If you measure something, how do you know that someone else would get the same result? This is a fundamental question in many fields including medicine and psychology, but it is rarely considered in rural water supply.
Photo: A handpump mechanic performs preventive maintenance in Uganda (Photo: Daniel W. Smith)
If you measure something, how do you know that someone else would get the same result? This is a fundamental question in many fields including medicine and psychology, but it is rarely considered in rural water supply.
This blog is based on the Accountability for Water action and research programme funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and managed by the Partnership For African Social and Governance Research (PASGR), supported by Water Witness International, KEWASNET and Shahidi Wa Maji. The full webinar summary is available here.
Dr Tim Brewer of Water Witness gave an overview of the research programme which started with the global review of evidence carried out in 2019-2020. According to this review, 80% of the research papers on accountability found that interventions contributed to improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services and water resource management (WRM). Common lessons emerged with clear recommendations for action by governments, civil society, donors and others. While a key lesson is that accountability is context specific, an analytical framework based on the “5 Rs of accountability” can be used to identify specific challenges and opportunities within this framework – the ability to review, explain, and report performance against rules, responsibilities, and obligations, and to react constructively to improve performance through sanctions, incentives, or corrective measures.
The review identified a series of knowledge gaps and questions, including gender, donors, government responsiveness, measurement, and civic space. Based on this analysis, 14 Professional Research Fellows (PRF) working in the water sector in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Liberia, and Zimbabwe from a range of government, civil society and academic institutions investigated accountability issues in their own contexts. The full list of research topics and researchers is at the bottom of this blog.
The following key takeaways for governments, civil society organizations (CSOs), and donors were drawn from a compilation of recommendations from the research projects .Presenters included Dr Firehiwot Sintayehu (Addis Ababa University); Eunice Kivuva (CESPAD); Chitimbwa Chifunda (WaterAid Zambia), The full list of research topics and researchers at the end of this blog demonstrates the depth and breadth of evidence underlying these recommendations .
Three key takeaways for governments
Laws, policies and accountability mechanisms are essential to support accountability. However, lack of clarity and consistency between sectors and levels, a lack of knowledge and capacity about the laws and mechanisms, and weak enforcement often undermine these. Therefore, the key recommendations are to:
Harmonise, strengthen, and execute laws and policies for water resources and WASH at national and subnational levels,
Strengthen accountability systems and relationships: mechanisms, standards, regulation, monitoring, stakeholder engagement and enforcement including for the private sector,
Build capacity on accountability, develop an accountable outlook and de-politicise accountability systems.
Clear roles and responsibilities and better coordination: Accountability mechanisms are often let down by poor coordination, unclear or conflicting roles and responsibilities and widespread lack of enforcement. Key actions required are to:
Clarify institutional roles and responsibilities between actors for WASH and WRM – eliminate conflicts in functions,
Separate implementation and regulatory institutions,
Strengthen horizontal and vertical institutional and sector coordination across water users through enforceable accountability systems and mechanisms.
Informed engagement with citizens and users: All the researchers found that effective engagement with citizens, citizen groups and water users is essential for accountability but wanting. To address this governments need to:
Introduce or strengthen accountability mechanisms such as public hearings and citizen oversight panels,
Provide Information, education, and mobilisation for communities ensure access for marginalised groups,
Support civil society to vertically integrate social accountability initiatives into decision making at different levels,
Support coordination amongst actors to increase the capacity of rural women and marginalised communities to participate in problem analyses and decision-making processes.
Three key takeaways for civil society,
Activate and institutionalise effective citizen oversight mechanisms. As well as the government actions to strengthen engagement with citizens and water users Civil society organisations need to support this, they should:
Advocate for more legally institutionalised avenues of citizen oversight,
Ensure that citizens’ monitoring and advocacy initiatives are vertically and strategically integrated in decision making at all levels,
Carry out budget tracking throughout the whole cycle from planning to expenditure.
Build capacity, empowerment and organise communities. A very common cause of weak accountability is the low levels of knowledge and capacity of water users about their rights, the laws and responsibilities around water provision and resource management, and how they can use accountability mechanisms. Civil society organisations need to:
Build capacity on accountability mechanisms and support their use,
Strengthen grassroots user groups and associations to participate in decision making,
Support civil society and water users, especially women, to move up the Participation ladder from token participation to active participation, decision making, and control.
Build on what works, like budget tracking, evidence-based advocacy, litigation. There is growing knowledge about successful strategies for strengthening accountability. This research has helped to strengthen a community of practice on accountability and identify examples that others can learn from. Key lessons for civil society are to:
Strike a balance between constructive and critical approaches to advocacy,
Bring strong evidence for advocacy,
Raise awareness of WASH and WRM issues amongst all stakeholders including citizens, government and development partners.
