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1.1 Background of the Study
Water is universally one of the most influential natural resources, if not the most valuable of all. As defined in the first paragraph of the European Union (EU) Water Framework Directive (WFD) established by the European Parliament and the Council of 23rd of October 2000; “Water is not commercial product like any other but, rather, a heritage which must be protected, defended and treated as such”. Water is life; no water means no life on the planet earth. The availability of water is necessary, but the quality of available water is even more critical. In the year 2000, the United Nations established the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) comprising 8 goals which are to be achieved by 2015. Improved water sources were accessible to over 2 billion people from 1990 to 2010, thus meeting up with the target of the MDG on drinking water (UNICEF and WHO report, 2012). The same report confirms that sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest drinking water coverage compared to all the other regions in the world. In fact, 82% of the urban population in sub-Saharan Africa has access to improved water sources compared to 95% worldwide. For the rural population, it is about 44% compared to 72% (Carles, 2009).
Unfortunately for mankind, there is an uneven distribution of both human beings and water resources globally. Therefore, areas which are occupied by human beings are not automatically areas with abundant water resources. Water scarcity can be further categorized into; physical water scarcity social and economic water scarcity. Physical water scarcity refers to a situation where; a country or region naturally has limited access to water. Furthermore, physical water scarcity can be divided into two concepts which include demand-driven scarcity (water stress) and population-driven scarcity (water shortage) (Kummu et al, 2010). About 25% of the world’s population is located in areas of physical water scarcity. Arid and semi-arid areas are mostly characterized by physical water scarcity.
Economic water scarcity refers to a situation where by a country or region has available water resources but lacks sufficient financial means to exploit her water resources. Most parts of subSaharan Africa suffer from economic water scarcity. This condition continues to aggravate in this region and will only get better if the governments of affected countries make this problem a national issue and top priority. Good governance and available financial resources are both required to combat economic water scarcity. Water scarcity issues lead to health issues as a result of the exposure to water borne diseases. In the case of water stress, people consume whatever quality of water they can lay hands on.
In recent years, global scenarios have been the popular trend with regards to the prognostication of climate change as a whole and its components in particular. Alcamo et al, 2007 analyzed the scenario portraying the change in average annual water availability by 2050. This analyzed scenario predicts the increase in precipitation in most parts of the world resulting to an increase in water availability in those parts. Conversely, the increasing air temperatures further increases evapotranspiration in almost all parts of the world and therefore decreases water availability. Precipitation and evapotranspiration interact differently and result in either an increase or decrease in water availability in different parts of the world but evapotranspiration appears to overshadow the effect of increasing precipitation because it occurs almost everywhere (Alcamo et al, 2007). This makes it quite clear that increase water availability will not be observed in all areas experiencing an increase in precipitation and evapotranspiration is the main culprit.
Health related concern associated with the quality of drinking water in developing countries has been on the increase. A recent report by WHO/UNICEF shows that about 780 million people in the developing world lack access to potable water majorly as a result of microbiological and chemical contamination (WHO/UNICEF, 2012). The accessibility of adequate and potable water for household use is an enormous challenge for rural households in developing countries (Vilane and Mwendera, 2011). About 75% of all diseases in developing countries results from polluted drinking water, hence provision of safe drinking water is an utmost necessity (TWAS, 2002). About 50% of people living in developing countries have no access to safe drinking water and 73% lack sanitation, sometimes their waste contaminate their drinking water sources resulting to a high level of suffering. The improvement of water supply, sanitation, hygiene and management of water resources can hugely prevent up to one-tenth of the global disease burden (Vilane and Mwendera, 2011).
Man has sought out different ways to mitigate the global challenge of water shortage in order to meet daily need. One of the alternative sources explored by man is rainwater harvesting (Eletta and Oyeyipo, 2008). Generally, rainwater harvesting can be regarded as any human practice that consciously captures and stores rainwater for future purpose (DTU, 1999). Rainwater harvesting is still the only source of potable water for rural communities where there are no watery networks and supplemental source where watery network is available. Rainwater harvesting is one of the most promising alternatives for supplying water in the face of increasing water scarcity and escalating demand. Rainwater harvesting presents an opportunity for the augmentation of water supplies allowing the same time for self-reliance and sustainability.
