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Tag: Africa

small mountains

A World Bank/United Nations Development Program report called “Learning What Works” strongly criticized mega-projects and called for small technologies and community control of water.

People in the United States drink over 2.5 billion gallons of bottled water each year, an amount equal to a single days’ rainfall on the side of one mountain in Hawaii. California has the Sierra Nevada to catch & release fresh water each year for tens of millions of Californians. But, most people don’t have a big mountain in their backyard, so I began playing with the idea of small mountains.


Everywhere in the world, the resource and the need exist side by side. By placing small mountains (rain gutters & water tanks on houses & schools) in the path of the coming rainy season, thousands receive home delivery of the best water on the planet. Instead of one big mountain, the idea is to scatter thousands and thousands of little ones over an entire continent. All these small efforts add up to the same result: billions of gallons of life-giving water.


Simple rain catching systems are set up in a day by the people who will be harvesting the water. The cost is minimal. For a while, more rain will fall than we will be able to catch, but our goal is to catch enough in each region so that everyone can enjoy, year round, the simple pleasure of a clean glass of water.

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the man who loves rain

Jack Rose – the man who loves rain . . .

Jack Rose, founder of RainCatcher.

Many places in the world need the water right now – it’s literally a matter of life-and-death. If we bring our simple ways to catch and store and clean rainwater to Africa, India, China, South America, Indonesia, everywhere – millions of people worldwide will benefit today by not having to suffer and die from water borne diseases.Example: Current projects include two UN Farm Schools for 700 AIDS orphans in Western Kenya.

bio: I grew up along the coast of California with a mountain range, the Sierra Nevada, in my back yard – surfing, climbing, skiing – living in a place where every year, like clockwork, moisture would float in from the Pacific, hit the Sierra, and drop an abundance of rain and snow. These same mountains would later provide the model for my current work.

If I had to give myself a job description it would be: inventor/explorer/friend.

Jack Rose Design Studio — I design interesting houses in all the hideaway places up and down California. Having grown up in a dry climate, rain falling has always been alluring for me. While living on the north shore of Kauai I began catching and drinking rain. It was the best thing I had ever tasted. A couple years later, while living on the rainy Mendocino coast, I continued catching an abundance of delicious rain. So, one day, while enjoying a glass of water-from-heaven I suddenly realized that over a billion people around the world couldn’t participate in this daily ritual that I take for granted. As a designer I gave myself the challenge to come up with a simple, cheap way for all who are chronically thirsty to receive clean, safe drinking water direct from the sky. From that day on I dedicated my life to this purpose and goal:  H2O 4 Every 1.


The value of rain received, rather than rejected, is immeasurable.

Architecture, up until now, is based on the premise that “Water is the enemy” – we must shed it and get rid of it as fast as possible. Residential, commercial, industrial and municipal architects and planners all adhere to this belief.

At the same time, modern culture has been relentless in promoting this attitude. Turn to the weather on radio or TV and we are constantly told: “It’s going to be a bad day”. . . because there’s a chance of rain. And if it isn’t a bad day here we are shown all the places where it is going to be ‘miserable’, because of rain — Boston, Pittsburgh, Des Moines, you name it.

Generations have been taught to fear nature, to loathe the rain, to complain each time the garden gets watered. None of this rings true. As children we loved the rain. When we weren’t inside playing board games and making forts we were outside discovering new lakes where bean fields used to be — building Tom Sawyer rafts and having big adventures.

A primary function of our work is to sing praise and gratitude for weather — to instigate an attitude shift from “rain is bad, let’s get rid of it” to “rain is a blessing, let’s catch it and treasure it.” When enough of us do this, countless people around the world will experience a Reversal-of-Fortune.  Water is as precious a resource as oil. Instead of tossing it aside, one day we will collect it from the roofs of every home and business structure and put it to good use.

As everyone in Africa knows,  “WATER IS LIFE”. .  . and I work every day towards this ideal: H2O 4 Every 1 . . .

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RainCatcher Uganda

Jack Rose, Father Kitzito, and Mark Armfield in Uganda.

Jack Rose, Father Kizito, and Mark Armfield.

Jack Rose and Mark Armfield worked with Father Kizito to bring RainCatchers to his 30 schools in Uganda. As a result of this meeting, arranged by Wendy Lynch, coupled by personal donations from Danielle Light and Lucas Donat, our RainCatcher Uganda project is well under way. Photos soon.

