiatives not only improve their economic status but also increase their involvement in decision-making processes.

Rainwater harvesting offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Simplicity: The technology is relatively simple to install and operate
  • Environmental Impact: It reduces stormwater runoff, flooding, soil erosion, and pollution of surface water
  • Water Source: It provides an excellent source of uncontaminated water for landscape irrigation
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Rainwater harvesting is a cost-friendly approach, reducing water bills and the need for imported water
  • Conservation: It decreases the demand for water, conserves both water and energy, and improves the quality and quantity of groundwater
  • Filtration System: It eliminates the need for a filtration system for landscape irrigation

Rainwater harvesting serves as a sustainable and effective solution for drought mitigation while empowering women. As we celebrate the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, it is vital to promote women's participation in decision-making processes related to land and water management. Creating education and entrepreneurship opportunities for women through rainwater harvesting ensures they have access to clean water and can actively contribute to the sustainable development of their communities. In the words of King Parakramabahu, "Let not a drop of water go to the sea without being made useful for mankind." Let us collectively work towards this vision, where rainwater becomes a valuable resource harnessed for the benefit of all.

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