Achieving Professional and Sustainable Drilling in Madagascar? Yes, we can!

Guest blog by Charles Serele, UNICEF Madagascar

As part of its Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program in Madagascar, UNICEF is committed to supporting the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (MWSH) to build the capacity of the drilling sector. With this in mind, UNICEF organized a training on “Drilling Techniques and Supervision” in collaboration with the MWSH. The training targeted various stakeholders in the water sector, including government departments, drilling companies and consultancy firms who manage water supply projects, supervise or drill boreholes.

The training was held in Antananarivo (Madagascar) and organized in three different sessions of three days each, from February 7th to 23th, 2018. Fifty-four participants, including fifteen women attended the training course. The training was facilitated by Charles Serele, an experienced WASH Specialist from UNICEF Madagascar.

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To enhance individual knowledge and ensure sharing of experiences among participants, the overall approach used to deliver the course involved a mixture of lectures, interactive discussions, group exercises and presentation of drilling videos. Extensive reading materials from RWSN and UNICEF were shared along with exercises to be carried out by the participants.

The course participants actively engaged in the discussions and group activities. The training provided an opportunity to learn from each other and to reflect on what can be improved.

Course Modules

1.      Professionalization of the drilling sector

2.      Methods of borehole siting

3.      Construction of boreholes

4.      Supervision of boreholes

5.      Management of drilling data

The course review showed that participants’ technical knowledge in borehole drilling and supervision greatly improved. Participants also expressed their satisfaction with the course content and the relevance of the topics that were covered.

Forty-five participants (83%), including fourteen women passed the evaluation test conducted on the last day of the training. During the official closing ceremony each successful participant received a poster on cost-effective boreholes, in addition to a certificate.

As a next step, a field-based training should be organized to better illustrate best practices in drilling professional and sustainable boreholes.

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Additional resources

 

The training course was facilitated by Charles Serele, UNICEF Madagascar and organized under the supervision of the Chief of WASH, Silvia Gaya and with the support of the UNICEF WASH team. For additional information, contact UNICEF Madagascar on antananarivo@unicef.org.

 

UN-Water report: SDG6 on Water and Sanitation will not be achieved by 2030 at current rates of progress

UN-Water has released a new report on Water and Sanitation ahead of the High-level Political Forum for Sustanainable Development (HLPF) which presents, for each target, the latest data available for the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 global indicators. The report seeks to inform discussions among Member States during the HLPF (9 July -18 July 2018) in New York. The HLPF Forum will review progress especially on G6, G7, G11, G12, G15 and G17; you can see the Official Programme here.

The key message of this report is that the world will miss the SDG6 targets by 2030 at current rates of progress. It also highlights that only 50 percent of countries have comparable baseline estimates for most SDG 6 global indicators, making it difficult to track progress. It is essential to “harmonize methods and standards”, and establish a common understanding of how to assess Means of Implementation (MoI) across SDG 6. In addition to this report, UN-Water has also set up a webpage with examples of countries sharing their experiences.

RWSN had provided some comments on the draft report which was made available by UN-Water earlier this year. By and large these comments still hold – you can find out about what we said here and our take on how the report addresses sustainability of services, accountability, self-supply, capacity development, water and energy, groundwater and public participation.

So, what does the final report say? It compiles data and information available on the SDG6 Targets, including:

