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Development of Water Collection and Storage Solution

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Studies
Wordcount: 6298 words Published: 18th May 2020

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Water is one of the most important resources on our planet. All plants and animals must have water to survive. If there was no water, there would be no life on earth. Safe and readily available water is important for public health, whether it is used for drinking, domestic use, food production or recreational purposes. Improved water supply and sanitation, and better management of water resources are important for a country’s economic growth.[1] To sustain life on earth people need to save water for the future. And this is where the concept of ‘Water Storage’ comes into action. Water Storage is a broad term referring to storage of both potable water for consumption, and non-potable water for use in agriculture. In most developing countries and in some of the developed countries found in the tropical climates, there is a need to store water during the dry season. And one of the solutions to this is ‘Rainwater Harvesting’, which is widely being practiced in most low and middle-income countries with adequate safeguards to prevent bacterial and chemical contamination. Proper hygiene, sanitation and the performance and reliability of health facilities can all be compromised due to lack of access to safe, reliable water supply. To address these needs rainwater harvesting can be employed in these regions due to its sustainability, feasibility and socio-economic benefits. It can also help provide employment opportunities and expand current knowledge and skills of the local people.

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Storing water invites a host of potential problems including contamination through organic and inorganic means.Contaminated water can transmit diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio. Contaminated drinking water is estimated to cause almost 485,000 diarrheal deaths each year.[2] For many people clean water is just another thing that they take for granted. When people are thirsty, they turn a tap or open a water bottle to drink water. People wash, clean, flush and bath using clean water without giving it much of a thought. According to a report done by UNICEF on water sanitation, one in three people around the world does not have access to safe, drinking water.[3]Millions of children around the world face illness, exhaustion, and even death simply because they do not have access to clean water. Tragically, many children die from easily preventable waterborne diseases every day. Children – particularly girls are often denied their right to education because most schools lack private and decent sanitation facilities. Many women are forced to spend a significant portion of their day fetching clean, safe water.[4] And therefore, it is important to consider and take adequate filtering and hygiene measures to keep the collected water safe and clean for use.

Rising population contributes to higher demand for fresh water and also contributes to climate change which leads to greater fluctuation of harvested rainwater. Globally, 844 million people lack access to clean drinking water.[5] Every day, over800 children die from dirty water- mainly due to diarrhea caused by contaminated water, poor sanitation and hygiene and due to scarce, unreliable water supply and sanitation facilities in many communities. As a result, many children drop out of school and parents struggle to make a living. Access to clean water is a huge step towards development as when people gain access to safe water, they are better able to practice good hygiene and sanitation, which results in greater socio-economic status for the country.

The aim of this project is to develop an ideal water collection and storage system that can operate in the Timor-Leste to improve the lives of people in the communities of across Suco Holarua. Suco Holarua has recently seen significant progress in the area of water access. This improvement is due to a series of water systems supported by WaterAid, LBF, government programs such as the PNDS and others. Many of the systems in Suco Holarua, and across Timor-Leste, are gravity flow design, meaning they do not require any external energy source to move water from a source to a user. These have been very effective and currently the majority of aldeias in Holarua either have access to piped water from these schemes or access to rivers. Most households will store water in their home in small tanks or jerry cans. In addition to household uses including drinking, washing, and cooking, water from the water supply systems is also used in some locations for watering gardens and maintaining fishponds. The current water quality supplied in the settlements is limited to essential levels to allow survival. Additional quality would allow the residents to become more socially active and improve their health at the same time. This project will focus on increasing rainwater collection, storage and clean water supply. The collection system must satisfy several criteria and allow the communities to operate and maintain the system independent of expert assistance on a daily basis.

1.1. EWB Challenge

Engineers Without Borders is a member-based, community organization who are focused on developing skills, knowledge and appropriate engineering through partnership and collaboration to people and communities in need. EWB connect, educate and empower people through humanitarian engineering that uses a people centered, strength-based approach to improve community health, wellbeing and opportunity.[6] EWB focuses on long term community development and empowerment and the plans implemented are community based where the local community work closely with the organization in identifying and addressing their problems and help work out a solution and carry them out. The main aim of the organization is to provide and improve four major areas of life- Water, Hygiene and Sanitation, Appropriate Housing, Clean Energy and Digital Access, for communities, to create a better life for them. The vision of EWB is to be able to provide everyone with equal access to engineering knowledge and tools required to lead a resourceful life, free from poverty. The communities in developing countries require increased and improved access to engineering skills, knowledge and appropriate technology. The local engineering sectors must also be encouraged and helped to come up with innovative and sustainable ideas and solutions for their community problems and needs. EWB realizes and addresses all these needs through their Engineering with Communities, Education and Research and Leadership and Training programs.

