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The Rock catchment system is revolutionizing water access in Makueni county in Kenya

Joyce Mule fills jugs with water from a rock catchment system in Makueni County, Kenya on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. Villagers put big stones to filter the rainwater and a pipe   -  
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Brian Inganga/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved


In Makueni county, in dry southeastern Kenya, water is very scarce. There’s little piped water and few reliable alternatives.

So in 2012, villagers resolved to address that problem by adopting the rock catchment system, a method of harvesting rainwater from stone outcrops, which are giant naturally occurring rocks standing hundreds of feet above the ground.

Villagers built a concrete wall around the rock to trap rainwater, with the financial and technical support of a NGO called Africa Sand Dam Foundation.

They placed big stones to filter the water and a pipe to take the water down to storage tanks.

The water collected from the rock catchment flows into the tanks through the pipe, and then to a water collection point nearby where residents fetch it from taps.

Jefferson Mutie, communication officer at Africa Sand Dam Foundation, explains how it works.

"A rock catchment is a simple technology whereby concrete wall is constructed around a designated rock, whereby it harvests rain water then all the way to storage or the reservoirs, those are the rain water tanks."

Joyce Mule used to walk for about two hours to find water from her hilly and rocky village of Syumbe in Makueni county.

Mule comes to the rock catchment to fetch water here about five times a day and takes around half an hour to get it home.

“We used to have a lot of water challenges here. We used to walk for long distances, for about two hours, to get water. When we'd get to the well, we'd find many people having already arrived. We'd wait for as long as 30 minutes to get one jerrican of water. We used to spend most of our days looking for water,” she says.

Today Mule is happy because the new source of water is close, consistently available and the water is clean.

As a result, her trees are producing more fruits and her cows are giving more milk.

“We used to think these rocks were worthless, but now we see their benefits,” she says.

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