Plant With Purpose Phraseology: What’s a Cistern?

Written by Annelise Jolley on March 21, 2013 in General

In honor of March 22 being World Water Day, we’re continuing our Phraseology blog series. Up next: What’s a Cistern?

Simply put, a cistern is an artificial water collector. While natural cisterns do exist, such as reservoirs drilled into stone, most cisterns are built from artificial materials like cement or plastic. These above ground tanks provide water catchment from rainfall and other run-off. In areas where rain is scarce and people lack resources to pump or collect water from afar, cisterns offer a simple solution.

A majority of rural, impoverished communities lack adequate access to water. Plant With Purpose teaches partnering communities how to build and maintain their own cisterns. In Tanzania, Plant With Purpose cisterns are made of reinforced concrete and collect rainwater from nearby roofs. These multi-family cisterns nourish vegetable gardens and crops during the dry season, hugely improving families’ nutrition. In Mexico, cisterns address one of the biggest challenges to families living in the high Oaxacan mountains: water availability. Water collected in these tanks is used for daily consumption (washing dishes and clothes, bathing, and drinking) as well as for vegetable gardens, agriculture and tree nurseries.

By teaching families how to build and maintain simple water collectors, Plant With Purpose addresses the problem of water shortages in rural areas. Thanks to cisterns, families have access to water for their crops, consumption, sanitation, and hygiene.

To view more images on cistern construction in Oaxaca, click here.

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