Four key takeaways for donors and private sector
Support governments and CSOs to strengthen accountability frameworks, monitoring and enforcement. Donors can provide financial and political support for the actions for governments and civil society mentioned above. They need to:
Support governments on WASH and WRM accountability actions as above,
Support CSO actions as above,
Support good governance and democratic space for citizens’ voice. Citizens’ engagement is critical to enhancing accountability,
Invest in women’s participation and reaching marginalised people,
Strengthen political will for accountability. Donors can influence government priorities,
Invest seriously in sustainability.
Water investments need to go beyond projects. They need to:
Go beyond procedural & financial accountability. For example strengthen basins planning to ensure responsible industrial water use,
Support budget tracking through the cycle – budget tracking is an effective tool to improve budget performance,
Invest in appropriate technology to support accountable and responsive services, For example digital monitoring of services and water treatment technology to prevent pollution of water resources.
Enhance due diligence. Researchers found examples of very weak accountability in economic uses of water by industrial and agricultural actors. Donors and private investors can help strengthen accountability by requiring:
Stronger due diligence of companies in relation to water use,
mandatory reporting on water,
promoting and enforcing the Polluter pays principle
Be accountable! Donors are major investors in the water sector but often do not fulfil their commitments. For example in Zambia the WASH sector is 80% funded by Donors but only 29% of that was tracked through the budget.
Accountability Mechanisms are needed to enable Governments and CSO to hold Donors accountable for their commitments.
Discussion and next steps
During the webinar, Sareen Malik from KEWASNET, emphasised the importance of legislation to strengthen accountability mechanisms. NGOs can play an important role to advocate for this and bring stakeholders together in Joint Sector reviews as a critical mechanism for accountability, monitoring and reporting.
Martin Atela of PASGR reflected on the role of politics in undermining accountability and suggested that political interference can be mitigated by greater clarity on roles and boundaries of ministerial responsibilities. He also emphasized the need to find ways to work with political elites so they see the value in change
Next steps involve joining the community of practice on accountability for water, to continue learning from experience and to advocate for commitments to strengthen accountability.
The Research programme is managed by the Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR) and Water Witness International with financial support from the Hewlett Foundation.
More information about the research is on the website including findings from the global review of evidence, recorded presentations from webinars at World Water Week 2022 in Stockholm, presentations from country specific webinars, and summary briefings of all the research topics. www.accountabilityforwater.org
List of Research topics, Professional Research Fellows and host institutions
Government Dynamics of Accountability in Ethiopia, Mulugeta Gashaw, Water Witness Ethiopia
Political Economy Analysis of water governance, Asnake Kefale
Risks and opportunities for growth in Ethiopia’s textile and apparel industries, Esayas Samuel
Wastewater management in upstream catchment of ARB, Yosef Abebe, Addis Ababa University and Ministry of Water and Energy
Accountability of the One WASH National Programme of Ethiopia, Michael Negash, PSI
Towards a sustainable management of faecal sludge: the case of Addis Ababa, Tamene Hailu
Alwero Dam governance, Firehiwot Sentayu, Addis Ababa University
Government Dynamics of Accountability in Kenya, Dr Tiberius Barasa
Enhancing coordination for accountability and sustainability in water resources management; a case of Kerio sub-catchment in Baringo rift valley basin. Eunice Kivuva (CESPAD)
Kakamega County Water and Sanitation Company, Kenya. Mary Simiyu, Kakamega Water Service Provider
Rural Women and water decisions in Kwale and Kilifi Counties, Felix Brian, KWAHO
Strengthening accountability in solid waste management through incentives and penalties in Naivasha, Kenya, Naomi Korir, Sanivation
Government Dynamics of Accountability in Tanzania, Dr Opportuna Kweka
Assessment of Gender Power Relations and Accountability in Community Based Water Supply Operators in Selected Water Basins of Tanzania, Pitio Ndyeshumba, Institute of Lands
Regulatory and Legal Accountability for Water Pollution in Tanzania: The Case of Msimbazi River Basin in Dar es Salaam City, Mwajuma Salum, University of Dar Es Salaam
Opportunities and challenges of accountability claiming in Tanzania’s water sector, Dr Parestico Pastory, University of Dodoma
What makes budget advocacy an effective accountability tool, Bubala Muyove, NGO WASH Forum and Chitimbwa Chifunda, WaterAid Zambia
Assessing the effectiveness and impact of statutory accountability mechanisms to improve water service provision and catchment management, Mable Murambiwa, Combined Harare Residents Association, Zimbabwe
Accountability Challenges in The Liberia Water-Supply Sector: LWSC in Robertsport and Kakata, Timothy Kpeh, United Youth for Peace, Liberia
About the author: This blog is authored by Louisa Gosling, freelance specialist in accountability, rights and inclusion in WASH, previously working with WaterAid and as chair of RWSN.
For International Women’s Day, we would like to highlight two participants from the RWSN Mentoring programme for young professionals and women, Fadzai T. Munodawafa-Bhurabhura (from Zimbabwe) and Dr Kerstin Danert (from Switzerland). You can find out more about their experience of mentoring through RWSN below. RWSN plans on launching a new edition of the mentoring programme soon, and encourages women of all ages in the water sector to sign up. To find out more, sign up to become a RWSN member today.
