Provide affordable water to villagers in Kerala

Nov 5, 2012

November Update

Solid Works stress analysis on prototype design
Solid Works stress analysis on prototype design


One of our student members conducted research with Brown University about the viability of alternative tank construction materials over the summer. The results were great news for R4H -- incorporating coconut fiber into the cement mixture used in our rainwater harvesting tanks has been shown to be just as strong as the traditional mixture, but with a 40% projected material cost savings! Additionally, the coconut fiber is sourced locally, and as a result is more environmentally friendly than other possible materials.

This cost savings is crucial in expanding Rainwater for Humanity under an economically sustainable model. We are excited to be in the prototyping process; currently construction is moving forward on our first coconut fiber cement mixture tank!

In an attempt to match soil conditions and familiarize Thankachen, the local mason, with the new coconut fiber cement mixture, Rainwater for Humanity will construct the prototype tank on site in Achinakom. We are pleased to have hired Ms. Arathi Babu, a local engineer, to aid with the prototyping process and to assess and document the progress of the prototype tank.  Construction of the tank will be monitored closely to document any cracking, dilation, or larger structural issues. Furthermore, water quality tests will be conducted through the rainy seasons, to monitor any possible leaching effects. 

With this prototyping process underway in India, the Brown University team has begun formulating a business plan that leverages the new cost-effective coconut fiber cement mixture in our tank design to scale Rainwater for Humanity’s reach in Kuttanad.  
Solid Works stress analysis on prototype design
Solid Works stress analysis on prototype design
Aug 3, 2012

August update- Cost reduction with coconut fiber

Well water unsuitable for construction purpose
Well water unsuitable for construction purpose

Rainwater for Humanity addresses the scarcity of potable water in the Indian state of Kerala. Our approach is to build concrete tanks that collect and store rainwater from the monsoon season for use throughout the year. However, high material costs in Kerala severely limit the affordability of these tanks. This summer, our team member at Brown University, Samuel Lee is undertaking a research on ‘Coconut Fiber Reinforced Concrete’ to address this. The project goal is to reduce the cost of constructing rainwater harvesting tanks by evaluating mechanical properties of alternative building materials. These alternative materials are locally available and may significantly reduce cost.


Although the research is still in progress, we are excited to share several encouraging results. The strength and density of coconut-fiber-reinforced concrete is high enough to warrant serious consideration as a construction material. Other feasible substitutes such as fly ash are also identified. The upcoming round of tests will further examine the material strength gained with curing over time and their alkalinity. Based on these results, we will either prototype a new design incorporating coconut fiber concrete mixture in Kerala, or conduct test on mixtures to address issues encountered.


Thank you for your generous support so far! If you have resources related to our research, do let us know. We’d also like to express our gratitude to Professor Bull and Brown Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award that has made this research possible. Do keep an eye out for our next report on the run-up to tank construction.


Rainwater for Humanity team

Apr 29, 2012

April Update- Thank you!

Our 9th water user group! Sreedharan, Kidangil
Our 9th water user group! Sreedharan, Kidangil
We are so excited to announce that, thanks to your gracious and ongoing support, Rainwater for Humanity has started construction on three more tanks! These three tanks will bring water to 9-12 more families in Achinakom. Your donations are changing lives in Kerala, and we cannot express enough just how grateful the Brown team, the India team, and the residents of Achinakom all are for your help. We are excited to soon be implementing our new Veggie Panel tank design, bringing down tank costs and providing more families with access to clean and affordable drinking water.
We would like to share the results of our 2011 Impact Survey with you. R4H values transparency and inclusiveness in our work, and that includes getting feedback from the villagers and sharing it with our supporters. Both the  impact report and several videos from our Brown Team's trip to Achinakom in January are available on our blog. The links can be accessed below.

Thank you!
Our 10th water user group! Sivankutty, Kizhakkekar
Our 10th water user group! Sivankutty, Kizhakkekar
Our 11th water user group! Sugunan, Pannathadam
Our 11th water user group! Sugunan, Pannathadam
Construction is underway
Construction is underway


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Project Leader

Sam Lee

Kottayam, Kerala India

Where is this project located?

Map of Provide affordable water to villagers in Kerala