Water Conservation and Access with Rainwater Harvesting Implementation


Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA)

Problem Statement

The 2005 earthquake in Pakistan destroyed water supply systems in Kashmir and KPK in addition to altering the water level due to topographical changes, causing a shortage of drinking water supply in the area.

Case Study

Pakistan is feeling the heat of water scarcity with current availability of water standing at 1200 m3 per capita. The vast tracts of land are chronically drought eaten in South Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan whereas disasters such as floods and earthquakes have put a heavy toll on existing water supply and sanitation systems especially in urban areas of the country. In 2005 a major earthquake struck Pakistan which cost 80,000 lives and destroyed water supply systems in Kashmir and KPK while simultaneously altering the water level due to topographical changes. Over 4000 water supply schemes were destroyed in the Earthquake affected areas.

Pakistan’s government took drastic measures to effectively respond to the disaster and the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority was established at the federal level. The authority poured in heavy money and expertise with the aid from the World Bank and other international donors. For rehabilitation of water supply systems, an assessment was made and an innovative new project was launched.

According to calculations, an above average rainfall pattern exists in the affected areas with an average rainfall of 1500 millimeters. Rainwater harvesting has long been used in the area to supplement the regular water supply system. It was decided to revive the system by using new technology and establish rainwater harvesting as an alternative method to resolve drinking water supply issue. The estimates showed that about 140,000 liters of water with 90% efficiency could be collected every year from a 100 square meter rooftop. So, 12,000 Rain Water Harvesting (RWH) Systems were installed on public and private properties in 20 Union Councils of AJ&K and KPK. The installation of RWH systems was made mandatory for all new buildings. The 600,000 seismically safe houses rebuilt in the area also supported the Rain Water Harvesting system, leading to an easy way of collection, management and effective utilization of rain water. The project was a big success and turned out to be the largest public sector project of its kind in the world providing safe drinking water at a minimal cost.

This resulted in water conservation, control of water table depletion and establishment of an alternative and supplementary supply system to fulfill the needs of a growing population. Rainwater harvesting has also benefited women by decreasing their labor to fetch water. Women and school-going girls usually travel long distances to bring drinking water supply home – thus compromising their education in the process. Through the household water supply brought by this system, the labor for housewives decreased substantially. It has also positively affected the school attendance of girls in the area by addressing the issue of lack of useable toilet facilities with running water.

The project is a successful model of community engagement in improving public utilities. Based on this model, Capital Development Authority has started a project in Islamabad’s capital territory to recharge its depleting groundwater. The idea is seriously being considered for replication elsewhere in Pakistan not only to supplement drinking water supply but also to control urban flooding phenomena under unpredictable effects of climate change.

Key Concepts

The rainwater harvesting system has increased the resilience of water supply system in disaster affected areas and can be used as a successful adaptation strategy which did not required foreign funding or transfer of sophisticated technology.

Outcomes & Lessons Learned

Low cost adaptation through community engagement and donor interest


Rainwater, Women’s Emancipation, Pakistan, Earthquake, Conservation, Kashmir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa


Pakistan (Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)


ERRA, Local Community, Governments of AJK and KPK, World Bank

About the Knowledge Platform

The Knowledge Platform is designed to promote and showcase an emerging set of approaches to water resources management that address climate change and other uncertainties -- increasing the use of "bottom-up approaches" through building capacity towards implementation, informing relevant parties, engaging in discussion, and creating new networks. This is an ongoing project of the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA) funded by the World Bank Group.

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Alliance for Global Water Adaptation
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Corvallis, Oregon 97330