Super Team

Rain Water Harvesting

Every drop of Water…

“Not even a drop of water must flow into the ocean without being useful to man” declared the Great King Parakramabahu in the 12th century. The Run off Rain water harvesting tanks almost personify this vision of the king and play a vital role in arid districts of Sri Lanka, where long dry spells make farmers helpless and vulnerable. This case study is about an enterprising small-scale businessman cum farmer residing in Hambantota district, Sri Lanka.
The Run off Rain Water harvesting technology implies that the water flowing along the ground during rains is collected in a tank situated underground.  These tanks are built with efficient and effective water conservation methods so as to reduce evaporation and an excellent source of water for irrigation. Interestingly, these tanks can hold large amount of water almost up till 15,000 liters.
Thusitha Kumara residing in Andaragasya GN division of Hambantota is a father of three and earns his living from a small tea shop.  He was motivated to pick up home gardening to add on to his income and cope up with the rising expenses of his family.  However, the drought climatic condition of the area acted as a dampener to his plans as invariably this district experiences drought for almost 4-5 months of the year. The only alternative left with him was to purchase water to tide over this drought phase, bearing a cost of LKR 1000/ per water bowser (approximately 5000 liters), which was way beyond his means.
This is when he heard about the technology promoted by Practical Action and Sarvodaya, and he lapped up the idea of having a Runoff rain water harvesting tank in his back yard.  To his good fortune, his backyard has plenty of space for both-a tank (15,000 liters) and for home gardening.  With the assistance of the project – Strengthening resilience in tsunami affected communities; a tank was built incurring an expense of 70,000 LKR in July 2008.
To use water efficiently from the Run off rain water harvesting tank, Pitcher Irrigation method was introduced.  In this irrigation technique unglazed clay pots are placed next to the plant on the ground and water gradually seeps from the pot into the ground.  To the relief of Mr Kumara, the pitcher only needs to be refilled with water almost once a week, giving him ample of time to concentrate on his tea shop. And, it also saves 90% of water over traditional irrigation practices.  So, for a backyard gardening project around 6- 10 litre pots were sufficient to grow most of the crops.
When the writer of this case study visited the site; Thusitha featured in the photograph demonstrated how this method works.  Firstly, he explained about the perennial crops he had chosen for gardening. He had planted guava, which fetch good price and are often marketed as “super fruits”, being rich in vitamins A and C and pomegranates which have a good source of vitamin B5.  He mentioned that these plants need to be taken care of (closely) for 2 years and thereafter, plants can tolerate harsh situations.
To his relief, the pitcher method saves the water and time involved in watering the plants.  Thusitha states that the time factor is very important for him as he has to attend to his tea shop as well.  He hopes to reap a rich harvest of fruits in two years time, which will make him earn an additional income and have fresh fruits for consumption.
King Parakramabahu’s advice of storing every drop of water for the purpose of the mankind is aptly being practiced through Runoff Rain Water Harvesting tank at least for Thusitha.

Tags: Rainwater Harvesting

Contact Us

Janathakshan Project

Practical Action Regional Office (Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan),

No 05, Lionel Edirisinghe Mawatha,

Colombo-5, Sri Lanka.


Tel : 94-11-2829412

Fax : 94-11-2856188

Email :