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Using rocks to harvest rainwater to quench thirst for Tharaka people

Using rocks to harvest rainwater to quench thirst for Tharaka people
April 24, 2019 Eastern Newspaper

To alleviate a biting shortage of water in the drier parts of Tharaka, Tharaka Nithi Government has allocated funds for the construction of the Eikumi Rock Water Catchment project.

The project at Gatunga in Tharaka North is meant to provide the resource to residents who terk for miles in search of the precious but inaccessible product.

Governor Muthomi Njuki said the project, in addition to other water projects in Tharaka will go a long way to end the suffering of residents.

“Our idea is to have all residents be able to get water from near their homes. That is why we are putting our energy and resources to have water in the drier parts of our county,” the governor said.

The project will benefit residents of Gachooroni, and also enable schools such as Manduru Primary have water for various purposes.

Driving across the rough Tharaka terrain, dried-up rivers are a common sight.

Along the dusty roads, we pass women and children carrying jerricans, in search of the precious commodity.

One unmistakable feature about Tharaka is its stark beauty, even in the absence of green grasslands.

The breathtaking giant rocks rise to the sky in unrestrained splendour, as if stating defiance. The Tharaka rocks are as huge as hills.

Geologists would have a field day in studying some of the rocks, some with surface areas to rival a soccer pitch!

It is on these rocks that the county is banking on to trap rainwater for residents.

Locals attest to the strength of the rocks, which have stood the test of time. The vagaries of weather have done little to wear them out. It is these huge boulders that have turned into an ally in the search for water and to an extent, food security. They have significantly bolstered the rapidly dwindling sources of water after almost all the rivers dried up.

Rainwater harvesting is the solution that people in the acutely dry Tharaka have been waiting for, to deal with the perennial shortage.

But families lacked resources to store water whenever it rained. They could not afford storage tanks in their homesteads.

They have now turned to rock catchment to harvest rainwater, with much success.

The locals, with support from charity organization Plan International, have turned to these rock structures to harvest water when rains pound the region.

As the rain falls on the expansive rocks, which have been altered and fitted with pipes, the water flows into the huge brick tanks that have been constructed below.

An example of the success of rock catchment is the Rwara, Mukuruti Kanyi Rock water project. It is a huge spread of rock, fenced and fitted with gutters to lead water into the massive water tank.

The villagers formed a merry-go-round and used the contributions to buy a 3-acre piece of land. “We identified the area because of this rock, then approached local NGOs and they topped up the balance. With their help we have been able to build this tank, which is able to store 50,000 liters of water,” says Mercy Gitonga, a beneficiary of the Mukuruti Kanyi Rock.



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