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Script 68.7

Notes to broadcasters

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Rural women spend a lot of time collecting and carrying water – sometimes up to six hours a day. Rainwater catchment systems have the potential to significantly reduce the amount of time that women spend carrying water. Farmers can find new and innovative ways to catch rainwater from rooftops, tree trunks, tanks or other catchment structures. Encourage women to observe innovations being used by other local farmers, and to build on those ideas to create their own water harvesting systems.

Script

Characters

Host

Gowri Banda :
innovative woman farmer

HOST
-In recent programs, we’ve been highlighting farmer innovations from around the world that solve problems and reduce workloads. Today we have Mrs. Gowri Banda with us. She spent several years developing a system to catch rainwater from her roof. I’m sure that many of the women listening to our program today feel frustrated by the lack of water. Are you exhausted from having to haul water from the earth, or scoop it from streams, and carry it home, day after day? And even after all that work, sometimes you still don’t have enough water. Well perhaps Mrs. Bandi’s system will give you some ideas for catching rainwater and reducing the amount of time you spend collecting and carrying water. Welcome to the show Mrs. Banda.

MRS. BANDA
-Thank you for inviting me.

HOST
-Mrs. Banda, how did you first get the idea to harvest rainwater from your roof?

MRS. BANDA
-I really was so tired of walking to collect water and carry it home again. As you know, it’s exhausting – you mentioned that at the start of the program. I knew there must be a way to reduce the time I spent doing this every day. I wanted to use my time in other ways.

HOST
-And your rainwater catchment system helped?

MRS. BANDA
-Oh yes. Now, after a good rain, I have enough water to water the garden … without walking to fetch it!

HOST
-That’s good news for many women listening today. But, where does a person start? What supplies would I need to start catching water from my roof?

DORA
-The first thing you need is a gutter. You need to attach the gutter to the edge of the roof.

HOST
-Is it easy to make a gutter?

MRS. BANDA
-I made my first gutter from a banana stem. A banana stem works well because it is already in the shape of a gutter. I tied the banana stem to the edge of my roof with a piece of jute rope.

HOST
-That seems like a good choice because banana plants are plentiful around here. But is a banana stem strong enough?

MRS. BANDA
-Very good question! My gutter worked fine at first. But one day we had a very heavy rainfall, and the banana stem broke.

HOST
-Hmmm. So I suppose you had to find something stronger.

MRS. BANDA
-Yes indeed. Now I use a bamboo gutter. A bamboo gutter is strong and more secure. And I catch more water than with the banana.

HOST
-But you could also use tin, couldn’t you?

MRS. BANDA
-Tin is more expensive, but if you can get it, it works really well. The kind of gutter you use will also depend on the amount of rain you get. If you get heavy and frequent rains, you’ll need stronger material.

HOST
-Okay. So now you have your gutter in place. What did you do next?

MRS. BANDA
-The next thing I did was to attach some palm leaves, in the shape of a funnel, at the end of the gutter. That was to direct the water downward and prevent it from splashing all over the ground.

HOST
-And then the water flows into a container on the ground?

MRS. BANDA
-At first I tried to catch the rainwater in pots and buckets. But they overflowed quickly…so some water was wasted. I thought about this problem for a long time. Then I dug a ditch close to the house. In the ditch I put a big stone. The blockage from the stone made a pond in the ditch. Now, after a rain, I can collect water from this ditch to use in the house, or in the garden.

HOST
-So you have a source of water right beside your house! I should mention here for our listeners that any time you are storing water, you should keep the container covered to prevent contamination. Open containers of water are also a breeding ground for mosquitoes that carry malaria. But I’m sure many women could benefit from a system like yours, Mrs. Bandi. You’ve really put a lot of thought into your method of harvesting rainwater.

MRS. BANDA
-Yes I have. It has taken me many years to decide the best way to build the system with the materials I could find. And I’m not finished yet. My next project is to dig a series of channels that go from the ditch, down the slope to my garden. I won’t even have to carry the water to the garden.

HOST
-Can you tell me how your life has changed since you started to harvest rainwater?

MRS. BANDA
-Having more water makes me feel more secure. With more water, I can grow more food. I also have more time. And more energy to do the things that are important to me.

HOST
-Well Mrs. Banda, I hope you’ll come back and tell us how your project is progressing. I’m sure listeners would like to hear more about the irrigation system you are planning for the garden.

MRS. BANDA
-I will be back then, when I have more news and more ideas.

MUSICAL BREAK.

HOST
-Mrs. Banda has given us some uplifting ideas. You know, a woman farmer once said: “If I had enough water, I could grow everything except human beings, salt, and diesel.” For this woman, water meant wealth and power – with enough of it she felt she could do anything. What ideas do you have about catching rainwater? Think about the resources you have. Observe the techniques that other women are using. And then use your own creativity to find new ways to harvest more water.

Acknowledgements

Contributed by Jennifer Pittet, Thornbury, Ontario, Canada.

Reviewed by Chris Reij, International Cooperation Center, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Information Sources

Agarwal, A., Sunita Narain, and Indira Khurana, eds. Making water everybody’s business: Practice and Policy of Water Harvesting. New Delhi: Centre for Science and Environment, 2001. Email: cse@cseindia.org, URL:http://www.cseindia.org/