Mentorship is a reciprocal learning relationship in which a mentor and mentee work collaboratively toward the achievement of mutually-defined goals that will develop a mentee’s skills, abilities, knowledge, and/or thinking.
I am Fadzai T. Munodawafa, a WASH professional with an international Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in Zimbabwe. I support teams who implement WASH in the rural communities in Zimbabwe. In addition, I am responsible for managing the drilling unit of the organisation. With such responsibilities as a young professional, I sought to increase my understanding of rural and urban water supply and sanitation as well as groundwater monitoring, which both have a significant bearing on improving access to water for under-privileged communities.
A message of invitation for young professionals in the water sector to join the mentorship programme under the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) was shared on the Zimbabwe WASH Cluster platform. I thought this was an opportunity to learn from senior professionals and firm up my career. Following acceptance within the mentorship programme in 2020, I was linked with Dr Kerstin Danert a water sector professional researcher and facilitator.
I am Kerstin Danert, a rural water supply professional who has been active in RWSN since 2004, when I was still living and working in Uganda. I work as a consultant, with a range of types of work including research, training, facilitation and knowledge-brokering. I currently live in Switzerland.
My mentorship experience was a flexible one where I would ask questions or a raise discussion point and Kerstin would have a topic for discussion for our scheduled meetings. During our 9-month mentorship relationship, Kerstin and I discussed broadly on topics such as groundwater management, remote sensing and sustainable community-based management of water points key areas that have helped me in my career in the water sector. Kerstin’s experience in sub-Saharan Africa and remote areas made our connection easy as she could relate to my experiences and questions.
Our mentoring relationship commenced just as I was branching out to start my own company, which unfortunately coincided with the start of the Covid pandemic. It was not an easy time (as we all know), and I was worried as to whether my company would even survive. It very soon became apparent that this would not be a one-way mentorship by any means. Fadzai not only helped me to make contact with field realities (which I was very much missing), but also gave me a lot of support and encouragement regarding my new venture.
As a young professional, I was not confident speaking in public forums, a weakness my mentor helped me to work on. Now I can confidently speak in professional forums following her encouragement. Our engagement also looked into working on my resume and boost it to showcase the experience and skills I have. In addition, she connected me with experienced drillers and water specialists in Zimbabwe.
Although I have now worked in the water sector for over 25 years always as a consultant, I still remain concerned work may not come in going forwards. Further, I think that I had began to take my years of experience for granted. The exchanges with Fadzai helped me to fully appreciate that I am actually not at the start of my working life, but (hopefully) in the middle of it with a lot under my belt already!
Both of us
Since the mentorship programme under RWSN, we have kept in touch resulting in our participation in the UNHS Climate and Gender podcast on Global Partnership: Gender, Progression and Climate-Orientated Careers (The UNHS Podcast and Spotify) in 2021. The following year, our mentorship led us to work on a report and video documenting the impact stories from participants of online courses on professional drilling by the RWSN
As a result of my mentorship experience, I can more effectively allocate my time for various activities, connect and confidently engage with other professionals in the water sector as well as have knowledge on key aspects of documentation. I highly recommend other young professionals to join the mentorship program that will build them up in their career within the water sector. Many thanks to the RWSN for this amazing and life changing experience.
This mentorship brought me closer to the field again. I learned so much from the conversations with Fadzai – and drew insights from her into all of my ongoing assignments, whatever the topic in fact. She always had such insightful contributions to make. And I argue that I was the mentee just as much as Fadzai was. So I encourage others to take the time to get involved in this programme. It has been so rewarding and I look forward to finally meeting Fadzai one day! We have been talking regularly now for three years. A big thanks to RWSN for this chance.
To find out more information about the RWSN mentoring programme, please see here.
I am sorry to inform you of the passing of Dr. Otto Langenegger, who peacefully left us on 19 February, 2023 surrounded by his family, aged 84.
Dr Langenegger was the pioneer of rapid handpump corrosion. His seminal publications in 1989 and 1994 set the foundation for all that followed in trying to understand and address this phenomenon.
In his eulogy, he was poignantly referred to as a “nomad around water”. He grew up, in humble surroundings, close to Lake Constance in eastern Switzerland, the youngest of six siblings.
His thirst for discovering and learning could not be quenched by his apprenticeship as a radio technician in Winterthur. He was a through-and-through scientist and researcher, moving between subjects throughout his life, and building on the learning from one area as he branched into another. Together with his wife Dorothea, he moved to work in Canada for several years, from where he was able to, amongst other experiences, be part of an expedition to the Arctic, an exposure that he relished for the rest of his life.
Dr. Langenegger and his wife, with their two sons Urs and Thomas, moved back to Switzerland, and he completed his first PhD at the University of Bern in 1973. But he was soon on the move again, this time to Ethiopia, where he worked as a Hydrogeologist with the Christoffel Mission. He was fascinated by the people and culture, and was saddened to have to leave in 1976 due to the difficult political situation at the time.