Our goal is a RainCatcher on every school in Uganda.

Thank you to all who share our vision.

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Global Envision article

Below is a RainCatcher story, Water for everyone, that appeared on globalenvision.org, an initiative of Mercy Corps.


Water for everyone

Posted on Global Envision: April 03, 2007

How one individual’s simple discovery, the refreshing taste of pure rainwater, is providing solutions in the developing world.

In Africa, simple solutions are helping provide much needed water. Photo Credit: Jack Rose, Raincatcher.org

In Africa, simple solutions are helping provide much needed water. Photo Credit: Jack Rose, Raincatcher.org

In observance of UN World Water Day on March 22, I talked with an individual who has made accessible drinking water and water conservation his life’s work. Jack Rose, the “RainCatcher” has been helping catch rainwater for use in African villages since 2004.

The rainwater experiment began in Kauai in the late 1990’s. Rose, a native of Southern California, was inspired during an El Niño winter that dumped constant rain on the island. That’s where Jack first began drinking rainwater and, a couple years later, the rainy coastline of Mendocino, California became the “laboratory, from which the RainCatcher projects in Africa were born.”

Since that fated time, Mr. Rose has made it a habit to collect and drink rainwater in his everyday life. He invokes the image of a crazed scientist, drinking from a stainless steel cup as the rain falls. He applied this passion for rainwater collection to his career, where he designs homes in Southern California. Inspired by simple, cost-effective design ideals, Jack began drafting and modeling rainwater collection tanks for home use and landscaping.

Imagine the image of a crazed scientist, drinking from a stainless steel cup as the rain falls.In 2004, Mr. Rose was invited to accompany a project called “Water for Children Africa” to Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa. He saw the dire need for drinking water across the areas he visited and found simple solutions could create extraordinary gains. He used his experience collecting rainwater at home to set up a rudimentary system in the villages that he visited using RainCatcher tents and natural drainage areas. “Maji Ni Maisha”, a Swahili expression for “Water is Life” came to encapsulate Jack’s experience in Africa and reflect the dire importance of water access in many African villages.

A Raincatcher tank being delivered to Bosiango High School. Photo Credit: Jack Rose, Raincatcher.org

A Raincatcher tank being delivered to Bosiango High School. Photo Credit: Jack Rose

As the RainCatcher vision formed, Jack Rose began a partnership with Kenyan Fred Mango and a company called Kentainers, which produces water storage tanks for distribution in Africa. They are now installing their containers at schools across Kenya.

The schools provide an excellent location for the water tanks. They are generally at the center of villages and represent a source of pride for many villagers. Teachers, students and parents are the administrators of the water system once it is installed and are responsible for the security and maintenance of the container and distribution of the water. A complete system consists of a water tank, rain gutters, and a filter. Each system can be installed in one day and one truckload, carrying five tanks, can provide rain collection systems for five schools.

Jack Rose and Fred Mango, from Kentainers, Inc and director of Raincatcher Africa. Photo Credit: Jack Rose, Raincatcher.org

Jack Rose and Fred Mango, from Kentainers, Inc and director of Raincatcher Africa. Photo Credit: Jack Rose

For Jack Rose, the RainCatcher methodology is a simple solution to one of the world’s most urgent problems: “there are many problems in the world that seem unsolvable … this isn’t one of them.” The materials necessary to install five villages with rainwater collection systems cost approximately $4500, including filters. The filters used are made by the Swiss Company Katadyn and cost around $250 each. The filters are an added expense; rainwater does not require filtration, but it can filter out contaminants collected from dust or rooftop surfaces. Additionally, if filters are installed in the rainwater collection devices, the system can also provide a source of clean water during the dry season. After the collected rainfall has been consumed, water from traditional sources like nearby streams and creeks can be filtered through the tank and cleaned for human consumption.

“There are many problems in the world that seem unsolvable … this isn’t one of them.”It is the RainCatcher’s hope that the next generation across the globe will embrace the earth’s natural abundance of water and use it more efficiently to eradicate the water problems of today. The biggest obstacle to this task is awareness. The plight of over one billion people without access to clean water doesn’t receive the attention that is urgently needed to address the situation. Despite efforts by the United Nations and World Water Day activities, the frustration of unequal water distribution remains the fundamental concern for the developing world. In this struggle, Jack Rose describes himself as the world’s waiter, declaring:

“We are told that we should drink 8 glasses of water a day. Whenever you go to a restaurant, or sit down for a meal, there is a glass of water brought to the table. At humanity’s table, however, each day we are 8 billion glasses short, I am simply a waiter carrying as many glasses as I can.”