  • Target 6.1: Achieve access  to  safe  and  affordable  drinking  water: There are still 844 million people who lack access to basic water services, and 2.1 billion people who lack water that is accessible, available when needed and free from contamination. The report highlights that extending access to safe drinking water for all is a “huge challenge” that will not be achieved if there is no increase in “investment from governments and other sources” and a “strengthening in institutional arrangements” for managing and regulating drinking water.
  • Target 6.2: Achieve access to sanitation and hygiene and end open defecation: There are still 2.3 billion people who lack access to basic sanitation services, and 4.5 billion people who lack safely managed sanitation services. Only 27 per cent of the population in least developed countries has access to soap and water for handwashing. Extending universal access to sanitation and hygiene won’t be achieved if there is not an increase in “investment and a strengthening of the capacity of local and national authorities” for managing and regulating sanitation systems.
  • Target 6.3: Improve water quality, wastewater treatment and safe reuse: Freshwater pollution is prevalent and increasing in many parts of Latin America, Africa and Asia. The lack of water quality monitoring in many parts of the world does not allow for an exact global estimate of water pollution.
  • Target 6.4: Increase water-use efficiency and ensure freshwater supplies: Nowadays more than 2 billion people live in countries experiencing high water stress. The agriculture sector is the largest user of freshwater; it uses 70 per cent of global water withdrawals. In the report, some techniques to save water have been presented like “increasing productivity of food crops”, “improving water management practices and technologies”, “growing fewer water intensive crops in water scarce regions”, “reducing food loss and waste”, and “importing food grown from water rich countries”.
  • Target 6.5: Implement integrated   water   resources   management   (IWRM)   including    transboundary    cooperation: While all countries have at least started implementing various aspects of IWRM, only modest progress has been made in terms of implementing a fully integrated approach. The average national proportion of transboundary basins covered by an operational arrangement is only 59 per cent.
  • Target 6.6: Protect and restore water-related ecosystems: current baseline data of the indicator “do not allow for a proper picture of the state of freshwater ecosystems”, which is why further detailed data including “quantitative, geospatial and qualitative” data are necessary.

The report also looks at the targets related to the means of implementation of SDG6:

  • Target 6.a: Expand international cooperation and capacity-building: 80 per cent of Member States have insufficient finance to meet national WASH targets. The current indicator based on ODA (Official Development Assistance) does not reflect all elements of the target. That is why it is necessary to complement with additional information relating to “capacity development, human resources and other elements”.
  • Target 6.b: Support stakeholder participation: In order to empower marginalized groups and sustainable service delivery, “local communities have to participate in water and sanitation management”. But even if the current indicator monitors the existence of policies and procedures for local community participation, it does not show if “the participation is genuine or meaningful”. This links to the recent report published by our partners End Water Poverty,  Coalition Eau, Watershed Empowering Citizens Consortium, the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and with the support of Sanitation and Water for All (SWA), on accountability mechanisms for SDG6, and which was the focus of a recent RWSN webinar in English and Spanish.

In conclusion, the UN-Water report focuses on the enablers of the SDG6, highlighting that:

  • “Inequalities must be eliminated”. It is important to have data in order to identify disadvantage and provide services to groups like women, children, poor, indigenous people and rural communities.  You can find some recent RWSN webinars on Making Water Work for Women, and Making Rights Real for rural communities here.
  • “Private financing, promoting blended finance and microfinance” should be developed in order to optimize domestic and public finance. You can see a recent RWSN webinar on “grown up” finance for rural water here.

Photo credit: World Bank

Favouring Progress: Yemen’s Water Scarcity Dilemma of the 21st Century

Our RWSN Guest blogger Muna Omar takes a critical look at the issue of dwindling water supply in Yemen’s capital city

The population of Sana’a, the capital city of Yemen, depend on deep wells that are usually dug to a maximum depth of 200 meters for their drinking water. The wells draw on a cretaceous sandstone aquifer northeast and northwest of the city, with a third of the wells operated by the state-owned Sana’a Local Corporation for Water Supply and Sanitation drilled to 800 to 1,100 meters. The combined output the corporation’s wells barely meet 35% of needs of Sana’a growing population which includes displaced people, asylum seekers, refugees and other newcomers.

Public piped water delivery is once every 40 days to some houses, while others don’t receive piped water at all. Sana’a’s population is thus supplied either by small, privately owned networks, hundreds of mobile tankers and water from people’s own private wells. As water quality has degenerated, privately owned kiosks that use a water filtration method to purify poor-quality groundwater have spread in Sana’a and other towns. Many people rely on costly water that is provided by private wells supplying tankers. These tankers don’t really consider appropriate cleaning, so the quality of the water is questionable.

