The interest and importance of rainwater harvesting have grown in the South Asia region in recent years. In September 2006, the Government of Sri Lanka hosted a Regional Forum on Rainwater Harvesting in the city of Kandy. The regional forum was attended by the Ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) responsible for water matters, in addition to professionals and local practitioners. e. The Ministerial Declaration following the technical deliberations included a decision to establish a Secretariat for the South Asian Region on rainwater harvesting to sustain interest and facilitate collaboration and coordination in the region. Sri Lanka was selected to host the Secretariat in the initial period following the Forum.
The Declaration made at the 15th SAARC summit held later in Colombo in 2008 laid further emphasis on the need to initiate capacity building and research on rainwater harvesting in order to combat water scarcity predicted for the region in the future.
A Regional Conference on rainwater harvesting held in Kathmandu, Nepal from 28th to 30th of June 2009, hosted by the government of Nepal, reiterated the need for regional collaboration and coordination and promoted the need for a regional centre and secretariat.
The Ministers of the SAARC region were briefed by the Minister for Water Supply & Drainage, Sri Lanka, on the progress made on this matter when they were in Sri Lanka in April 2011 to participate in the Fourth South Asia Regional Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN IV).
The most recent International Conference on Water Security through Rainwater Harvesting held in Colombo from 27th – 29th November 2018 (Organised by Lanka Rainwater Harvesting Forum – LRWHF in collaboration with International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the Ministry of City Planning and Water Supply), reiterated the need for regional networking and promotion of policy and practice on rainwater harvesting.
In mid-2019, LRWHF with the support of USAID and IRCSA took steps to initiate the South Asian Rainwater Harvesting Network (SARNET) This Regional Network Center resides within the LRWHF premise in Colombo.
By November 2020 the South Asian Rainwater Harvesting Network has about 30 members and growing. Member Organizations are based in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. These members include organisations and expert individuals who are specialised in rainwater harvesting as well those that apply rainwater harvesting practices in their programmes. The objectives of the SouthAsia Rainwater Network (SARNET) are,
- To function as a repository of information and experience on RWH, networking with RWH promoting organizations/institutions, private sector, and individual experts in the South Asia Region,
- To strength a regional rainwater network to coordinate the identification and evaluation for RWH technologies with the purpose of promoting best practices in rainwater management
- To support effective advocacy towards governments and donor agencies.
- To promote a People’s water management program based on rainwater harvesting.