World Water Day: RAINS project in Yemen winner of Philips Livable Cities

Today, 22 March, is World Water Day, a day to highlight the importance of water security. With water resources being under more and more pressure awareness also becomes increasingly important, as does securing universal access to clean water.

The winner of the Philips Livable Cities Award. promotes exactly that. The RAINS project in Sana’a, Yemen by Sabrina Faber, looks to the past to develop an innovative approach to overcome water scarcity.

Sana’a is the capital and largest city of Yemen. Experts predict that Sana’a’s groundwater supply may be exhausted by 2017 and water scarcity may be at the heart of Yemeni conflicts. Therefore, it is imperative to develop a long-term strategy to ensure high quality water provision. Sana’a is one of the oldest cities in the world and UNESCO has named it a World Heritage Site therefore it is only fitting that the solution to its water problem lies in the past.

Based on ancient traditional Yemeni rainwater catching system, the RAINS project aims to provide a sustainable way to address the water challenge facing Yemen. The rainwater is caught in cisterns and then, through a series of pipes, led to an above ground filter tank and then to underground storage tanks. Sana’a experiences acute and high rainfall in the summer months, and is extremely dry throughout the rest of the year, so water needs to be stored for extended periods of time. In a 24-hour trial session using one such tanks they managed to capture roughly 10 000 litres of water. Therefore, the project could possibly provide clean water to Sana’a in the future. The project has experienced some delays due to the unrest in the region, but has been fully up and running since January this year. Let’s hope this leads to huge success for the area.

For more information about the project and the Philips Livable Cities award click here. There is also a blog about the project and ongoing developments here.

For videos about the project: Video 1 and Video 2.