International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation

International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation

New potential with bamboo water storage tanks

10 Mar 2013

INBAR Brings New Technology for Bamboo Water Storage Tank Construction to the East African Community

A new alternative for water storage, which uses local bamboo resources, now has the potential to spare women and children in Ethiopia and Nepal hours of collecting and transporting just enough water to live on each day.
In March 2013, the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) successfully completed a project, funded by Environment Canada, to develop new technologies for poor, rural communities in Ethiopia and Nepal.  The new technologies will help transport, filter and store water in these areas using locally available resources. Through the project, INBAR built 5,000L capacity demonstration water storage tanks, which use bamboo as the main structural material.

These tanks are the largest of their kind made with bamboo and can provide income- and employment-generating opportunities to local communities, while also having the long-term potential to help lower the cost of storing water. Using bamboo water storage tanks can lower the cost of water storage by up to 50 percent and 30 percent when compared with concrete and plastic alternatives, respectively, and once properly treated, bamboo storage tanks can last for more than 25 years.

In order to share new findings after completing the project, INBAR led a study tour, which took place from February 14-18, where representatives learned about best practices for bamboo harvesting, treatment and tank construction.  Delegates from Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda came together to share their own work and learn from INBAR and each other.

Making advances of their own, the Kenyan Government’s Water Services Trust Fund (WSTF) had already pioneered a new bamboo design for water kiosks in slum areas of Nairobi.“The tour really shows us the potential bamboo can have in water infrastructure projects,” said Nelson Bosuben, an engineer with WSTF.  “The lessons learned here could apply equally well to the Kenyan context, where we have the same highland bamboo species, but currently lack local capacity to sustainably manage, treat and design with the resources.”

The new water storage tanks will also help decrease the chance of microbial contamination that is usually associated with the daily transport of water for home use.  This will help to greatly lower exposure to water-borne diseases and infections, which would be beneficial to areas outside of Ethiopia and Nepal, as well.

INBAR is now looking to spread the benefits of this project by funding activities that will further the project results not only in Ethiopia and Nepal, but also across the East African and South Asian Regions. For more information on the project, you can also read INBAR’s latest Working Paper 72 publication, “Transporting, Storing, and Filtering Water using Local Resources: A design manual” (available at