Project Tatirano, Madagascar

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Project Tatirano, Madagascar: Developing a culture of rainwater harvesting to improve clean water supply

Fort Dauphin, Madagascar
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Tatirano, meaning "to collect water" in Malagasy, is piloting rainwater harvesting (RWH) on a rural village school roof as a means of providing clean drinking water to the students. It is demonstrating to the community a simple, affordable and replicable technique of obtaining clean water from rain.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if thousands of lives AND 5 hours a day could be saved simply by collecting rain?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

11.7 million people in Madagascar do not have clean drinking water resulting in 4,000 childhood deaths due to diarrhoea each year. In the southeast (SE), communities rely on often broken and dirty wells and contaminated rivers whilst > 81% of the population live on < $1.90 per day (the international poverty line) and state capacity is non-existent after years of instability.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

To construct, monitor and evaluate a pilot system to collect and store rainwater from a school roof in a rural village called Sainte Luce for students’ drinking water. The simplicity of the system is conducive to household replication and thus eventually establishing a RWH culture in the region. This will provide a water source of improved quality at the homestead and alleviate pressure on existing sources, whilst also saving time not collecting water from faraway sources. The second phase will involve the design of a household setup in a kit that can be purchased by families to retrofit on their palm frond-built roofs. Funding will be sourced for the scale-up to provide means-tested subsidies on the kits to reach the poorest families.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

In Ambandrika, all water sources available to the community have a high count of faecal coliforms. One of the two wells is broken and the other is under severe demand, whilst the 2nd and 3rd choice forest streams are hours away. The average time taken per day to collect water for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd choices are 21 minutes, 3 hours 44 minutes and 6 hours 10 minutes respectively. The region receives approximately 1500 mm of rainfall annually yet RWH is not common practice. Between 2001 - 2004 a project in Kusa, Kenya facilitated the construction of 311 tanks through subsidies that allow people, especially women, time to pursue entrepreneurial and educational activities. There is HUGE potential to replicate this success in SE Madagascar.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The current project provides clean drinking water for 143 school children plus the 4 teachers and the directress of the school. The school children will receive a water bottle for each of them to be able to take clean water home as well as enjoying it at the school. Five minutes following the completion of the guttering on one side (and having previously installed the clean, pre-galvanised metal roofing) it rained at a medium intensity and water streamed off the end in huge volumes. So significant was this rainfall event that people stopped collecting water from the bacteria laden well water 18 m at the other end of the building and started queuing to collect water from the roof. Whilst the completed system will only be used by the school for the students, this immediate behavioural change strongly suggests a massive potential impact in facilitating households to have their own systems.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

In 5 years everyone in Sainte Luce (2500+ people) could have access to 100% of their clean drinking water needs through RWH systems; in 10 – 15 years the successful replication of the model across the region, by instilling a culture of RWH, could reach more than 250,000 people. This ambitious yet possible target would be achieved by training and supporting local committees to install systems using locally available materials. These groups will use their new skills to provide a service to others, enabling a positive multiplier effect towards health, socio-economic and developmental benefits.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

External funding will partially subsidise early scale up plans until widespread confidence in the approach is achieved, after which households will fund the systems themselves. Local investment will instil ownership and responsibility, ensuring sustainability of both the performance of systems and RWH installation/consultancy as a profitable profession; training in installing and maintaining RWH systems could create new employment opportunities.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

RWH has been completely neglected by the few organisations operating in SE Madagascar. Collaborations with experienced regional specialists (such as SEED Madagascar and Azafady NGO), will enable sharing of expertise and resources to ensure effective and efficient implementation. Existing water provision projects focus mainly on wells; although effective to a degree, many of these are easily broken or contaminated. The simplicity of RWH encourages system longevity and local involvement through avoiding intimidatingly complex ideas in both installation and maintenance.

Founding Story

In 2011, aged 18, Harry volunteered in a remote rural village in SE Madagascar on a conservation programme and washed in smelly red well water. One night Harry unwittingly left his empty bucket outside in the rain and awoke to a quarter-full bucket of what seemed to be the clearest water he had ever seen – cue light bulb moment! The region receives huge volumes of rain annually yet nobody collects it for drinking. Harry designed a pilot RWH scheme for the school building in the village for his undergraduate thesis and after receiving great interest from the village chief and elders, decided to seek funding and begin the daunting task of instilling a RWH culture in Madagascar!


The project is managed by Harry and supported by a regional specialist development and conservation charity called SEED Madagascar (formerly Azafady UK) and a local Malagasy NGO called Azafady. As the project moves past the pilot phase and secures funding for the scale up, a second full-time member of the team will be sought in order to expand Project Tatirano’s scope and reach more people with clean drinking water.