The EWB Challenge is a program designed for primary year university students, delivered in partnership with universities around the world. It provides students with the opportunity to grow and learn about design, teamwork and communication through real, inspiring, and culturally diverse developmental projects.[7] Every year, EWB will select a specific disadvantaged community to work with that could benefit from humanitarian engineering and provide first year university students with information about this region and the challenges they face. Students can choose a topic to work with from a range of issues, which the local community have identified to improve their lives. Students are to come up with design solutions that are simple, cost effective and are easy to be locally manufactured, implemented, operated and maintained by the local communities. The best designs are then chosen, discussed and presented to the communities, to then be implemented with their consent and participation.

This year, EWB has partnered with Water-Aid in Timor Leste to help the communities come up with effective solutions for problems related to water supply and scarcity, electricity supply, hygiene and sanitation, waste management and road maintenance, across Suco Holarua, in the Manufahi District of Timor Leste. Suco Holarua and most of Timor Leste has recently witnessed significant changes in areas such energy access, water supply, and road networks. While the development is still in their primary stages, these initial infrastructure improvements are enabling an increase in community opportunity, sustainability, and well-being, as well as the inclusion of all individuals in project planning and outcomes.[8] The subtopic this project will research is Water Collection and Storage, particularly for the dry season, as the people in Timor Leste suffer from drought and water scarcity when there is no rain which adversely affects their living, agriculture and farming, which being one of their main sources of income and thus, affecting the quality of their life.












The Democratic Republic of Timor Leste, also known as East Timor, is a South-East Asian nation located at the east of Timor Island, approximately 700 kilometers northwest of the Australian city of Darwin[1]. The map of Timor-Leste is shown in Figure 1.1 (a). The island covers an area of 15,000 km2 . It is situated next to Indonesia, which lies to the west of the island (timorleste.tl,2019).  The state is divided into 13 districts, including the Manufahi district. Each district is divided into sub-districts and further classified into ‘suku’ or villages which comprise of many hamlets called ‘aldeias’. The capital of East Timor is Dili (timor-leste.gov.tl,2019). The ewb challenge of 2019 focuses on the rural development in the Manufahi district (Figure 1.1 (b)) and Suco Holarua (Figure 2.2) in particular (ewbchallenge.org,2019). Holarua is 109 km south of Dili. The closest airport, President Nicolau Lobato International Airport, Díli, is 112km north of Holarua.

(a)                                                                                  (b)

Figure 1.1. (a) Location of Timor Leste on Timor Island1.

(b)Location of Manufahi District in Timor Leste2.

Figure 1.2. Location of Holarua in Manufahi District3.




3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sucos_of_East_Timor#/media/File:Sucos_Manufahi.png



East Timor has two distinct seasons in a year: a dry season and a wet season. The dry season starts from June and ends in November, whereas the wet season is from December to May. The district of Manufahi has a tropical climate and there are heavy downpours most of the year. The West Pacific Monsoon winds are responsible for bringing rainfall to the area during the wet season. The mean rainfall and the mean temperature during a year in Same (the district capital of Manufahi) is 2328mm and 24.30C respectively. September is the driest month with an average of 22mm of rainfall and the highest average rainfall recorded (331mm) is in the month of January. This data is supported in Fig.2. (en.climate-data.org,201X). Due to cyclic phenomena called El Niño-Southern Oscillation and the Indian Ocean Dipole, the climatic conditions in East Timor varies dramatically, leading to either floods and landslides or droughts affecting most of the population (pacificclimatechangescience.org,2013).

Figure 2. The annual rainfall and temperature in Same.


Most of the landscape consists of mountain ranges and the highest mountain in the nation is Foho Tatamailau reaching 2,963m at its peak.

The traditional houses in Timor Leste are made of wood and thatch. Some houses are made on stilts and are called Fataluku (Fig.3.1.). The other houses are built at ground level like in Figure 3.2. and Fig.3.3.

