Rainwater Catchments: A Solution to Water Scarcity

Jun 30, 2014

If the Women Benefit, We All Benefit

Villagers Building Rainwater Catchment Basin
Villagers Building Rainwater Catchment Basin


“If the Women Benefit, We All Benefit”   

As Yameogo Brahima said earlier this year in the village of Ramongokamsi: “We all know the water basin will help us, particularly the women, and if the women benefit, everyone benefits.”  The demand is very high from many villages in Burkina Faso to have water throughout the year.  Rainwater catchment basins can demonstrate the most effective way to create a more sustainable community, curb out-migration, promote girls’ education by removing the burden of searching for water, and then empower farming’s productive ability.  To meet the demand, Give Water Give Life (GWGL) is producing a prototype Rainwater Catchment Basin (RCB) that can be replicated throughout the country.

Water Throughout The Year for Rural Villlages

Based on our most recent research, village visits, data and partnership activities, Give Water Give Life broadened our scope and increased our budget.  Developing a prototype RCB requires local non-governmental organizations, communities, village leaders, engineers, graduate students, private manufacturers, managers and transportation.  Our updated program includes all these and their related costs.

A well designed village rainwater catchment basin collects runoff water in a suited emplacement and topography; stores it; and makes water available year round for agriculture, economic development, and improving rural health. A rainwater catchment basin was envisioned, developed and built by residents in the village of Sisene, in central west Burkina Faso, in 2008. Success is realized by the 2,000 residents using the 6,000 cubic meters of water from their new basin – available to them every day since the initial rainfall in 2008.  With the basin water, the aquifer was restored, the water table raised, six formerly dry wells now have water, and families are healthier and able to send their children to school.

Building on this success, Give Water Give Life is developing a prototype RCB.  The participation of the villagers in the creation of the RCB is the most important ingredient to its success and long life. To improve sustainability, the prototype is being upgraded with: emergency spillway; satellite imagery processing technologies to determine suitable topography and locations; and solar/wind powered micro irrigation and water filtration systems.

“With Water Year Round, Our Daughters Can Go To School”

Give Water Give Life is raising funds for research, prototype development, installation, testing, and operations. Private, for-profit companies are working with GWGL to develop solar/wind powered water irrigation and water filtration systems to be used in Burkina Faso.  Two villages will also be used to test these products.  The existing Sisene RCB and the rainwater pond in Djoiuga (northern Burkina Faso) will be retrofitted with the new irrigation and filtration systems over the next 12 months. These will serve as ground tests of the micro irrigation and water filtration technologies. The prototype rainwater catchment basin is being engineered to incorporate the best factors needed for efficiency and productivity in the extremely harsh climes of Burkina Faso.

Once the prototype rainwater catchment infrastructure is completed, 3 or 4 new RCBs will be constructed in 2015 and 2016.  Analysis and testing will be continuously conducted to assure quality design and installation, comprehensive understanding, use, and maintenance by residents of each village. Subsequently, the new technologies will be incorporated into the prototype RCB to then be reproduced throughout Burkina Faso.

Give Water Give Life has also committed to repairing the existing Sisene RCB before the next rainy season begins in June 2015.


Last October, Give Water Give Life began fundraising with GlobalGiving.  We sought donations to build a new RCB in a second village.  Many contributions have been received through Global Giving and GWGL is continuously and truly grateful for each one.  We are requesting assistance from our donors to improve our project through our refocus on the prototype design, implementation testing, and repair of the existing basin.

At this time, the amount of money needed to build a new rainwater catchment basin is close to $100,000.  But before building another new rainwater catchment basin, we need to spend more time and money to produce the prototype. By fine-tuning the design of the prototype, we could have a less expensive RCB and also one that is more easily sustainable.  The original RCB built in Sisene has faltered at its one end and is losing precious water.  After the fact, we learned that the RCB should have had an emergency spillway in order to better control water flow after heavy rainfall.

Therefore, now each new RCB will have an emergency spillway.  Other items being incorporated into the design of the prototype include: solar/wind powered water filtration & water irrigation systems; proper porous basin linings; and use of satellite imagery, GPS, and field survey data to exactly determine RCB locations. 

We would like to use the funds to help pay the costs of the creation of the prototype and the reparation of the existing basin in the village of Sisene.  If acceptable, we will place a new list of items on our Global Giving page that will delineate how money is used, and whether it is for the design of the prototype, the repair of the existing Sisene RCB, and/or the retrofitting of the water basins in the villages of Sisene and Djoiuga.  As we proceed, we will update the amounts needed for each and all of the tasks.

Thank you Global Giving donors!  Your support is very much needed and appreciated!  Please let us know if you have any additional suggestions for improving our communication with you and other potential supporters.  Your comments about our work are also always welcome.  Thank you again.

