Seychelles, a small island developing state, is vulnerable to particular climate change effects and challenges. These effects have adverse impacts on the health and functioning of ecosystems and consequently on the well-being of humans as they affect the social and economic systems that are central to human existence. The problem of water scarcity is compounded by the ever increasing demand for water occasioned by increased economic and social development as well as population growth. To address this, the country has invested heavily in the construction of reservoirs and desalination plants. However, this increased the use of fossil fuel which only helped to emit more greenhouse gases. An increased school population and a local educational campaign to green school grounds, resulted in increased demand for water and high water bills.
The objectives were:
- to harvest rain water from school roofs so as to meet the needs of selected schools and to reduce the cost of water bills;
- to educate school children on the impact of climate change on our water resources and on the methods used to adapt to climate change;
- to raise awareness among the general public on climate change impacts on Seychelles, and on rainwater harvesting as a means of adapting to water problems caused by climate change; and
- to share the water harvesting experiences of the schools with other organisations.
Impact and effect
The School Rain Water Harvesting Programme proved that rainwater harvesting can be used to increase water security at schools. Schools taking part in the project were collecting and storing over 2,000 litres of extra water. During severe drought, schools depended a lot on the water stored.
The project also helped the schools economically. All schools which participated in the project stated that water bills have gone down. When comparing two bills in one particular school (before and after installation), there was a difference of SRs13,423.18. There have also been significant requests from people in the community and a local non-governmental organisation is now promoting the project at community level, including homes and some public buildings/infrastructure.
Most schools adopted variable pedagogies that were action oriented, where the global problem of climate change was localised to address the urgent needs of the children and teachers. There was also a shift from teacher-centred to more pupil-centred learning. As the programme was more focused on project-based learning, it assisted in solving environmental issues through creativity, innovation and critical thinking, important requirements for Education for Sustainable Development. This in turn will better equip young people to prepare themselves for future global challenges, especially with regard to climate change, and in other important skills in Education for Sustainable Development.
The project has been recognised by both governmental and non-governmental organisations as an example of best practices for climate change adaptation. Following this example of the national relevance of demonstrating action, the Government of Seychelles is encouraging rain water harvesting as a means of climate change adaption and aims to mainstream it in the country’s environment and sustainable development plans.
The simplicity of this project also ensures that it can be up-scaled easily in other areas, ensuring its benefits are spread to as many school children as possible, thus contributing to universal primary education and promoting social equity as children who were previously disadvantaged by poor access to water are now brought to a par with those from areas of a higher social standing. This year, six new schools are implementing the project.