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Innovative smart phone app to improve rainwater harvesting in Africa

It is now possible to calculate the amount of rainwater that can be harvested from the roof of houses thanks to a new smart phone app developed by UN Environment and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.  
The app, a first of its kind, is based on actual meteorological data collected from weather stations across Africa. The data is specific to locations closest to the weather stations, which the app presents as the nearest city. 
Promoting rainwater harvesting is becoming increasingly important to ensure greater water security. It offers an adaptation strategy to climate change, providing an opportunity to store rainwater under increasing conditions of high rainfall variability.   
Rainwater harvesting can also improve livelihoods of women and children by reducing time spent on fetching water: women still spend 16 million hours a day collecting water in 25 sub-Saharan countries.
 It can improve household sanitation and health with an improved drinking water source. Rainwater harvesting also contributes to food security, providing water during dry seasons for small-scale agriculture. Although not every single drop of rain can and should be harvested, rainwater is still an underutilized water source in Africa.
 The lack of water is a real challenge across Africa. On average, a person needs eight glasses of water (2 liters) per day. According to the Vital Water Graphics report by UN Environment and GRID Arendal, “more than 2.8 billion people in 48 countries will face water stress or water scarcity conditions by 2025. An area is experiencing water stress when annual water supplies drop below 1700 m3 per person”. 
In many such countries, rainwater can be harnessed easily for domestic and agricultural use. Harvested rainwater can also benefit the environment and ecosystem when used to enhance groundwater recharge and restore vegetative cover. The low cost of rainwater harvesting technologies can be a more attractive investment option in rural areas compared to investing in a main water supply system.   

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