Dr. Langenegger was not long back in Switzerland, before heading off to Africa in 1981, initially to Ghana, where he worked for the World Bank on the pioneering water well drilling and handpump installation project of its time in West Africa. This position, and the subsequent assignment based out of Abidjan, took him to Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali and Niger.
As a keen observer and compassionate man, Dr Langenegger was both intrigued and appalled by the ‘red water’ problem, coupled with corroding and failing handpumps that he observed in many parts of West Africa during his field work. And so, he set out to understand the causes. Initially using his own allowances to test water quality, he diligently researched this issue. One of his colleagues from the time told me that he stayed in the cheaper hotel in Kumasi – saving money for testing, and filling the bathtub with his tests. He also had his wife, Dorothea, cook plantain with different concentrations of iron-rich water from the rapidly corroding handpumps to see what happened to them. They changed colour.
Anyone working on handpump corrosion is familiar with Otto Langenegger’s seminal publications (1989 and 1994), which have provided the foundation for all that has followed on this topic. His second PhD was in fact on Handpump Corrosion.
After returning to Switzerland in 1989, Dr. Langenegger set up his private consultancy practice, working out of his home in Gais, Appenzell. Overlooked by snow-capped Alpstein mountains, his interest in water found an outlet in learning about the blue coloured snow, high on the slopes. And so once again, this through-and-through researcher set about observing, measuring and interpreting. I would say that Dr. Langenegger’s, keen interest and thirst for knowledge in relation to water was insatiable.
It was 2019 that Dr. Langenegger, who would soon to be known to me by the informal address simply as Otto, contacted me. He had found my own report on Rapid handpump corrosion in Burkina Faso and beyond and wanted to know more. Otto was both disgusted that the corrosion problem had not been fully addressed (after more than 30 years), but was also pleased that it was at least being looked at again. Unbeknown to me previously, he lived just a few stops along the train line from St. Gallen where I am based!
Otto had been out of touch with the water supply world in Africa for a long time, but had, now and then, searched for what may have followed on from his work on handpump corrosion. And so he was aware of the presentation entitled ‘New signs of an old Problem’ at the WaTer Conference in Oklahoma in 2015 by Vincent Casey, Lawrence Brown and Jake Carpenter.
Over the last two and a half years that Otto and I were able to share, he followed all of the ongoing efforts and work to address rapid handpump corrosion – the issue which he has pioneered in the 1980s. He was delighted to be able to talk about the subject, and, researcher that he was, always asked such pertinent questions and put forward ideas.
Throughout his long illness, and even as he grew weak towards the end of his magnificent life, he always wanted to hear the latest news. His delight to hear that the corroding handpumps in Ghana had been replaced in the 1990s is something that will always remain with me. “It was not all for nothing” he remarked, fist in the air, referring to his efforts over 30 years ago.
Dr. Otto Langenegger will be much missed. May he Rest in Peace.
He leaves behind a large family:
Urs and Marika Langenegger-Bohse with their children Tabea, Dominik and Eliane.
Thomas and Anita Langenegger Vogel, with their children Samuel, Jonas, Elias, Rahel and Salome.
In 1983, I moved to live and work in Ghana – some 40 years ago now. Back then, I was the regional supervisor on the 3000 Well Maintenance Unit in Southern and Central Ghana which was funded by the German Development Service under the Rural Water Supply programme. The project was a pioneer of its time, and included drilling boreholes alongside the installation and testing of handpumps in six of Ghana’s regions, as well as the Nanumba district, Northern Region.
We initially installed India Mark II and Moyno pumps, before dropping the Moyno due to technical problems. However, we soon realised that the India Mark II pumps faced corrosion issues. Investigation and testing (as documented by Langennegger, 1989 and Langenegger, 1994) found that the Galvanised Iron components (rods and riser pipes), when installed in water with low pH, had a propensity to rapidly corrode – leading to discolouration of the water and affecting taste, but also causing the pumps to fail prematurely as the rods broke and riser pipes developed cracks and holes and even fell into the borehole. The envisaged idea of maintenance by communities, with assistance from mechanics who could reach villages by motorcycle, was simply not feasible with such installations. Another significant issue related to corrosion of hand pump parts was the water contamination and bad taste of the water. As a result, the water coloured the food and therefore caused the population to stop using the borehole water and forced them to go back to unsafe water sources
We, therefore, had to seek alternatives. This involved field testing and collaborating with the Materials Testing Institute of the University of Darmstadt.
We looked into replacing the galvanised iron components with stainless steel. To ensure the pipes were light, we considered using 3 – 3.5 mm thick pipes, and used a threading that at the time was used in the drilling industry , known as the “rope thread”. Although Atlas Copco had patented this threading type at the time, it was later manufactured in India after the Atlas Copco design period (patent) ended.
