of participants of rainwater international 2001,
The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a New Delhi-based
non-governmental organisation (NGO) participated in the Rainwater International 2001
conference held between September 10-14, 2001 in Mannheim, Germany. The CSE also took a
group of water experts so that they could interact with water harvesters from different
parts of the world and exchange their experiences. The group comprised of:
Deo, Chattisgarh minister for finance, commercial tax, planning and statistics, who had,
way back in early 1980s cautioned against the indiscriminate exploitation of groundwater
and the need of rainwater harvesting.
Shamjibhai Antala of
Saurashtra Lok Manch, an activist who has raised awareness and helped farmers to recharge
more than 3 lakh wells in Saurashtra region of Gujarat and is assisting several state
governments in formulating rural water harvesting strategies.
R Jeyakumar, managing
director of Rajparis Civil Construction Limited, Chennai, and an active campaigner and
practitioner of rainwater harvesting.
Tej Razdan, a surgeon by
profession and secretary of Jheel Sanrakshan Samiti, an Udaipur-based NGO, fighting with
the authorities for several years now, to clean up the lakes of Udaipur, the source of the
city's water supply.
The conference was jointly organised by fbr, FAKT Consultant for Management,
Trainings and Technologies and International Rainwater Catchment Systems Association
(IRCSA). IRCSA is an association formed to promote and advance rainwater catchment systems
technology worldwide. Fbr is a German professional association of people, institutions,
companies and authorities, involved in rainwater utilisation. FAKT is a non-profit
consultancy founded to make technical expertise available for overseas partners of
European development aid organisations. Its water sector has a strong emphasis on
The conference was a platform to highlight the potential of rainwater harvesting in
meeting rural, urban, domestic, agricultural and industrial water requirements.
Participants included planners, decision-makers, members of civil society, persons
involved in research and development and manufacturers and distributors of rainwater
harvesting systems and components.
Sessions were held on rainwater management and utilisation, greywater recycling,
technology and marketing. Apart from the conference, the International Rainwater Fair was
also organised where technologies developed for rainwater usage and wastewater recycling
and reuse were displayed. Posters relating to rainwater catchment systems in the urban
environment, rainwater harvesting in humid and arid regions, water quality aspects, water
harvesting for agriculture, education and consciousness were displayed. Excursions to
sites where rainwater harvesting had been implemented were part of the conference. These
included visits to an apple juice factory and Darmstadt University where rainwater
harvesting has been made an integral part of water management.
One of the keynote addresses was given by CSE during the inauguration of the
meeting where the need to 'make water everybody's business' was stressed and the role of
water in local food security and poverty alleviation was defined.
In a session on raising awareness the CSE staffer shared CSE's experiences on
raising awareness: documentation in books, the newsletter Catch Water, articles in Down to
Earth, website, organising paani yatras, public lectures and other efforts.
Sensing the interest of African participants in Indian community water management
practices, CSE organised a special workshop. About 30 participants attended it. During the
workshop, Ramchandra Singh Deo informed about the water availability scenario fifty years
from now. While painting a dismal picture he said that given the way world was abusing the
water resources, fifty years from now there would be no groundwater, and whatever would be
available, would be polluted. He stressed on the need for harvesting rain and suggested
the construction of small water harvesting structures in the catchment of large dams, to
reduce the negative impact of desilting large dams that is going on at a faster rate than
Shamjibhai Antala shared his experience of raising awareness and recharging wells
in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. He informed about the use of several fora and
socio-religious organisations for promoting awareness and the techniques of how a well in
a farmers field could be recharged.
Tez Razdan informed about the campaign of the people of Udaipur in preventing
further pollution of the lakes of Udaipur under the guidance of Jheel Sanrakshan Samiti.
He also informed about the jal biradari formed in Udaipur and the use of street plays and
songs to spread the message of water conservation.
R Jeyakumar discussed the techniques and cost involved in rooftop rainwater
harvesting. The workshop concluded with a question and answer session.
CSE also participated in the International Rainwater Fair, sharing the stall space
with FAKT and put up a digital exhibition on rainwater harvesting experiences in India.
Despite a small place, the stall was able to attract several visitors. Most of them were
attracted by the digital exhibition and also by the publications and water-related
Participation in this meeting helped spread the message that indeed, rain is a
powerful source of water. It also provided an invaluable opportunity to learn from
experiences of others as well.
On September 29, 2001, a one-day workshop was jointly organised by Centre for
Science and Environment (CSE), a New Delhi-based non-governmental organisation (NGO),
along with other Delhi-based NGOs namely, Aashray Abhiyan, Butterflies, Development
Alternatives, Pravah, Toxics Link, Shristi and Youthreach, as a part of the 'Beyond Zebra'
program, in Springdales school. The workshop, which was attended by the students of class
11th and 12th, was successful in sensitising the students on community-led rainwater
Beyond Zebra is a life skills and citizenship education program, which works with
principals, teachers and students to develop youth leaders. It is a 30-40 hour annual
program for schools with regular workshops of 1.5 to 3 hours conducted over the year.
A wealth of information on rainwater harvesting was provided to the participating
students. The morning session started with the CSE staffer explaining in detail about the
different rural water harvesting practices and the role of community in it. The afternoon
session introduced the students to the various aspects of urban water harvesting. The
hydrological cycle was also explained. A detailed visual presentation exposed the students
to the methods and technical aspects of rainwater harvesting.
During the workshop the students raised two significant issues:
The possibility of storing rainwater for daily use, in Delhi.
The possible ways of mobilising people in their respective colonies to implement rainwater
The students decided to organise themselves in three groups to conserve
and manage depleting water resources in Delhi:
Group 1: home group.
Group 2: school group.
Group 3: policy group.
They also presented a detailed action plan. Each student from the group
presented a part of the plan, thus making sure that each of them got a chance to speak.
Their understanding on the issue was evidently visible when they not only actually
calculated the amount of water that would be wasted in holding a rain dance at the end of
the workshop, but also requested the school authorities to stop such events in their