EnterpriseWorks/VITA (EWV) has announced a five-year, $4.1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop and test a market-based approach for the introduction of low-cost, domestic rainwater-harvesting systems that would provide drinkable water to areas in need of potable water.
Awarded as part of the foundation's global development program, the grant will be used to conduct a year-long, twenty-country study of past usages of rainwater harvesting and current technological innovations, enabling EWV to learn more about the market's needs and design a product to meet them. During the second phase of the project, EWV will implement a pilot project to produce and market a prototype system in a selected region.
Rainwater harvesting — the process of collecting runoff from structures and storing it in above- or below-ground vessels — could be a solution for some of the 1.1 billion people worldwide who do not have access to water for drinking and cooking by eliminating the need for costly distribution systems. Despite its potential, currently less than 1 percent of the global population takes full advantage of rainwater harvesting techniques.
"Domestic rainwater harvesting may actually be the only alternative for improving water supplies in some areas," said Don Feil, president and CEO of EWV. "Tapping rain could have a positive impact on people who live in areas with even limited rainfall. This funding will help us to develop opportunities to provide access to safe water closer to people's homes."