Figure 1: Rope thread (Claus Riexinger)
The pump rods presented some challenges as well, since the AISI Stainless Steel grade 316 that we were using was subject to breakage, including the threaded parts. In collaboration with our partners at the University of Darmstadt, we were able to find ways to make this grade of stainless steel more elastic by adding 2-3 % Molybdenum. Other issues with the rods related to the use of rolled thread, which we learned was more durable than cut thread. Incorporating these materials and techniques, we were able to reduce the rod diameter from 12 mm down to 10.8mm, resulting in lighter rods which did not corrode. The only drawback was that the threads could not be cut in the field, but this was not such an issue, as there was no need to cut them when they were installed, or upon maintenance.
Figure 2: Pump installation (Claus Riexinger)
After switching to stainless steel riser pipes, we encountered another issue: -galvanic corrosion between the pipe and the water tank. This type of corrosion occurs when two dissimilar materials come into contact in solution. It was yet another challenge! Fortunately, we were able to solve this problem by replacing the existing flange with a new one made of stainless steel with an insulating gasket, into which the riser pipe could be screwed and prevent any further galvanic corrosion.
Figure 3: Ghana Modified India Mark II Handpump – water tank, spout and flange
After conducting extensive testing and collaborating with the University of Darmstadt over a period of around 4 years, we managed to solve the problem of rapid corrosion of handpumps in Ghana. The improved pump design came to be known as the Ghana Modified India Mark II, and was officially adopted by the Government of Ghana in the 1990s. Its specifications can be downloaded here.
Designing and publishing the specifications for a new pump is one thing, but the other is ensuring that these are adhered to. A series of meetings with government, donors, and NGOs working in the water sector in the 1990s, led to the agreement to no longer use Galvanised Iron. All stakeholders were on board with the change.
Of particular importance was the tremendous support and buy-in of the major donor at the time – KfW (Germany). They agreed to pay for the increased costs of the Ghana Modified Pump on new installations, which at the time was about three times more expensive than the version using Galvanised Iron. KfW also supported the rehabilitation and replacement of the pumps that had previously been installed using Galvanised Iron. As a result, we were able to remove and replace the corroded installations systematically, rather than addressing the issue in a piecemeal manner.
It is estimated that over 4,500 Ghana Modified India Mark II handpumps had been installed in Ghana by the time I left the 3000 Well Maintenance Unit in 1992. Anecdotally, I would say that 90% were working, and of the 10% out of use, they were down for maintenance/repair.
KfW took this design to Cameroon, while Danida took it to Burkina Faso and Zambia. I am not fully aware of what happened next, but I do know that ensuring the quality of stainless steel was a problem in Burkina Faso.
I am very pleased to see that Ghana Modified India Mark II handpumps are now available through the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN), and hope that these can be of use to other countries that are struggling to overcome the rapid handpump corrosion problem.
Figure 4: Example factory inspection Modified India MKII (Claus Riexinger)
However, I have a work of caution too. Although specifications, standards, and clear procurement documents are essential, they are rendered meaningless in the absence of inspection. During my time with the 3000 Well Maintenance Unit and later as an independent consultant, I traveled to India and other places for pre-shipment inspections. I also oversaw the rejection of consignments from India and Europe due to poor quality or manufacturing mistakes. And so, I urge all of you involved in handpump procurement and installation to make sure that you ensure the quality, especially through inspection and material testing.
About the author: Claus Riexinger is a rural WASH expert and freelance consultant with over forty years of experience in development cooperation with Government organisations, private companies, and development agencies mainly in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Germany, India, Tanzania, and Ghana.
Professional Drilling Management & Groundwater Resources Management
Thanks to funding from the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) in Germany, 2022 saw Ask for Water GmbH, together with the Africa Groundwater Network, Cap-Net UNDP and several other partners (see below) develop and run two online courses on groundwater. The courses strengthened the capacity of staff of governments, NGOs, the private sector and academia in African member states and beyond.
The courses, hosted by Cap-Net UNDP, and offered free of charge to participants, were entitled Groundwater Resources Management and Professional Drilling Management. Each course was specifically developed for professionals working on these issues, or responsible for decision making.
Professional Drilling Management Course
Drilled water wells are vital to achieving universal clean drinking water, providing safe, affordable, reliable and available water sources. To ensure that the water wells or boreholes are built to last, they must be drilled, developed and completed in a professional manner. Key elements of a professional drilling sector are robust procurement, contract management, siting, borehole design, construction, and supervision. Furthermore, the management of the groundwater resources must also be considered and support provided to long-term maintenance if services are to last. Unfortunately, in many countries it is difficult to develop skills in these areas due to a lack of training and mentoring opportunities.
The 2022 online course on Professional Drilling Management provided participants with a comprehensive overview of the different aspects of drilling management, specifically (i) groundwater data and siting; (ii) procurement and contract management (including costing and pricing; (iii) borehole drilling and supervision and (iv) legal and institutional frameworks. In the last of five modules, participants were encouraged to reflect upon and share actions that they as individuals and as organisations could take to raise drilling professionalism in the context in which they work. From the 781 people who applied for the course, 314 were selected, of which 209 were active participants. A total of 162, equivalent to 78% of the active participants passed the course.