Fig.3.1. AFataluku house          Fig.3.2. A lopo                                  Fig.3.3. A Bunak

2.4 Health

Beginning at birth there is a life expectancy of 68.7 years (67.1 age for males and 70.4 age for females). The population have access to basic free health care services; however, the wealthier people access hospital care at nearly twice the rate of poorer patients. The basic packages that are offered for free mainly attends to communicable disease control, maternal and child heath, non-communicable disease control and health promotion. Despite the current health care services there is still issues such infant and maternal mortality rates being very high as well as issues with malaria, TB, diarrhoea, and pneumonia. Timor-Leste has one of the highest rates of women dying from pregnancy and childbirth in Asia. There is limited access to clean water and basic sanitation which contributes to the spread of infectious diseases which can be fatal. Sexually transmitted diseases are also common in sexually active age groups, this is mostly in Dili and the Baucau districts. In remote areas supply of medication is a major issue, particularly where they go without hospitals and where medical supplies are only available at health posts or community health centres.







2.5 Income

The prevalence of farming in the area is discussed in some detail on the climate resilience pagebut the short answer is yes!:



There is  a good amount of socio-economic data to a degree of granulairty which should allow you to make an approximation of average income for Holaruans available through the Timorese statistics website.







2.6 Demographics

Ethnicity: The main ethnic groups in Timor-Leste are the Malayo-Polynesian and the Melanesian/Papuan. There are six distinct tribes of the Malayo-Polynesians and they are the Tetun, the Mambae, the Tududede, the Galoli, the Kemak, and the Baikeno. The main tribes of the Melanesian/Papuan people are they Bunak, the Fataluku and the Makasae. http://www.easttimorgovernment.com/demographics.htm

Religion: The Dominant religion is Roman Catholic at a staggering 97.6% of the population engaging. There is then 3.4% that attributes to Protestant/Evangelical, Muslim and other. The Timorese people maintain a strong belief in animism. “Animism is the belief that all nature is alive and filled with unseen spirits”. The constitution provides freedom of conscience, religion and worship. There is no official religion.



Language: The official languages that are spoken are Tetun and Portuguese with a majority of 30.6% speaking Tetun Prasa. The working languages are Indonesian and English, however there are 32 indigenous languages spoken. Originally the Timorese people spoke Portuguese until Indonesia invaded the country in 1975. The Portuguese language was prohibited from being used for about 24 years until 1999. Timor-Leste gained independence from Indonesia in 2002 where finally Tetum and Portuguese were adopted as the official languages. http://www.easttimorgovernment.com/demographics.htmhttps://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/tt.html








Tetum is a blend of Portuguese, malay and indigenous (rather than specifically Indonesian) languages. The language is relatively consistent within suco holarua but does vary more at the district level. This page contains more on the different languages and there’s a fair bit of literature that hsould be available through your library if you’re curious to know more!


The only data we would have in addition to what you can find in the national census aside from the data for Mankaet in the community insights resources. That shows that the community has  similar profile to the national average ie a skew towards the younger age bands.


Thanks for your question, the community isn’t tribal in the way you might be thinking here, and is predominantly Catholic.

Outside of churches there are some sites where independence fighters hid during the struggle for independence, such as cave systems, that contain artifacts that allowed them to continue their observance of Cathaolic practices while in hiding.

If you’re interested there are several unique languages within Timor-Leste which are mapped here which could provide some insight.



3. DESIGN CRITERIA (not finished yet, still need to add more to some parts, proofread and reference correctly)

The design criteria section will analyse the features of designing a water storage/harvesting system that are deemed to be the most important for/to the people of Timor Leste.  It is important to consider the Timor Leste community, and the area that the water system will be used in, when developing the design criteria. This is because the end design should ultimately meet the needs of the Timor Leste community.  Forming design criteria allows individual designs for water storage/harvesting systems to be critically evaluated, weighted and reviewed based on the most important characteristics of the design. Each of the design criteria will be ranked on importance, through being assigned a certain priority, as not every design criterion will be equivalent. Criteria associated to the durability and the cost of the system are given a high priority, whereas criteria related to the volume of water the system can hold are given a lower priority.

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Design criterion 1: Climate resistance: The design must be able to withstand Timor Leste’s wet and dry seasons without requiring any significant repairs. Timor Leste’s harsh climate is split onto a wet season and a dry season.  During the wet season, it rains torrentially, sometimes leading to flash flooding; and the dry season high temperatures and significant amounts of time without rain. Thus, it is essential that the water system can withstand harsh climate conditions, mainly torrential rain and harsh temperatures.

Design criterion 2: Cost: The cost to manufacture and purchase the water system should be considered. Much of the Timor Leste community live off just ___ per day (REFERENCE). Thus, it is important to attempt to keep the cost of the water system as low as possible to ensure that it is affordable for individuals to be able to purchase. Affordability can be considered as how much the community and individuals are able and willing to pay for the water system without great financial pressure.