Despite the challenges with pumping due to a shortage of fuel and with rising prices, private well owners are trying to capture the remains of the valuable groundwater resources before their neighbours do. Coupled with the on-going war, drought sees Yemen facing a major water crisis. Water table data is based on old research which can be challenging to verify now. Given the data and the current severe situation as water use exceeds aquifer recharge, it is estimated that the water table drops by approximately 2-6 feet annually.

Although Sana’s groundwater is probably the best water in Yemen, it is considered below acceptable standards for human consumption as water infrastructure has been damaged by warplanes and the sanitation workers went on strike because they didn’t get their salary. The latter left plenty of garbage on the streets that led to contamination of drinking water supplies. Meanwhile wastewater began to leak out into irrigation canals and contaminate drinking water supplies. Inadequate attention to groundwater pollution has directly affected the quality of Sana’a’s drinking water supplies.

It Yemen, as a whole, it is estimated that about 14.5 million people don’t have sustainable access to clean drinking water. Inadequate water supply has affected the country with the worst outbreak of cholera in the human history. Over 1 million suspected cases of cholera have been reported in Yemen from 27 April 2017 to present day. Other water-borne diseases include a recent peak in diphtheria that reached 1,795 probable cases with 93 Associated Deaths and a case fatality rate (CFR) of 5.2% by 19 May 2018.

Yemen’s water problem is not only immediate with groundwater resources under pressure as never before to meet not only drinking water needs, but also demands for irrigation. In Yemen, the pressures of climate change, demographic change and the on-going conflict place an immense burden on professionals working in the country. The enormity of the urgent needs mean that water resources management is neglected, despite being absolutely essential for the future of Yemen’s population.

Sana’a groundwater resources are significantly depleted in many areas and acknowledged globally as one of the world’s scarcest water supplies. Sana’a may be the first capital city in the world to run out of water. Looking forwards, how can the country produce more food, raise farmer incomes and meet increase water demands if there is less water available?

Clearly, there are several interrelated aspects contributing to the current water crisis in Sana’a specifically and Yemen in general, and the population has to innovate to find solutions. Future supply options include pumping desalinated water from the Red Sea over a distance of 250 km, over 2,700 meter-high mountains into the capital, itself located at an altitude of 2,200 meters. However, the feasibly of this is questionable with the enormous pumping cost would push the price of water up to $10 per cubic meter. Other options to supply Sana’a from adjacent regions are fraught due to water rights.

Groundwater data is the critical foundation for water managers to both prevent problems and formulate solutions. Data is lacking in many of Yemen’s groundwater basins. Even heavily used basins have no record of how much groundwater was withdrawn and remains in the aquifers, where it was pumped from? Nor are adequate data available on groundwater quality or aquifer characteristics. Furthermore, while the drought and other cutbacks on surface water supplies are motivating groundwater users to drill new or deeper wells in increasing numbers despite the fact that well owners don’t know how their aquifer is doing and so can’t anticipate changes. There is lack of data on private wells.

Lack of groundwater data in Yemen is not the result of ignorance about its importance, but is rather the victim of chronic underfunding and politics, which have been exacerbated by the on-going conflict. The war has made it almost impossible to measure and manage groundwater development and secure its long-term sustainability.

Having just completed the online course on “Professional drilling management” led by Skat Foundation, UNICEF, and the United Nations Development Programme Cap-Net, I have learned about the need to develop our knowledge in this regard. The course highlighted important immediate and long-term actions for Yemen:

  • Raise awareness within Yemen of the groundwater issues faced by the country.
  • Find practical ways to better understand groundwater, regulate its extraction, introduce control mechanisms and engage with the local population to develop effective actions.
  • Build capacity of government, NGOs, consultants, policy makers and beneficiaries through training in groundwater management.
  • Invest in building rain-water harvesting facilities in rural areas so the people don’t have to walk miles to collect water.
  • Invest in re-building infrastructure alongside improving water resources management.

Muna Omar is an Ethiopian refugee and a young water professional, living and working in Sana’a, undertaking monitoring and evaluation of humanitarian programmes in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health and nutrition sectors such as a cholera-response project, and an executive assistant with a local NGO.

This article was first published in GeoDrilling International and is reproduced with permission and thanks.