You can access the 2022 course report, manual and key training materials here.
If you would like to learn about what alumni of previous online courses on Professional Drilling Management have done with their knowledge, check out the short film below or the short report of their testimonials.
Groundwater Resources Management Course
An estimated 50% of the global and 75% of the African population rely on groundwater for their drinking water supplies. Groundwater supports social and economic development and will become increasingly important in the face of climate change, as groundwater resources are often less affected than surface water by climate change impacts. If groundwater is to provide reliable, safe and sustainable water supplies now and for future generations, the resource must be well-managed. This requires consideration of the entire system of policies & laws, strategies & guidance, monitoring & management as well as investments & projects. Good groundwater management needs sound capacities in water authorities. But at same time, as many elements of groundwater management fall in other sectors, a general understanding of groundwater management principles in sectors like agriculture and urban planning is key for its successful implementation.
The 2022 online course on groundwater resources management provides participants with a comprehensive overview of the multiple factors that impact upon groundwater. It was a self-paced course and was hosted on the virtual campus of Cap Net/UNDP.
The course comprised 5 modules; each with a short introduction, goal, learning objectives and orientation video, as well as mandatory videos and reading materials:
Module 1: Characterization of Aquifer Systems from a Management Perspective
Module 2: Groundwater monitoring and data/information management & communication
Module 3: Groundwater quality and source water protection
Module 4: Groundwater regulation, licensing, allocation and institutions for aquifer management
Module 5: Transboundary aquifers in Africa: Approaches and mechanisms
You can access the 2022 course report, manual and key training materials here.
The Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN), Ask for Water GmbH, the Africa Groundwater Network (AGW-Net), Cap-Net UNDP and partners would like to offer these courses on an annual basis. We are currently looking for sponsors/funders to make this possible. In case you are interested, please contact us via email@example.com.
This year we are celebrating 30 years since the Rural Water Supply Network was formally founded. From very technical beginnings as a group of (mostly male) experts – the Handpump Technology Network- we have evolved to be a diverse and vibrant network of over 13,000 people and 100 organisations working on a wide range of topics. Along the way, we have earned a reputation for impartiality, and become a global convener in the rural water sector.
RWSN would not be what it is today without the contributions and tireless efforts of many our members, organisations and people. As part of RWSN’s 30th anniversary celebration, we are running a blog series on rwsn.blog, inviting our friends and experts in the sector to share their thoughts and experiences in the rural water sector.
This is a guest blog by RWSN Member Jaime Aguirre, based in Bilbao, Spain.
EMAS is the Spanish acronym for “Escuela móvil del agua y saneamiento” meaning Mobile School of Water and Sanitation; the acronym was coined in the 1980´s in Bolivia by Wolfgang Buchner, supported by a group of volunteers.
The main mission of EMAS is to teach families how to obtain clean water by themselves. “Hand-on learning” is the most optimal way to learn these techniques.
The goal of EMAS technologies is to provide access to clean water and sanitation through training of local technicians and beneficiaries. These trainings are compact courses where over several weeks all techniques are demonstrated and practiced. In a long term, all facilities can be maintained by the user due to the technology’s simplicity. The result:
Improved access to clean drinking water for the world’s rural populations combined with simple sanitary facilities, thus preventing the spread of infectious diseases and reducing mortality rates.
Increased quality of life, e.g. by eliminating laborious water-hauling, thus saving women and children time and enabling small farming operations.
The trained well builders are self-sufficient and independent, and can, if necessary, receive repeated advising and training.
Sustainability: The wells and water facilities are very affordable. Experience has shown that the owners maintain the facilities quite well, which results in long service lives. Any repairs that may be needed are usually easy to complete.
All materials needed for these repairs can be obtained locally.
The materials and methods are environmentally responsible and most of the steps are performed manually.
The withdrawal of moderate amounts of water and its disciplined use have no negative impact on the environment or groundwater levels.
Improved opportunities for people to stay in their home regions permanently.
The EMAS hand pump is the key component of the EMAS-technologies because it is capable of pumping water vertically up to 50 m. While other hand pumps have higher resistance to intensive or even inappropriate use (many times when the pump is being used by a whole community), the EMAS pump is designed mainly for household use. EMAS pumps have a long service life since any repairs that may be needed are usually easy to complete by the user.
Video-instructions can be viewed on a YouTube channel which counts about 15.000 followers with some videos having over 700.000 views.
Sometimes adaptions of the technologies have to be made or are even necessary in some countries due to material availability.
As of now, approximately 70.000 EMAS wells have been drilled worldwide. The majority have been financed by the families or beneficiaries. Since the 1980’s, worldwide more than 100 trained technicians have created a micro enterprise offering WASH services to their community. EMAS technologies have been implemented in over 25 countries through cooperations with various local and international organizations (e.g. PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) ). As a result of the cooperation with Welthungerhilfe more than 3.000 EMAS wells have been drilled in Sierra Leone.