Design criterion 3: Locally sourced materials: The materials that the water system will be manufactured out of must be considered. The aim is to construct the water system using mostly locally sourced materials, allowing for only 4 components to be sources elsewhere. Locally sources materials can include, but are not limited to; bamboo and other wood; leaves; cloth; clay and dirt; rocks and stones; cement and metals that can be purchased from stores in Dili (https://www.ewb.org.au/explore/initiatives/ewbchallenge/ptl/ptl-design-areas/ptl-infrastructure-construction); plastic bottles; and other recycled materials. Using locally sourced materials will not only encourage buying materials off local farms and businesses, but it can also create jobs for locals. As the materials will be readily available, locals will not have to rely on imported materials to construct the water system, allowing the Timor Leste community to be independent in the construction of the water system once educated and trained to do so. Using locally sourced materials will also result in the design being cheaper to manufacture and construct.

Design criterion 4: Permeability: the final design must not leak. As water is such a precious resource in Timor Leste (https://ewbchallenge.org/1-water-access-and-quality), it is essential to retain as much of it as possible. Thus, if the final water system leaks it is impossible to do so, and the design must be reconsidered.

Design criterion 5: Locally manufactured: The aim is for the community to be completely independent from outside help in the manufacturing and construction of the water system, once educated and trained as required.

Design criterion 6: Ease of use and repair: The water system should be simple to use and easy to repair within 1 day, using the skills available in the Timor Leste community.  Basic training from skilled operators may be required to equip locals with the necessary skills to use and repair the design. Any repairs or maintenance of the design that should be required, should be able to be done so using provided, or locally sourced equipment. It is understood that over 40% of the Timor Leste adult population cannot read or write (https://www.globaleducation.edu.au/2387.html), thus, any manual that should be required, should include pictures. The design should be reparable by locals without aid from higher skilled personnel. It becomes inconvenient for locals when a design cannot be easily repaired in one day, as it can possibly reduce their access to water.

Design criterion 7: Volume: as mentioned before in Design Criteria 1, Timor Leste can go for long periods of time without any rain fall, therefore it is important for the community to have continue to access water during these times. Consequently, it is important for the water system to be able to store large enough amounts of water to be able to last until the next rainfall. It is estimated that locals use ____ daily, and it can rain as little as 30 ml per month in the dry season, thus the water system should be able to store ___ L of water. This design criterion has been ranked as a low priority because locals have access to a communal tap, meaning it isn’t essential for the design to have the ability to store ___L, as there is still some access to water.

Table 3.1 shows the design criteria for a water storage/harvesting system. Each criterion is numbered from one to seven to allow easy referral throughout the report. Each criterion is also ranked in terms of their priority, with essential at the top of the table, to low priority at the bottom. Due to Timor Leste having a harsh climate, the design must be robust and durable to be able to withstand these climatic conditions without needing to be replaced or requiring significant repairs. Therefore, Criterion 1, Climate Resistance, has been ranked as essential. Criterion 2, Cost, has been ranked as high priority due to the low economic status of the Timor Leste community. It is important to keep the cost to a minimum, ensuring that the end design is affordable. Criteria 3, Locally sourced materials, and 4 Permeability, have also been ranked as a high priority, as using locally sources materials assists in keeping the cost of the design to a minimum and assists in creating jobs, and because it is important that the final design must not have any leaks. Criteria 5, Locally manufactured and 6, Ease of use and repair, are not as fundamental other criteria, such as climate resistance or cost for example, but will improve the overall design. Thus, they have been ranked as a medium priority. Although it would be favourable for the design to be able to store ___L or water, it is not a necessity, as the Timor Leste community still have other means to access water. Therefore Criterion 7, Volume is ranked as low priority.

Table 3.1: Design criteria for water system design:







Climate resistant (robust and durable)


The design must be able to endure torrential rain, harsh sun and heat conditions for a minimum of 2?? years, without needing significant repairs or to be replaced.




Must cost under $40??? To manufacture and buy.


Locally sourced materials


Must be mostly made out of locally sourced materials. No more than 4?? components of the design can be sourced elsewhere.




The final design must not leak.


Locally manufactured


Locals must be able to manufacture the end design (after training and education are provided) with zero help from professionals.


Ease of use and repair


Locals must be able to use and repair (in a day) the end design (after training and education are provided, and with operation/maintenance manuals) with zero help from professionals.




Must be able to store a minimum of _____ Litres of water.

[1] https://dfat.gov.au/geo/timor-leste/Pages/timor-leste-country-brief.aspx


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