Script 54.7


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Have you noticed that it’s getting more and more difficult to find clean water?

Well, here is good news for listeners who walk a long way to get water.

There is a way to collect water with very little effort – let the water come to you!

Catch it on your roof.

You’ll be amazed at how much water you can collect!

You may be able to provide all the drinking water for your family.

Or water your garden with rainwater all year!

What are the advantages of using rainwater?

First, no more standing in line at the well.

Rainwater is easy to collect and store.

And you can build your own rainwater collection system.

This is especially good news for women who often fetch water for the household.

You can catch rainwater from the top of your house or a shed – any building will do!

To collect rainwater from your roof you need three things: a sloping roof, a pipe or gutter to carry the rainwater, and a storage container.

As the rain falls it flows down the side of the roof and the gutter carries it to a storage container.

You can make a gutter from tin, from hollowed-out wood, or from large, split pieces of bamboo.

Look around and consider carefully what will work best.

Attach the gutters firmly to the roof or the outside wall of the building.

Make sure that they are big enough to carry large amounts of water during heavy rainfall.

Place the gutters so that they slope slightly towards the storage tank.

You don’t want any pools of water to form in the gutters.

Now you will need to select a storage container to hold the water.

Your container might be a metal tank, an old washtub, a plastic container, a concrete jar, a clay cistern or a granary basket covered with cement.

The size of the storage container depends on the climate.

If it rains all year choose a container that is large enough to hold one month’s supply of water.

If you live in an area where there is a wet season and a dry season, you may want containers that are large enough to store water for the entire dry season.


Here’s how the rainwater is collected.

It’s very simple.

Rain hits the roof, and runs down the sides of the roof into the gutters.

The gutters carry the water to the downspout.

The downspout carries the water to the storage container.

You store the water in the container and use it when you need it.

Some people run pipes directly from the container to their vegetable garden.

Something to keep in mind is that any dirt on your roof will affect the quality of the water.

The materials that the roof is made of will also affect water quality.

For example, thatch may contaminate or discolour water.

Or chemicals from other roof materials can also get into the water.

This is especially important to remember if you are going to use the water for drinking or cooking.

If you have a thatch roof and you want to collect water, cover the roof with a plastic sheet.


We have been talking about the advantages of collecting rainwater.

It is easier than fetching water.

And you can build your own rainwater collection system.

And now, you are interested in catching rainwater.

But there’s a problem.

You have a flat roof and you’re not sure if you can catch enough rain.

It’s true that a flat roof catches less rain than a sloped roof.

But don’t worry – any roof can be improved to catch more water.

Here’s a simple way to get more water from your flat roof.

What you need to do is to make your roof seem higher than it really is.

You want to add a vertical surface to your roof.

The way to accomplish this is to attach a vertical panel to your roof.

When I say “panel”, this could be a piece of wood, a piece of metal, or a piece of plastic.

Any material will work as long as it is solid.

The panel should be one to two metres long.

Next you must decide which side of your house faces the wind most often.

Attach the panel securely to the top of the roof on the side of the house that faces the wind.

The panel should be placed so that rainwater will blow into it, and slide down it directly into the gutter.

If you have light winds, use a tall panel, about two metres high.

If there are strong winds in your area, use a shorter panel.

Or, use a panel that can be folded up or easily removed in case of a big storm.

Strong winds may blow down a very tall panel.

By attaching this panel to your roof you will collect more rainwater!



  • Contributed by: Vijay Cuddeford, researcher/writer, Developing Countries Farm Radio Network.
  • Reviewed by: Kenneth Boche, Permaculture Teacher and Energy Specialist, Hawaii, USA. E-mail: