Gungthramo, Punakha: Even as monsoon rain drips from the roof of her small hut, Tandin Beda rushes out to collect water from her neighbour to drink and wash. She has been depending on her neighbour for water for the last five years.

Every morning, the mother of two goes to her neighbour Tashimo’s to fill her plastic buckets and jerry cans. The water she takes back will be enough just for a day. Gungthramo is one of the villages in the dzongkhag that faces shortage of water.

“I am tired of begging water,” said Tandin Beda. “I hesitate to bother my neighbour everyday. When there are guests and relatives at Tashimo’s, I do not get water. It is not easy begging water in front of other people.”

If the villagers knew how to harvest rainwater, it would bring much relief and the problem of water shortage eased, especially during monsoon. None here has heard the term ‘rainwater harvesting’.

In two weeks, the country received 4,654.9mm rain. During monsoon, between June and August, the country’s river systems, springs and streams swell with excess water. Untapped rainwater is let go down drains and gullies.

Drinking water shortage is increasingly becoming a problem in some communities of Samdrupjongkhar, Mongar, Phuentsholing, and Gelephu.

Could introducing rainwater-harvesting technology be a solution, small though it may be in scale, in the places where there is water scarcity?


Feasibility of harvesting rainwater

Some 1,049 households of 36 villages in Mongar, Samtse, Pemagatshel and Tsirang have accessed to adequate drinking water after Tarayana Foundation brought rainwater harvesting and water management projects in the communities.

In Khengkhar, Mongar, 54 households depend entirely on rainwater for drinking. The gewog had been suffering from water shortage due to drying of sources.

The foundation, one of the most active non-governmental organisations in the country, provided the villagers with gutter, pipes, and construction materials to build tanks. Some families were provided sintex to store water. Rainwater is collected using gutter and pipe and stored in tanks to be used when there is water shortage.

The foundation’s programme officer, Jamyang Phuntsho, said that most of the water sources in Kangkher have dried because of climate change and other factors.

“People were in dire need of water. After we helped them with rainwater harvesting techonoly, they now have adequate water to drink,” said Jamyang Phuntsho.

In Samtse, Tsirang and Pemagstshel, the foundation helped build water tanks, supplied pipes, educated people on water management practices, encouraged water source protection, and trained them on water safety and usage. The foundation’s focus also includes designing of storage, distribution systems, and rehabilitation of communities.

The rainwater harvesting and water management programmes are part the foundation’s on-going project under Climate Resilient Water Harvesting for Rural Areas. Funded by UNDP-GEF through the National Environment Commission, the project aims to achieve sustainable and green economic growth by providing water in vulnerable communities.

Tenzin Namgyel