Water security and rainwater harvesting: A conceptual framework and candidate indicators

Patrick Bitterman, Eric Tate, Kimberly J. Van Meter, Nandita B. Basu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Rainwater-harvesting tanks (reservoirs) in Tamil Nadu, India support agricultural livelihoods, mitigate water insecurity, and enable ecosystem services. However, many tanks have fallen into disrepair, as private wells have supplanted collectively managed tanks as the dominant irrigation source. Meanwhile, encroachment by peri-urban development, landless farmers, and Prosopis juliflora has reduced inflow and tank capacity. This exploratory study presents a conceptual framework and proposed indicator set for measuring water security in the context of rainwater harvesting tanks. The primary benefits of tanks and threats to their functionality are profiled as a precursor to construction of a causal network of water security. The causal network identifies the key components, causal linkages, and outcomes of water security processes, and is used to derive a suite of indicators that reflect the multiple economic and socio-ecological uses of tanks. Recommendations are provided for future research and data collection to operationalize the indicators to support planning and assessing the effectiveness of tank rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-84
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Geography
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Forestry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • General Environmental Science
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


  • Irrigation
  • RWH
  • Tanks
  • Water scarcity
  • Water sustainability


Dive into the research topics of 'Water security and rainwater harvesting: A conceptual framework and candidate indicators'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this