Rainwater Harvesting in Grand Ravine, Haiti pt. 1

I recently did a group project in school for a class that I was taking called Engineering for Developing Communities. We decided to tackle a small portion of the issue of access to potable water in Grand Ravine, Haiti.

663 million people throughout the world live without access to clean water. For many, even non potable water is hard to come by and families must make sacrifices in order to gain access to water. The United Nations under their Sustainable Development Goals focuses on water and its role globally, making access to clean water a high priority. Non potable water is extremely hazardous to health causing increased cases of waterborne diseases like cholera which can be fatal.

The Grand Ravine is a region in southern Port-au-Prince with a population of about 20,000 people. This slum has no regulated urban design, which means that standing structures are small and inconsistently built. The geography of the area makes it difficult to find viable sources for potable water, and the use of non potable water is concerning.

In rural areas like Grand Ravine, Haiti, collecting water is a difficult, labor-intensive daily activity done by women and children. They face treacherous, steep mountain paths spending hours carrying water back to their homes. An alternative option for the people of Grand Ravine is to retrieve water from open PVC pipes, but those are often controlled by community gangs. Given that water amount and quality vary by the rainy and dry seasons, none of the aforementioned options are optimal for a community in desperate need of a more reliable source of potable water.

My group’s project aimed to provide rainwater harvesting systems on the roofs of houses for a neighborhood within Grand Ravine called Nan Mazonbél. With a given population of 500, we used Nan Mazonbél’s potable water consumption and the average amount of potable water produced from a rainwater harvesting system to install enough roofs to provide all of the inhabitants with safe drinking water. The system had enough storage to account for disparities in rainfall between daily precipitation and seasonal variations.

In my next post, I will further explain our solution and design decisions! Until then, do you have any ideas about the best way to collect, treat, and store this water?

Photo: SolarWorld USA
1. “Grand Ravine Diagnostic: Technical and Participatory,” Architecture for Humanity, Dec. 2013, accessed May 9 2017.

2 thoughts on “Rainwater Harvesting in Grand Ravine, Haiti pt. 1”

  1. It’s amazing to see how much a small group of untrained engineering students can do for a problem. Very inspiring to know that Columbia resources and thought are being put to good use.


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