Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) in Arsenic-affected Communities

Project Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) in Arsenic-affected Communities

• To provide safe arsenic-free water to the arsenic-affected community • To encourage community participation in the RWH system

Project Partners Dhaka Community Hospital (DCH)

• Commencing material mobilisation and installation of RWH units • Conducting water tests of the stored water • Conducting training sessions for the owners of the RWH units in their operation and maintenance • Forming a Management Committee for each targeted village to strengthen sense of ownership

Locations Four villages in Pabna (Ruppur, Birahimpur, Durgapur, Sagorkandi)
Period March–August 2010

• Installation of 100 RWH units for 210 families • Monthly water testing after the installation of the RWH units


In Bangladesh, some 30-40 million people are drinking arsenic-contaminated water and another 70 to 80 million people are potentially at risk. Although water from deep tube wells and improved dug wells are said to be free from arsenic contamination, excessive exploitation of ground water should be avoided as it is the main reason of arsenic contamination. Rainwater remains the largest untapped source of water. Pabna, for example, receives more than 2,300 mm/year of rainfall, concentrated during the monsoon season between June and October. Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) allows for this natural supply of clean water to be stored in a safe and sustainable way.

MERCY Malaysia efforts

In close collaboration with the DCH (which gained expertise in RWH through previous projects supported by UNICEF), MERCY Malaysia has been striving to reduce the people’s dependency on arsenic-contaminated water by installing RWH units in the selected communities and by training the beneficiaries in their proper use and maintenance. With 100 RWH unit in operation, approximately 1,000 people are able to benefit from the project, as each unit can store and supply a capacity of 3,000 litres of water. Majority of these units are on a sharing basis to maximise the number of villagers receiving arsenic-free water. As well as the construction of RWH units, sessions on health and hygiene topics and kit distribution were also performed to encourage better practices among the targeted families.