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St Elizabeth Communities
Rose Hall (Rose Hill)
Two Mile Wood
Rain Water Harvesting
In some communities across Jamaica the collection, storage, proper management and efficient usage of rain water (Rain Water Harvesting) is a long standing practice. Some households reap partial success for their efforts and find themselves without water in the middle of droughts due to insufficient storage capacity. While those who enjoy full success are spared the agony of water shortages. This process is definitely one of the solutions to the recurring water woes faced by many Jamaicans in prolonged periods without rainfall. As fashionable and new as the phrase Rain Water Harvesting may sound, there is nothing new about the concept. It has been the way of life for many Jamaicans of modest means, some of whom despite living in areas that are among the first to be affected when the rain stays away have never been adversely affected by any drought.
One such person is Mrs Casmin Hill, an elderly widow residing in the drought prone parish of St. Elizabeth. Remarkably her little village, located on the out skirts of Santa Cruz is pipe-less and has no natural water source. Yet, she has never experienced water shortages at her home for more than half century. She collects all that she can on the rainy days in preparation for the sunny ones.
Mrs Hill explained that it was the forward thinking and action of her late husband Mr. Clifford Hill that has given them domestic water independence and security for the entire duration of their union. This includes raising seven children, hosting family reunions, yearly Christmas gatherings, and other family related water consuming activities etc.
The Hills have always had water to meet their needs 'come rain or shine' and a little to spare their friends and neighbours during droughts including the ongoing one.
She recalled that during a period of drought many years ago her tank reached an alarmingly low level but thanks be to God she said rain saved the day. One other concern that she recounted was when there was a leak a little above the half way mark of the tank, this she presumed was caused by a blast from mining activity in the area.
The beauty of it all she said "One good heavy shower of rain full up the tank. Sometimes in the middle of the drought we get a one shower and the tank just full up again"
She also explained and manually demonstrated how the water was retrieved in the old days (see video) and that with the help of her children, the system was modernized a few years ago and ever since she has water flowing through pipes in her house all year long.
One of the Hill's daughters shared the story that she had learnt about the history of the tank along with her own experiences. In her narrative, she pointed out that her father bought the land to build his house in the 1940s but actually built the water catchment and storage area first. When he finally built the house, he channeled every drop of rain water from the roof through zinc gutters into the tank. She said they did not have to pay for water and she had no personal experience of water shortage until she migrated to Kingston and lived in a home where they had to pay for the precious commodity.
Mrs Hill explains the workings of her water system
When the rain fall it falls on everyone's housetop (Bob Marley). Accordingly this solution has the potential to be the game changer that we seek to combat droughts and bring about water independence and security for a lot of people.
Sometimes the solutions to some of Jamaica's major problems are right under wi nose. Rain water harvesting is commonly practiced in many down scale rural communities. Believe it or not the authorities are aware of these solutions so your guess is as good as mine as to why dem nuh run wid it.
The water source is guaranteed for every roof. So catch it, store it and manage it like the Hill's, and you too can be free from water bills and water woes.
Mrs Hill demonstrates how it was in the old days.