Sponge City: resilient cities, urban planning and catchment risk assessment


Sponge city Kajiado: The overarching goal of the programme is to alleviate water scarcity in Kajiado Town through the creation of a sponge city. A sponge city holds, cleans and drains water in a natural way using measures that fall broadly under the 3R approach. A sponge city also creatively adjusts the environmental flows to increase investment in sustainable water and decrease pollution of the towns resource.

Goals and results

  • Goal is to have urban recharge established as a proven concept and method, divided in two results (outcomes):
    • The sponge city model is known, applied, promoted and brought to scale: proof of concept
    • The people of Kajiado have an increased availability of good quality, affordable water.

Main activities in the inception phase:

  • Pilots (showing the feasibility of the approach), mapping and assessments (of hydrogeology, drainage, sanitation, as well as the local social and governmental environment)
  • Verification, holistic planning (based on pilot results, mapping and assessments), agreements with partners and stakeholders, mobilization of community groups

In the implementation phase:

  • establishment of recharge zones / parks,
  • construction of roof water tanks and water infiltration at household level,
  • constructions of weirs, ponds, plugs,
  • Capacity development of masons (in building affordable roof water harvesting tanks)
  • Strategy formulation on water abstraction at alternative sites (with rechargeable water)
  • Strategy formulation on water quality and sanitation: reducing infiltration of sewage and other pollutions like rubbish blocking drains, construction of wetlands
  • Monitoring and evaluation (focusing on environmental, social, technical and business aspects), communication (both internally and externally)


Magepanda: catchment risk assessment and catchment management planning


The Dagesime Magepanda Catchment (DAS) is located on Flores Island in Indonesia Nusa Tenggara Timur Province. In this project the cause of current flooding, reduced water availability and proposes mitigations and strategies for lobby and advocacy at the level of the local government were addressed. The report was the final outcome of an field assessment in which all relevant stakeholders in the area were interviewed and opportunities within the landscape were identified with help of focus group discussions.

Goals and results

To be able to address the identified problems, RAIN emphasized to adapt a catchment approach, an approach which looks at the connections between upstream and downstream linkages, but also hilly and flatland, irrigated and slash and burn agriculture. Four different landscape zones were demarcated and described to show how the problems in the catchment were connected. RAIN advised the client on performing catchment planning, reinforcement of legislation and incentives for people to implement 3R measures (or water buffering options) to improve the water balance.

The organization, planning and management of these interventions should be in the hand of a catchment management platform which consists of stakeholders from the whole catchment. During the project first activities were completed to establish such an organization. Thematic maps were used to describe the current situation and to access the need for possible mitigations.


3R in Bangladesh : Research on the potential of water recharge, retention and reuse options to enhance fresh water availability in Bangladesh


Dry season in Bangladesh causes water crisis

In Bangladesh due to high salinity in surface and groundwater, people are facing acute water crisis in many areas of the coastal region and hence, are looking for alternatives. To address the water crisis in this region, where rainfall is abundant, 3R options (water recharge, retention and reuse) are often thought as a potential solution. 3R options can increase water storage capacity and improve water availability throughout the season.

How to enhance water availability through 3R options?

While several 3R options (groundwater recharge, soil moisture storage, closed storage tanks and open surface reservoirs), have been used under different projects in Bangladesh to address the water scarcity, the applications are often constrained by a number of factors, including lack of information on technologies, limited skills, lack of research and lack of awareness. Therefore, research is needed in order to facilitate the utilization of 3R options and to encourage investment decisions towards effective and efficient use of the water resources. This will enable people residing in the vulnerable regions of the country to have access to water. Hence, a study was carried out focusing on assessing the 3R options (including rainwater harvesting) in Bangladesh, especially in rural areas of the coastal region. The study addresses the water management issues as well as recommendations for scaling up existing practices. Reports and publications on previous research and development projects carried out by WASH organizations/researchers were studied. In addition, field visits were conducted to assess the current condition of the different 3R options and to gather feedback from beneficiaries. The study also took support from sector professionals to identify the challenges and draft recommendations. The FIETS (Financial, Institutional, Environmental, Technological and Social) sustainability criteria approach of WASH Alliance International was used in the study in assessing the sustainability of the 3R options in the study areas.

How to sustain 3R interventions in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh there is potential for scaling up of the options of water recharge, retention and reuse to address the challenge of water availability and to improve use of the abundant rainfall in the dry period. To make the best use of the available 3R options and to be sure that implementation of systems is sustainable, the following areas need to be emphasized: develop a mechanism for financial sustainability, include an institutional approach, perform site specific research and enhance awareness raising activities in user groups and local and regional capacity building on 3R options. While some of the 3R interventions have been found very popular in many areas of the coastal region, its applicability could be enhanced within and outside the existing areas through strong collaboration among government, its development partners and local communities to improve the water supply system in coastal region of Bangladesh.

