The Soft Foot Alliance has introduced the rainwater Jar to our community as part of the evolution of our permaculture strategy. ‘Catch and store energy’ is one of the permaculture principles that we use to design our work towards building a landscape of regeneration. Homesteads and families that have been learning about permaculture and applying regenerative techniques in their homes and villages receive a rainwater jar as a gift to recognize their hard work and to help to continue improving their lives and landscapes.
Local builders have been trained on how to build simple rainwater jars that collect 3500 litres of water from the roof of a small house. We can honestly say that the community is so excited about this and we can’t keep up with the demand! During a storm precious water rushes off of roofs and causes erosion. Using gutters to catch every drop of this into a rainwater jar improves a family’s access to water both for household use and to help with growing food in a small area.
The jar is built by filling a form made of canvas with sand* then chicken-wire is wrapped around it to make the shape of the jar. A thin cement plaster is then applied to the outside and after a few days the sand and form are taken out and the inside is plastered. This uses very little materials and is easy to build and maintain.
As with all our projects, we support local skills development and capacity building, ensuring income generation for the communities that live with wildlife. The first builders were trained by a water harvesting expert. The gutters are made either by local tin Smith’s with sheet metal or by the builders also using chicken wire and plaster.
*We found an easier fill material than sand to be something lighter that still holds the shape, recycling plastic bottles works really well!
The land is the biggest store of water, for this to happen the soil needs to be thriving. Each drop of rain then soaks into the ground, when landscapes are bare and degraded the rain rushes far away taking any soil that is left along with it.
All actions that we work on are about healing the land, so that the water cycle can meet the needs of all life on this landscape. It is the foundation for every living thing and so the foundation of our work.
Holistic grazing, permaculture design and actions all work towards this restoration and regeneration. There are actions that are help to catch water in the bare hard and eroded landscape whilst the soil is being healed.
Gabions slow water down in erosion gullies so that this can infiltrate into the land.
Contour swales catch rainwater on sloping land so that the water sinks in.
There is something deeply gratifying in knowing these actions replenish the water table and can bring us towards the dream of flowing rivers and abundant landscapes.