Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."

Rainwater for Humanity

Project #
Brown University
  • Christina Tang

The Kuttanad region of India is located in the heavily populated state of Kerala and, despite abundant rainfall, faces an increasing scarcity of potable water, due in large part to the pollution of surface and groundwater. Water scarcity leads to disease, increased labor for women, and a heavy economic burden for households. Christina Tang thought to introduce effective and affordable rainwater harvesting for Kuttanad with goals to improve community health, empower women, and build local capacities for project organizing.

During two previous trips to India, Christina conducted a study of water quality through interviews with nearly 100 families, and helped establish a local steering committee eager to take on management responsibilities of rainwater harvesting. Back at school, Christina partnered with fellow Brown students, members of the Brown chapter of Engineers Without Borders, and students from the Rhode Island School of Design to conceive prototypes of rainwater harvesting structures.

With the Projects for Peace grant secured, Christina and several other Brown students traveled to Kuttanad and started the actual construction of the first prototype rainwater harvesting system. This will provide clean drinking and cooking water for approximately 80 villagers for 20 to 50 years, the estimated lifespan of the system. Plans are underway for the next harvesting system, to be built soon. As the systems are designed to be easily replicated and more than 90% of the local population support rainwater harvesting, this project will have long-ranging impact on communities for years to come.