Checking a rainwater harvesting system in Senegal, by IRHA and the Association for the Promotion of Agroforestry and Forestry (APAF) (photo: IRHA/APAF).
The International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance (IRHA) is a Swiss-based nongovernmental organization established in 2002. The mandate of IRHA is to promote rainwater harvesting as an effective and sustainable solution in the face of water scarcity, and to increase the resilience of human communities to the risk of natural hazards, such as floods and droughts.
With a mantra of ‘Harvesting blue gold’ – either through relatively simple household water storage infrastructure or, at a larger scale, through catching and managing rainfall and runoff on fields and open landscapes into the subsurface or in community ponds – IRHA has worked to enhance water security and resilience for disadvantaged urban and rural communities around the world. One important aspect of IRHA’s work is the close engagement with stakeholders, be they farmers, urban communities or schools.
With specific reference to applying the principles of groundwater-based natural infrastructure, IRHA works at a landscape level to enhance water retention, groundwater recharge and soil moisture in an integrated process. This process is aimed at greening and restoring degraded drylands for the benefit of smallholder farmers (e.g., in the Sahel), and maintaining springs in mountainous catchments and supporting communities (e.g., in Nepal). The approaches used by IRHA increasingly build on knowledge of rainfall, extreme weather events such as floods and droughts, and many other parameters integrated in cartography and geographic information systems. This knowledge is used to support the better siting of field interventions, optimization of investments, and an increase in the long-term impacts.
IRHA is exiting the Groundwater Solutions Initiative for Policy and Practice (GRIPP), leaving behind strong footprints from working on supporting water security and resilience among poor communities. We wish IRHA good luck in their endeavors going forward!