EMAS aims to partner with organizations which include WASH in their programmes and also wish to implement the mentioned technologies trough training projects in WASH. Projects should include follow-up and support to trained WASH technicians to help them in becoming SMEs. Many cases show that workers of SMEs create their own company and serve other regions which have high demand for WASH services.
An EMAS learning page will be launched shortly in order to share all experiences in various countries and also facilitate all available material. This webpage will also target users with technical skills who wish to learn more about the technologies.
Drilling a well in Sierra Leona WASH Center
Amadou, EMAS technician from Senegal going with his drilling equipment to make a new well
Training of EMAS pump making at Sierra Leone
Drilling training at Mali
EMAS systems including rainharvesting, underground tank, bomba manual, toilet, shower and sink
About the Author: Jaime Aguirre is originally a mechanical engineer who acted many years as design engineer in the wind energy sector. After some disappointing experiences with the implementation of high-tech WaSH technologies he joined in 2014 voluntarily an EMAS training in Bolivia. Since then, he has permanently been engaged in providing training together with German based NGO EMAS-International e.V. In 2015 he initiated the Spanish NGO TADEH in Bilbao, Spain which provides training in EMAS Self Supply technologies worldwide.
Did you enjoy this blog? Would you like to share your perspective on the rural water sector or your story as a rural water professional? We are inviting all RWSN Members to contribute to this 30th anniversary blog series. The best blogs will be selected for publication. Please see the blog guidelines here and contact us (ruralwater[at]skat.ch) for more information. You are also welcome to support RWSN’s work through our online donation facility. Thank you for your support.
Currently, about half a billion people, in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), equivalent to half of the population, rely on protected and unprotected groundwater point sources for their main drinking water supplies. With the expected increases in rainfall variability due to climate change, sustainable groundwater sources will be evermore important in supporting resilience in the future.
Access to safe, reliable water supplies in low-income countries, particularly in rural areas has been improved through handpumps, which provide a viable alternative to contaminated surface water, open wells and unprotected springs.
Three new reports from the ‘Stop the Rot’ initiative published in March 2022 examine handpump reliance, rapid corrosion, the quality of handpump components and supply chains in SSA. The research looked specifically at the main public domain handpumps – the India Mark Pump, and the Afridev Pump, and also drew on learnings from the Zimbabwe Bush Pump.
Using the most recent data published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) through the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP), the ‘Stop the Rot’ research estimates that almost 200 million people in SSA (18.5% of the total population) rely on handpumps to provide them with their main drinking water supply (Figure below). Further, an estimated 700,000 handpumps are in use in SSA. Meanwhile, 23% of the SSA population still rely on unsafe and distant water sources, of which many could benefit from a handpump. At least for a generation, if not much longer, handpumps are here to stay.
Despite their merits, criticism has been directed towards handpumps. Limited ability to transport large quantities of water, coupled with a lack of storage capacity at the home, means that water from handpumps is usually fetched on a daily basis. Handpumps have also made the headlines: in 2010, an estimated two out of three handpumps in SSA were working; a decade later it was estimated to have only improved to three out of four.
A handpump breaks down for a specific technical reason (such as the breakage of the chain, an O-ring failing or corroded riser pipes), but its repair depends on the ability of the users, often a community, to raise funds, organise a mechanic and source spare parts. In turn, these depend on other factors within the locality and country, including the available services support mechanisms by governments, NGOs and the private sector. When water services fail, there are negative impacts on health and other human development gains, not to mention the burden on users of finding alternative sources. These may be distant, overcrowded, or contaminated.
A sizeable drop in handpump functionality in the first one to two years after installation is a common occurrence, and represents a premature technical failure. Something went wrong with the engineering – such as the borehole siting, design and/or construction, pump quality or installation, or the pump use – or there was vandalism or theft. Alternatively, the installation may have been rejected by the users from the outset due to its location, or the appearance or taste of the water.
The series of three ‘Stop the Rot’ publications draw attention to rapid handpump corrosion, whereby aggressive groundwater destroys the galvanising layer and so galvanised iron (or poor-quality stainless steel) riser pipes and pump rods essentially rot in the ground at a very fast rate (see Figures below). The term ‘aggressive’ refers to the ability of the groundwater to corrode, disintegrate and deteriorate materials it is in contact with, and includes, but is not limited to acidity is one type of pump.
This phenomenon has been known about since the 1980s. However, this new study finds evidence of rapid corrosion in in at least 20 SSA countries. A related problem is the quality of handpump components. The research draws attention to long supply chains from manufacture to installation, shows that component quality is not consistent and that there is limited guidance on quality assurance, and that in many cases, procedures are lacking.
The study proposes the establishment of an action group of key organisations involved in Rural Water Supplies in SSA, and handpumps in particular, to join hands and take a lead in tackling the challenge. Many actions are needed at international, national and local level. These including raising awareness of the extent that handpumps are used in SSA, which will continue into the future. There is need for sensitization regarding the ongoing rapid corrosion issue, and how it can be addressed alongside incentives for doing so. There is also the need to invest in updating handpump specifications, improving quality assurance mechanisms and strengthening procurement procedures and practice.