Goals and results

RAIN, with funding of the WASH Alliance International, initiated an in-country study, to understand the context of coastal region in relation to water supply systems, identifying main challenges in bringing 3R options into practices, the benefits and sustainability of such practices, and potential for scaling up of the 3R options in Bangladesh. RAIN was responsible for ToR preparation, contracting, technical guidance to the research, peer-review of report, workshop facilitation, evaluation of research, reporting and follow-up. The local research was done by Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (ITN-BUET).

Learning Financial Sustainability – landscape canvas


Business cases offer great opportunities to realise access to water, while at the same time help restoring or conserving landscapes. But how to (locally) finance WASH services in landscape programmes? And how to provide solutions and mechanisms that are able to scale up? The Finance & Business Case approach helps to answer these questions and offers tangible tools and methods to create a workable approach that focuses on local financial sustainability. The business case of land and water, aims to increase the appreciation, valuation and monetisation of natural resources by the market. Also, as private businesses play an important role in markets, this approach will lead to engagement of the private sector in land and water management activities on the ground. This is where RAINs Finance & Business Case approach comes in.

Application of the WASH business case development toolkit results in more promising concept notes, increased financial sustainability and acceleration of your funding procedures. At the same time the toolkit triggers you to include environmental sustainable interventions in the plan, instead of planning for depletion of natural resources, like water and soil. Looking from a business perspective, landscape can add value to its users in many different ways. To integrate this into WASH development and programmes, we developed the Finance & Business case approach. The approach helps developing countries to get out of poverty, connecting them to global markets and boost sustainable (economic) growth. The publication explains all about the business case for land & water, together with tools as our landscape canvas, value proposition and client(s) and landscape selection methods. Businesses will need to recognise the interdependency between the state natural resources are in, and business results and continuity. By adopting such an approach, we canvas understand.


The WASH Alliance International (WAI) has setup a learning and innovation program in 2016. RAIN, as part of Aidenvironment, lead the financial sustainability track and developed innovative tools for business case development in landscape projects aiming for landscape conservation and restoration.

Services provided by RAIN:

  1. Providing a practical research on landscape programs and landscape business involvement
  2. Communication of study results in internal (WASH Alliance) and external (World Water Week) events.
  3. Interviews within WASH Alliance to identify gaps in business case development within WASH projects.
  4. Identifying and evaluating promising landscape projects in developing countries.
  5. Setting up and testing a toolkit to help improve business case development within landscape projects (landscape and client selection and value proposition development).

The project has delivered 3 publications after a study on business cases within landscape projects:

    • The business case of Land and Water;
    • Finance for Land and Water;
    • Background information and case studies


Environmental sustainability of WASH programs



While we make sure current generations can increasingly make use of safe WASH facilities and services supply, we mustn’t forget about future generations. This means that the only way to set up sustainable water and sanitation, is doing so without degrading the environment. This approach takes into account the mutual interdependence between the ecosystem and the community. It therefore looks for environmentally sustainable solutions, making sure the E of our FIETS approach is covered. In creating safe and sustainable WASH for all, it is really important to keep the environment healthy for its residents.

It is easy to forget about the worth of water, until the well is dry. The guiding principle in the Environmental Sustainability approach is that water, land and other resources are part of one single ecosystem and cannot be dealt with separately. A mind shift is needed for most stakeholders, to make this an integral part of our thinking. By approaching WASH programmes from the environmental angle, you will secure the availability of water in the long term. Therefore, understanding relevant environmental aspects is crucial for any WASH programming and should be performed at all levels.

In case you observe that awareness and capacity need to be built, then RAINs training-of-trainer package on environmental sustainability in WASH is a great way to show people how the environment works, but also how its environmental services can be used to sustain your WASH services. The training-of-trainers manual for WASH programme planning is central, but the toolkit also contains field exercises, tools for visualising and an e-sustainability interactive manual to ensure an environmental sustainability approach.

Goals and results

The WASH Alliance International (WAI) has setup a learning and innovation program in 2016. RAIN, as part of Aidenvironment, lead the environmental sustainability track to build capacity of partners and to develop an approach aiming for environmental sustainability in WASH programming. Services provided by RAIN:

  • Country study providing an overview of available cases, tools and partner capacity and identifying potential catchments and applicable tools.
  • Setting up environmental sustainability training programs in Kenya, Ethiopia and Nepal, including environmental risk assessments and field visits showing best-practices.
  • Setting up a training package for trainers to integrate WASH program planning in Integrated Water Resource Management planning. Presentation and communication of training module.



2017p-Factsheet finance WASH programs

2017p-Factsheet How to ensure enviornmental sustainability of WASH programs

2017p-The Business Case of Land and Water (leaflet SIWW)