In 2003 I wrote that “Rainwater harvesting (RWH) represents people-oriented technology that is an aspect of household water security. Thus, it requires an intense participatory and also an interdisciplinary approach. The role of the household has to be recognised, emphasis has to be on the post-construction phase and in capacitating the community members in maintaining what essentially belongs to them.“ I was a young water professional and an eager Field Specialist of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Support Project Phase III (RWSSSP, also known as 'Finnida' project and 'Lumibini project').
In 2002 I had collected the following comments from the women (Field Report by Rautanen 2002):
"The RWH jar has already made a difference in our lives. Even if we are not using the water from the RWH jar for the drinking yet, it is a great relief. We used to have to walk nearly an hour to collect water. That is one trip only. And that is not including the waiting time at the spring." "We used to wake up at 4 am to start fetching water before going to work on the fields. In the evenings when we came back, we had to start carrying water again. We used to go to sleep very late. Now we do not have to do that anymore. We can also rest." "No more backache." "Even if the RWH jar would be only of seasonal help, it is exactly the right season. This rainy season is the most busy agricultural time for us. We spend long days at the field. Now we can concentrate on that as nobody has to spend time carrying water." "The personal hygiene in this household has definitely improved. We wash ourselves and our hands much more than we did before when we had to carry all the water." "I would like us to have more RWH jars. We know now how to do it and I think that we will." "I have no space in my yard, as you can see, but I really wanted to have a RWH jar. I now have made an arrangement with my neighbour so that that the jar can be on that land. That is not my land. I would also like to have a latrine, but where can I build it?" "I just cleaned the jar. There were plenty of water in the there. I invited the neighbours to wash their clothes here. Look at those. They are not all mine!" "We used to collect rainwater to that plastic tank over there. Now it has been circulated in the village to provide water wherever the RWH jar has been constructed. It takes a lot of water to prepare the jar and then to cure it. We will save the tank for the future. When you have a wedding or some other party, you do need a lot of water in the house."
RWSSSP supported total 5,592 rainwater harvesting (RWH) jars within three years of Phase III. We promoted RWH as safe drinking water but started having our doubts: the quality was not necessarily up to the national drinking water quality standards given that the rainwater was collected from the roof tops. We worked on such improvements as first flush systems and advocating the regular cleaning of the jars. On the other hand, we assumed that the quality is not necessarily a problem as water is a useful asset for many other purposes. Even if drinking water was still carried from the previous water sources, the sometimes very long water fetching trips could be reduced to one or two trips per day. Sanitation, hygiene, home gardens and also animals benefited: because of the steep hills, the bigger animals cannot be taken to the wate