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Time to embrace rainwater harvesting

In Zimbabwe, as in most parts of Africa and other third World countries, there is a constant shortage of water either for drinking, home, industry or agricultural use as effects of climate change are taking roots.
Extreme weather patterns have more often been the most serious and widely felt effects of climate change and in Zimbabwe, particularly this year, the rainy season which is almost halfway, has been characterised by very low rainfall activity raising fears of a critical water and food shortage.
Various mechanisms have been put in place to ensure that food and water security is guaranteed. Currently, Government, through the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), is running a campaign to sensitise people about water conservation.
While these efforts have gone a long way in minimising effects of climate change, we cannot afford to slip into the comfort zone given that there are strong indications from weather experts that the climate change phenomenon is here to stay.
It is imperative to design strategies that will guarantee long term sustainability. Domestic users, industry, and farmers must be encouraged to develop ways of conserving water so that the little rains we are receiving can sustain us at least up to the next rainy season.
It is possible. It only requires collective effort and utmost commitment from all relevant stakeholders
One of the most effective ways which agriculture and water experts agree can go a long way in mitigating climate change effects is rainwater harvesting.
Rain water harvesting is the process of collecting water from suitable surfaces on which rain falls and preserving it for future use. Normally, rainwater is collected from roof tops and stored in water tanks.
The water can also be harnessed from ground water sources to constructed reservoirs and it is important to note that this rainwater harvesting concept can be practiced in towns, cities, farms and rural areas.
Although the rainwater harvesting concept is fairly new in Zimbabwe, it has been around for a long time and has also been rapidly growing in other parts of the African continent.
The claim that rainwater harvesting is only possible when the rains are heavy is unfortunately one of the biggest misconceptions that have scuttled rainwater harvesting efforts in the past.
In view of the growing water shortage, it is important to emphasise that rainwater harvesting, even in a season that is characterised by very low rainfall, should be practised.
In fact, it is in a water shortage season like this year when rainwater harvesting becomes very useful in improving agricultural production, averting food shortage as well as guaranteeing water security.
Suffice to say, rainwater harvesting is gradually becoming one of the most effective ways of achieving sustainable climate change adaption and mitigation. Below are some of the advantages of rainwater harvesting.
Can be used for several non-drinking purposes
Harvested rainwater can be used for several non-drinking functions such as flushing toilets, washing clothes, watering the garden etc. In a country that is experiencing water shortage, it is unnecessary to use treated water for non-drinking household chores when the same chores can be done using harvested rainwater.
Reduces water bill
Since water collected through water harvesting can be used for several non-drinking functions both at home and in businesses, this leads to a reduction in utilities bills. In industries, harvested water can be used in many operations without having to rely on and therefore deplete conventional sources.
Reduces demand on groundwater
Due to industrial development and rapid population growth, water supply especially in most urban areas has outstripped supply with many people having to rely on groundwater for their water needs which has led to the depletion of groundwater level. If the little rain that we are receiving is harvested, it would reduce demand on groundwater as more people will be using the harvested water for all non-drinking chores.
Suitable for irrigation
Rainwater is free from many chemicals found in groundwater and that makes it arguably the most suitable for irrigation.

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