Fred Mango, Jack's African counterpart in the Raincatcher Africa Project, demonstrates how to use the filters. Photo Credit: Jack Rose

Fred Mango, Jack's African counterpart in the Raincatcher Africa Project, demonstrates how to use the filters. Photo Credit: Jack Rose, Raincatcher.org

An example of the tanks that are donated by Raincatcher Africa to each school, they can hold up to 6000 liters of rainwater for human consumption. Photo Credit: Jack Rose

An example of the tanks that are donated by Raincatcher Africa to each school, they can hold up to 6000 liters of rainwater for human consumption. Photo Credit: Jack Rose, Raincatcher.org

Individuals like Jack Rose are the catalysts of change. He is planning several projects which will help continue his work in Africa and raise awareness about the possibilities of rain collection in both developing and developed countries. One such project is “Water for Everyone,” a film documentary which will tell theRainCatcher story and convey the power of simple solutions globally. You can read more about RainCatcher projects at RainCatcher.org.

Contributed by Lindsay Benson, Project Intern at Global Envision. Lindsay has a MA in International Political Economy from American University and her research focus is in global food policy.

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Water is Life — Malibu Times article

Malibu Times article, Water is life — published: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 1:40 PM PST

Water is life

Jack Rose’s RainCatcher.org waters the world.

By Ben Marcus / Special to The Malibu Times


An Nov. 10 2006 L.A. Times story cites that dirty water is the second-leading cause of death among children globally.

An Nov. 10 2006 L.A. Times story cites that dirty water is the second-leading cause of death among children globally.

Malibu resident Jack Rose believes the next worldwide resource battle will be about water. However, if collected properly, there is more than enough water for most of the planet.

Inspired by his travels throughout the world, and for the taste of what he calls a magic elixir, rainwater, Rose is developing systems for capturing and storing rainwater that can be used by future generations of Californians and underdeveloped villages all around the world.

Rose, 58, has been developing what he calls the RainCatcher since the late ’90s, when he was inspired to capture rainwater by trips to two of the wettest places on earth: Kauai and Mendocino.

“In the late ’90s, I arrived on Kauai in the middle of an El Niño winter,” Rose said. “In a rental car wandering around the island, my first response to warm, sparkling tropical rain was to pull the car over, grab a big stainless steel soup pot from our gear and place it on the hood. I continued to catch and drink this elixir all winter. I would stand on the balcony bug-eyed with Einstein hair, raise a glass and toast this bizarre discovery.”

In the winter of 2002, Rose was living in Mendocino, which is green and lush like Kauai.

“I rigged up rain gutters on a cabin in the redwoods and caught many gallons,” Rose said. “This is all I drank for an entire winter–not from necessity, but from curiosity, passion, glee. Aside from the pure fun of catching rain, it is the best tasting substance I’ve ever ingested. Truly a chalice full of delight. One day, while holding up a glass, I realized that over a billion people on the earth can’t enjoy this simple act. What I came to take for granted was not available to many, yet, at times, India and Africa are visited by opulent monsoons, just like Kauai and Mendocino. Right there I decided to design simple ways to catch rain everywhere.”

Knowing that up to five million people around the world die from tainted water every year, Rose became possessed with the idea of capturing and storing water from the skies.

“Like the Richard Dreyfuss character in ‘Close Encounters’ making mashed potato ‘Devil’s Tower’ sculptures,” Rose said. “I began my work.”

A self-taught engineer who worked in construction for many years, Rose found the model for his system in the Golden State.

“I grew up along the coast of California with a mountain range, the Sierra Nevada, in my back yard,” Rose said. “Every year, like clockwork, moisture floats in from the Pacific, hits the Sierra, and drops an abundance of rain and snow. The mountains store precious water in the frozen state for a few months, then release it one drop at a time all throughout the long, dry season. For those billions who are chronically thirsty, all that’s missing is a means to catch and store each season’s rainfall. With the RainCatcher project I aim to bring the mountains to the people, tilting the playing field in their favor. Every possible structure can act as a mini-mountain and catch a lot of water.”

