Each year La Gonave receives six to 10 feet of rainfall, rain which makes gardens grow and restores underground aquifers. Much of this free freshwater, however, is lost to runoff down to the sea.
But there is a 4-month dry season every year on La Gonave (December-March), times when home gardens go die out and livestock gets skinny. In recent years, we have experienced 5-6 month dry seasons which, needless to say, has caused both a nutritional and economic hardship in this already-hungry place.
What if we could resource families to catch and store enough rainwater during the wet season to tide them over the dry season?
Our first step toward this vision has been to install rainwater catchment systems in Life Garden and at Makochon’s new school. The 12,000 gallons of water in the school’s cistern will be plenty of water to sustain the school’s garden and trees. So far, we have 8,000 gallons of rainwater cisterns at Life Garden. When dry times come, Life Garden will continue to nurture young trees for future planting.
Phase one of our “Rainwater Harvesting” vision is to see every large building on the island (schools, churches, etc.) storing water harvested from its roof. Phase two of our vision is to see small rainwater cisterns next to every home, storing the free freshwater that drops to its roof during the rainy season.
Every gallon of caught rainwater is a gallon that does not have to be fetched from a distant source, and so it stands to reason that catching rain can free up children to attend school and parents to attend to other important tasks.