Because of the water, I am going to school - Satsi
Because of the water, I am going to school - Satsi
Thank You and Welcome to Our Home! Ramde Famiily
Thank You and Welcome to Our Home! Ramde Famiily
Happy Father and Son in Djoiuga
Happy Father and Son in Djoiuga
Julien at Edge of Sisene RCB Needing Repairs
Julien at Edge of Sisene RCB Needing Repairs
We Had Fun At School!  Merci mille fois!
We Had Fun At School! Merci mille fois!
Mar 31, 2014

We Can Go To School Now

Four School Children
Four School Children

“We Are In School Now!” -  VILLAGE OF SISENE.

Over 700 girls and boys are attending school in Sisene, more than double the number attending before the rainwater catchment basin was built!  Girls can attend school because they must no longer walk three hours a day to find water for their families.  After construction of the rainwater catchment in Sisene, gardening began being practiced on a large scale and has become permanent. Animal husbandry, fishing, development of small businesses, markets three times each week are now standard.

A new rainwater catchment basin serving 2,000 village residents costs less than $50 per person.  Providing water year round is the key to success.  Global Giving makes it easy to donate and to share, providing great benefit to the villagers of Burkina Faso. 

Self-Help Enables Villagers

During the last quarter, field visits by the GWGL team have generated information about family structure, education, health, and economic activities in villages wanting a new rainwater catchment basin.  Data was also collected on physical and institutional terrain and structures; farming methods; and GPS coordinates for using satellite imagery. Villagers spoke about their individual needs with respect to water and how hard each one is willing to work to have a new basin. 

VILLAGE OF RAMONGOKAMSI.  Over three-hundred residents of RamongoKamsi attended January meetings to seek assistance in building a new rainwater catchment basin.  Seeing the success in Sisene has them eager to start building now.  According to the President of the Community Association, RamongoKamsi had a water retention pond built by the population itself, but the dam collapsed, and for over ten years, there has been little water.  Without water year round, life is much more difficult.  The leader of the Women’s Agriculture Cooperative spoke on behalf of her group and shared: “If you help us build a basin, there will be a complete change.  There will be no out-migration and there will be many improvements.” 

An entire agriculturally based village can become healthier and economically self-sufficient through sustainable community development that a single rainwater catchment basin makes possible.  Give Water Give Life (GWGL) Project has a fine tuned product that requires each basin designed: meet local conditions; include local villagers’ leadership and participation; clay-based (to help raise the water table); emergency spillway; solar-powered irrigation system; solar-powered filtration system; satellite imagery for optimum location placement; and data collection on overall health and nutrition. 

Global Giving donors are making it possible to build another basin.  One basin costs $85,000 which is less than $50 per person served in a village.  However, we have raised $20,000 so far.  We need your suggestions on how to make the positive impacts of a rainwater catchment basin better understood.   Should we focus on raising enough money for each of the components of the basin first?  Rather than the total costs?  Please, your help is very much needed and appreciated. 

Thank You!

Natalie Kiemtore & Daughter
Natalie Kiemtore & Daughter
RamongoKamsi Land Chief "We Work Hard Together"
RamongoKamsi Land Chief "We Work Hard Together"
RamongoKamsi Mother "With Water All Is Possible"
RamongoKamsi Mother "With Water All Is Possible"
Sisene' Nana Kuila - "The Basin Saved Our Village"
Kamsi Boys "We
Kamsi Boys "We'll Help Build To Have Water For All
Jan 2, 2014

December Project Report

The Friends of Burkina Faso’s Rainwater Catchment Basin Project

December 2013 Project Report

In this last quarter, we have held focus groups with the residents of Ramongo to determine their strategy for having a village rainwater catchment basin (RCB). Currently, demographic data and information are being collected on the status of living standards, agriculture, land, village structure, health, nutrition, and education.

 Residents of Sisene (where the first village RCB was completed) are sending 20 more children to school.  A group of Ramongo farmers recently visited Sisene to discuss various ideas about management of the village RCB and the use of the water.  GPS coordinates have been collected.  And satellite imaging is being used to help determine important factors (landscape, water flow, terrain, past & current conditions) associated with properly locating the village RCBs. 

Research focused on the appropriate solar and wind technology to be used for water filtration, agricultural irrigation, and household use is on-going.  Partnerships with technology companies are being investigated.  

Much progress was achieved in December accumulating funds needed to launch construction of the second village RCB.  Contributors from the Global Giving site have been generous and are truly much appreciated. We will continue to keep you posted as we get closer to our goal.    


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Project Leader

Kathleen McDonald

Vice President
Largo, Florida United States

Where is this project located?