By Ketki Angre, June 21, 2012
Can 1 mm of rain on the roof help wash away the water problems of a community?
If the Rio example is anything to go by, it certainly looks like a promising proposition.
Their math says: 1 mm of rain per square metre = 1 litre saved.
Under the aegis of the Brazil government's project called 'Brazil without misery', the 'Water for Everyone' project works at two levels - it provides water to communities that do not have access to municipal supply and makes the community a stakeholder in its own development.
Here's how: Communities are taught how to build cisterns in their locality to store rain water, harvested during the summer, when Brazil receives good rainfall on a daily basis. Once community members learn how to set-up the cistern, they help other communities do the same.
The harvested rain-water is stored in community cisterns that can be accessed for domestic use and even for the small garden and subsistence farming.
Bruno Maciel Moraes, who works with Banco do Brasil, that finances the 'Cisterns de placas' initiative says, "The community gets empowered. If you are involved, you develop."
brazil-favela-new-295.jpgWe visited the Sergio Silva community in the Complexo do Alemao locality of Rio de Janeiro, previously notorious and synonymous with its high crime rate and drug mafia dominance. (Complexo do Alemao has as many as 17 'favelas' or slums.) Through the community cistern project, families here have greater access to drinking water and water for domestic use, including to a part of the city which even the municipal body does not service.
The 'cisterns de placas' project that has been working in eastern Brazil for a while now, and the results seem encouraging. In fact, there are 60000 cisterns in 89 counties in Brazil. The target is to reach one million. Though the cost of installation of one such cistern is about 2000 reais (US$ 1000 approx), given that it can easily help take care of the water needs of 5-6 families for eight months without any trouble, many suggest the returns are well worth the money invested.