Rainwater harvesting is not a new phenomenon in Kenya except for magnitudes and proportions. Kenyan communities have practised different techniques in rainwater harvesting for a long time but in varying scales and conditions. Most applicable harvesting techniques are simple, acceptable and replicable across many cultural and economic settings. Success stories abound that can be cited, particularly in the arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya where rainwater harvesting is a principal pre-occupation to ensure economic survival and success. Some examples to be enumerated include:
(i) Kasaye Project, which has an agricultural component, is implemented by the Kenya Rainwater Association;
(ii) UNEP/Earth Care Africa project in Machakos consists of harvesting water and storing it in sand and sub-surface dams. This project has a strong gender component on empowering women.
These projects have been replicated directly by neighbouring local communities after recognising the positive impacts the harvesting technology has on those who practice it. Training workshops and field exchange visits between different communities on harvesting techniques have exposed more people and elicited interest in adopting these interventions.
Several lessons have been learned during the development, promotion and implementation of rainwater harvesting techniques. Highlights of these include:
a) Poor planning during formulation and implementation can cause deleterious environmental effects. Therefore, planned interventions of specified scale must be subjected to environmental impact assessment before implementation;
b) Community involvement and participation is crucial for the success of interventions. Therefore, appropriate benefits to target communities must be identified earlier in the project planning stage and communities sensitised to internalise and accept proposed technological interventions;
c) Capacity building for the community is key for the sustainability of proposed interventions. It is, therefore, vital to impart skills through training to a selected cadre of community members to ensure sustainability, continuity and replication of the new technology.