The full set of research reports can be downloaded in English and French. There is also a 20 minute presentation available here, and a recording of the RWSN webinar involving the presentation and discussions is available here.
This is a shortened version of a blog that was originally published by PLOS Latitude.
Short reflection by Maimouna Diop, a Senegalese Young Water Professional who chaired Session 2a4 “Rural Water Supply Management Models” at the World Water Forum 2022, on behalf of RWSN.
This forum is definitely the most impactful ever. Dakar has been the capital of water for 6 days.
Young people have been mobilized around the world to show their commitments. We will live through difficult times in the coming decades: resources will become scarce, demography will experience an exponential rise and funding will be difficult to mobilize due to the global crisis we are already experiencing. The expected action is therefore human and it is now. We must be at the heart of politics by investing ourselves intellectually and physically.
Just a quick reminder : issues related to water control and food security in Senegal were discussed 39 years ago, during a session at the National Assembly on April 14, 1983, with the late Minister Samba Yela Diop (May his soul rest in peace). It simply means that water security is nothing new and that our elders knew how to sound the alarm at an early stage. We have to be as benevolent as our elders to identify new challenges to be met in the coming years.
Understanding the issues related to water will ensure that appropriate decisions can be made and for future generations.
We need to act and now, because there is no green without blue and life is blue.
1. More accurate and granular analysis of climate risk is needed to increase relevance of climate information
2. Metrics for monitoring climate resilience in water systems are critical to track progress and inform investments for water security
3. New institutional models that improve water security will be critical for climate resilience
Water security and climate resilience are interlinked.
This may seem like a simple statement, but in reality it is a complex relationship. Water security and climate resilience are both about managing risks – from water-related issues and climate-related hazards, respectively – to achieve better outcomes for all sectors of society. There are intuitive relationships at large scales, but underlying them are complexities shaped by the environment, and our interactions with it.
Climate change headlines often focus on temperature increases. These changes will be significant and have severe impacts as highlighted by the heatwaves in recent weeks in North America, Pakistan and India. These increases in temperature come with dramatic changes to our weather, in turn affecting the complex water systems that are essential to so much of our lives and our planet. Floods and droughts are the most visceral example of this impact, which also receive regular coverage on the news. But climate change is affecting water security for humans and ecosystems in many more subtle ways.
Climate change is impacting our drinking water supplies. There is a limit to how much capacity they have to absorb weather extremes, especially for smaller systems. Heavy rainfall is linked to many major waterborne outbreaks in developed countries. A major drought led to severe water rationing in Cape Town in 2018, nearly causing the city’s taps to run dry, known as Day Zero. The report highlights that for smaller water systems that people outside cities rely on the impact of weather is often less clear, but the evidence is that there is limited climate resilience.
Water quality varies with weather. Rainfall increases the mobility of faecal contamination, with different types of system more vulnerable to heavy rainfall, exposing the users to diseases such as typhoid. Without reliable water supplies, people use a range of water sources to meet their water needs year-round, trading off risks between reliable water supplies that might be saline or expensive, with seasonal but unsafe water sources. Climate change will increase weather extremes leading to increased contamination and less reliability.
Fresh water scarcity is increasing. Industrialisation and urbanisation are increasing both the demand for fresh water and its pollution, with toxic compounds that are difficult to remove. Climate change is amplifying these threats by reducing the availability of reliable water, increasing salinity, especially in coastal areas, and changing river flows that flush saline and polluted water. Reduced river flows from changing rainfall patterns will increase exposure to pollution for those who rely on river water for washing and bathing, and increase saline intrusion from the coast. Building resilience requires better management of fresh water resources to reduce the increasing contamination that is making water harder to treat.
To build the adaptive capacity of water systems to cope with changes in climate, climate information needs to be available to water managers at the appropriate spatial and temporal scale. Ensembles of global climate models provide useful information about global climate, but analysis is needed to identify the relevant climate models that best capture local climate. More investment is needed to provide the tools that water managers need to make informed decisions to increase climate resilience, such as accurate projections at local scales and seasonal forecasting based on understanding of local climate drivers. The information needed varies for different users, but is critical to build resilience for managers of small water systems, reservoirs, and basins.
The report synthesises six years of interdisciplinary research by the REACH team across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Collaborations in our Water Security Observatories have allowed us to understand how water security risks are experienced, how inequalities are created and reproduced with new policies, and how new tools and science can support better decision making. The report highlights the impact the REACH programme has achieved with funding from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), in partnership with UNICEF, for the benefit of millions of people. It concludes with three recommendations for to advance water security for climate resilience:
More accurate and granular analysis of climate risk is needed to increase relevance of climate information
Metrics for monitoring climate resilience in water systems are critical to track progress and inform investments for water security
New institutional models that improve water security will be critical for climate resilience
Climate change will increasingly affect water availability and quality, with devastating consequences for the most vulnerable. Improving water security is critical to build resilience to the changing climate.