Is Rainwater Harvesting a Solution for Water Access in Latin America and the Caribbean?: An Economic Analysis for Underserved Households in El Salvador

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Rovira, Carolina;
Sánchez-Masferrer, Manuel;
Rovira, María Dolores
Sep 2020
This paper assesses the potential of rainwater harvesting systems (RHS) as an option to expand water access, increase equity and address increasing pollution of surface and ground water resources in Latin America. The paper focuses on the case of El Salvador because it is one of the most pressed countries in terms of water scarcity and pollution of water resources. Other issues include regulation, inefficiency in operation, inadequate cost recovery and lack of investment, challenges generated by climate change and greater citizen pressure for the guarantee of the right to water. The paper develops a model for rainwater harvesting using country-specific environmental and financial variables including rainfall patterns, consumption and alternative water sources. A cost-benefit analysis is performed across several scenarios, concluding that RHS offer a cleaner and less expensive source of water for households not connected to the water grid, or for those that due to poor service must purchase some water. Communal systems prove to be more efficient than individual installation in some cases. RHS also offer positive impacts on equity and hold the potential to be a solution for water access for underserved households.