To start his project, Rose went to where the need for water was greatest. In April of 2003, he was invited to join “Water For Children Africa” in a humanitarian journey to set up water storage tanks for schools.

“While traveling through Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, I designed RainCatchers that people could cob together with local materials,” Rose said. “In the hill country, where every home grows their own food, I showed farmers how they could spread plastic up the hill, berm the sides to make a funnel and direct the next rainfall into storage tanks. I worked with a tent manufacturer in Nairobi to create RainCatcher tents that, instead of the middle rising to a peak, it sloped to a waiting tank in the center. Everywhere I visited in Africa I was greeted with, ‘Water is life, thank you for being here.’ Everyone wants clean water. They have the skill and the will, but lack the resources. I came back knowing that my job is to tell the RainCatcher story, to come up with ways to bring water tanks and filters that require no electricity or moving parts to remote villages and crowded townships throughout Africa.”

Closer to home, Rose is applying RainCatcher to Dolphin’s Run, a Malibu home that will get all its power and hot water from the sun, and most of its water from above.

“Malibu averages about 15 inches of rain,” Rose said. “The formula I use is the square footage of the roof area, divided by two, multiplied by annual rainfall equals the gallons you get for every inch of rain. This house has 5,000 square feet so that adds up to 2,500 gallons of storage a year for every inch of rain. That makes 30,000 gallons of water a year. This house will have a 10,000 gallon storage container buried in the backyard, and that will cover the need for landscaping.”

Rose’s next project is for a village called Bosiango in Western Kenya. The whole story began with an email plea from a David N. Ogachi, who told Rose of the water-borne diseases that his community, especially the women and children, were suffering from, to help install safe and clean piped water.

That began a long back and forth with Rose by e-mail, which can be read on the www.raincatcher.org Web site. Rose is hoping to bring a truckload of six RainCatcher tanks to the village, which will allow them to capture and store 8,000 gallons of water.

“Right now they are getting their water from contaminated streams,” Rose said.

Rose is putting his Miata car up for auction to raise funds for the trip as a part of the effort to install rain-catching systems in places where it’s a matter of life and death.

“This is the real ‘Survivor’,” Rose said. “So I’m thinking about the ‘Global Garage Sale’ where people here offer some of the extra stuff laying around America to be transformed into water storage tanks for Africa. A jet ski here, piano there, etc. How many boats are sitting unsailed in America’s marinas? There’s probably enough stuff here to provide clean drinking water for the entire world. The exchange rate is very good, the reward is great. I’m offering my Miata as the first example of this concept.”

More information about the RainCatcher project can be obtained by visiting the Web site, www.raincatcher.org.

Los Angeles Times article: A global clean-water shortage, November 10, 2006.

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Dialogue — "Water for Everyone"

Water for Everyone –  dialogue between a boy and a girl, somewhere in the United States.

by Jack Rose

What if the only water we had to drink came out of the L.A. River?

Or Malibu Creek? or any creek?

What if we lived In Africa and had to walk for hours everyday just to bring water from muddy streams back to our house?

What if we got typhoid or cholera. . . or dysentery?

What if 5 million of us died this year from drinking bad water?

Every year!

What if someone decided this was unacceptable?

What if we started to catch the rain that fell on our school house?

And channeled it through gutters.

And stored it in giant water tanks?

It isn’t rocket science, is it?

But NASA wants billions of dollars to look for water on Mars.

And then during recess, instead of walking a mile or two down the canyon to get a drink from that funky stream. . .

We just opened the tap on the tank outside our classroom and took a big gulp of the best water we’ve ever tasted.

What if all the thirsty kids around the world could do this?

What if the $20 million spent on one military tank was used to buy 40 thousand water tanks?

Then all the thirsty kids around the world would have fresh rainwater to drink instead of the contaminated stuff.

What if we could make that happen?

We can. My friends and I are helping the Water 4 Everyone initiative right now.


It’s easy. The people there really want clean water to drink, but they don’t have the right rain catching tools.

Water tanks – rain gutters – filters. It’s just a matter of hardware.

Out job is to purchase supplies and help get rainwater harvesting systems set up.

And before you know it, an entire village is drinking the good stuff.

What if everyone could do this?

We’re working on that.

Our goal is ‘Water for Everyone’

I’ll drink to that.

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