Water scarcity has become an increasingly severe global problem due to factors such as climate change, water pollution, and the unsustainable consumption of water resources (Zhan et al., 2009). This scarcity demands the maximum use of every drop of rainfall (Zreig et al., 2000) and many methods have already been developed to deal with this. Rainwater harvesting (RWH) seems to be a beneficial method for minimizing water scarcity in developing countries (Helmreich and Horn, 2009; Dile et al., 2013; Akter and Ahmed, 2015) and is a particularly useful adaptation to environmental stresses at the local scale (Pandey et al., 2003). RWH is one measure that enhances the resilience of human society towards a water shortage problem (Lee, 2016). Given these benefits, RWH is suitable for small farmers who are threatened by climateʼs unpredictability, unstable markets, and insecure conditions due to social, economic, and state politics (Fox et al., 2005).
Over thousands of years, indigenous RWH and management regimes were used and have adapted to climate change (Pandey et al., 2003). Surface run-off and RWH techniques were extensively practiced up to 4,000 years ago in Jordan, as seen in the example of Roman Pools near Ajlun, Madaba, and Mwagger (Abdulla and Al-Shareef, 2009). In Sub-Saharan Africa, this method is used to overcome dry spells (Fox et al., 2005), and a history of RWH has also been reported in India (Glendenning et al., 2012) and Sri Lanka (Dharmasena, 1994).
Commonly, there are two types of RWH methods: (1) domestic usage, using rooftops as the catchment area (Abdulla and Al-Shareef, 2009; Mun and Han, 2012; Sturm et al., 2009), and (2) agricultural usage, using the open field as the catchment area (Li et al., 2006; Panigrahi et al., 2007; Xiao et al., 2007).
RWH can be defined as the collection of rainwater run-off for domestic water supply and/or agricultural and environmental management (Worm and van Hattum, 2006). The technology comprises surface collection (catchments), water storage, and supplementary irrigation systems (He et al., 2007). Domestic RWH usually uses rooftops as the catchment area and tanks are used to store the water whereas agricultural RWH commonly uses land areas as the catchment area and ponds are used to store the water (Helmreich and Horn, 2009).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The water sector in any economy is closely linked with poverty reduction, especially for developing countries that are highly dependent on rural economy. In third world countries, the increased scarcity of water by the municipal, industrial and the agricultural sectors has increased food insecurity, health problems, poverty and the lack of some basic socio-economic facilities. The unprecedented increase in population, urbanization, and agriculture activities in recent time have resulted in the massive depletion and deterioration of the existing water resources in fast growing towns in developing countries in general and in Dansoman in particular. Added to these problems is the threat of climate change that is expected to increase water scarcity. It will distort the hydrological cycle in the next 100 years increasing precipitation, evapotranspiration, occurrence and frequency of storm water events and will trigger significant changes in biogeochemical processes that influence the quality of water (Pandey et al, 2003). Another issue of great concern is the fact that the water distribution facilities are dilapidated and need urgent reconstruction, renovation and expansion to meet the capacity of the present population. A rainwater harvesting system is not a replacement of all other water supply systems but a sustainable addition to the other water supply systems to augment water supply in a case of water scarcity like the situation in Dansoman.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The study sought to assess the feasibility of rainfall harvesting and it treatment for Dansoman community. Specifically, the study sought to;
1. explore the potential of rainwater harvesting (RWH) in Dansoman community by establishing the necessity to embark on RWH by households to augment their water supply.
2. examine the importance/benefits of rainwater harvesting in Dansoman community.
3. analyze the different types and components of rainwater harvesting systems.
1.4 Research Questions
1. What is the potential of rainwater harvesting (RWH) in Dansoman community by establishing the necessity to embark on RWH by households to augment their water supply?
2. What are the importance/benefits of rainwater harvesting in Dansoman community?
3. What are the different types and components of rainwater harvesting systems?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study will provide a comprehensive understanding with regards to stabilizing the water demand of the local population. This study will provide knowledge on rainwater harvesting possibilities and build the capacities of the both the local inhabitants as well as the authorities. This will provide knowledge to the community about the benefits of using free rainwater to augment their domestic water supply and the essence of community based integrated water resource management. The findings of this study will be provided to higher educational institutions, local (town) water councils and the Dansoman council and will assist in water management reforms. It will also be used by policy makers in the process of putting forward proper legislations in the water resource sector.
This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this study and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their research work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other study.
1.7 Scope/Limitations of the Study
This study is on feasibility of rainfall harvesting and it treatment for Dansoman Community. The study will be carried out in Dansoman, a suburban town in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana.