Guest announcement by Rebecca Gianotti, Ph.D., Consultant, Global Water Initiative, The Ohio State University
A new initiative at the Ohio State University that takes a systems approach to rural water development is launching pilot projects in Tanzania. Dubbed Wells to Wellness, the effort combines capacity building and tiered water point rehabilitation activities to provide scalable, sustainable systems solutions to water resource issues. In April, the university signed a letter of intent with the University of Dodoma in Tanzania to develop undergraduate programming that will strengthen the workforce in the entrepreneurial sectors surrounding water (food, energy, health, sanitation). The partnership between the two universities follows the announcement of a 55-MW solar array—the largest ever at a university—to be built by U.S.-based Hecate Energy at Dodoma in 2016. The new training and academic programs at the University of Dodoma will support both the budding renewable energy sector in rural Tanzania as well as a water point rehabilitation project also under Wells to Wellness. This effort will initially retrofit 125 inoperable wells as well as support health, sanitation and economic development with a systems approach incorporating a new franchising model for operations and maintenance as well as key collaborations with existing NGOs in Tanzania. Upon successful completion of the 125-well pilot, the Tanzanian government has provisionally committed to funding rehabilitation of thousands of additional wells by scaling up the model.
Wells to Wellness projects fall under Ohio State’s Global Water Initiative, a new effort launched in 2014 to develop sustainable systems solutions to water resource issues. In addition to Wells to Wellness, the Initiative supports projects that take innovative approaches to other issues including harmful algal blooms and coastal resilience. Field to Faucet projects combine a total US$5M in state and university funds to address issues associated with harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. Key research and development focuses on novel management techniques at water treatment facilities, re-using nutrient runoff from farm fields, and development of new hand-held sensors for real-time measurements of algal toxins in lake water, treated water, fish tissue and food. The Initiative is also part of the UNESCO-backed Coastal Resilience Collaborative, linked with the UN’s R!SE initiative that seeks to educate investors about disaster risks and implement disaster risk reduction projects.