Coming soon: USAID Pro-WASH webinar series on Operation & Maintenance

Join PRO-WASH for a new webinar series focused on operation and maintenance of WASH infrastructure!

This four-part series will share lessons learned from USAID partners focusing on innovative advances in approaches to operation and maintenance (O&M) of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure. Speakers will discuss their program’s approaches to engineering, environmental, financial, and political-economy challenges, and aim to draw out important lessons that are more widely applicable. During this webinar series, attendees will learn more about:

Continue reading “Coming soon: USAID Pro-WASH webinar series on Operation & Maintenance”

Self-supply: why I wrote the book

by Dr Sally Sutton, SWL Consultants, on her new book “Self-supply: Filling the gaps in public water supply provision” available to buy, or free to download from Practical Action Publishing from 15 February 2021.

Moving from deserts to humid lands

After 14 years working as a hydrogeologist in the deserts of the Middle East on traditional water supplies and wellfield construction, I moved to sub-Saharan Africa, which presented a whole new challenge.

The easier availability of water was the most obvious difference – sometimes too much so (see photo)- but other important ones were the low quality of water and scattered population.

New challenges – Large areas with accessible groundwater and sparse populations – water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink.
Continue reading “Self-supply: why I wrote the book”

RWSN opportunity: part-time moderator for RWSN discussion platforms

Skat Foundation is looking for a part-time co-moderator of the RWSN online platforms from the Global South. The post will be a consultancy or paid Internship position in the RWSN Secretariat. If your application is successful you will receive a contract up to 31 July 2021 (containing about 1-2 days per week) which could be extended until the end of this year and beyond if performance is good.

Application deadline: 13:00 GMT 24 February 2021

Online Application form

Skat Foundation is looking for a part-time co-moderator of the RWSN online platforms from the Global South. The post will be a consultancy or paid Internship position in the RWSN Secretariat. If your application is successful you will receive a contract up to 31 July 2021 (containing about 1-2 days per week) which could be extended until the end of this year and beyond if performance is good.

Continue reading “RWSN opportunity: part-time moderator for RWSN discussion platforms”

Remembering Paul van Beers (19 April 1950 – 19 April 2020)

“Always eccentric, often controversial; always authentic, often misunderstood; Paul was never boring. He enjoyed challenging the status quo and stirring things up.”

by Dr Peter Harvey, Chief – Water, Sanitation & Education Centre, UNICEF Supply Division

When I first met Paul twenty-odd years ago at a WEDC Conference, he was (surprise, surprise!) talking about handpumps. I was immediately captivated by his passion and imagination.

Always eccentric, often controversial; always authentic, often misunderstood; Paul was never boring. He enjoyed challenging the status quo and stirring things up. He sometimes upset people by his exaggerations (e.g. the ‘spare parts free handpump’) and his repeated promotion of everything ‘blue’ but none of this was in the interest of ego or self-gain. He was passionately committed to improving the well-being of those living in the poorest communities in rural Africa, and he was convinced the water sector could do so much better.

He believed passionately that handpumps should not breakdown often and that the prevailing statistic of one-third of non-operational pumps in sub-Saharan Africa was unacceptable. He was frustrated by the apparent insanity of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. He recently quoted the car manufacturer Henry Ford, who said that if he had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses, highlighting how people tend to stick to what they know. He believed in the power of innovation and that no one should have to make do with inferior products or services.

A professional hydrogeologist, Paul’s passion was rural water supply. He lived and worked for extensive periods in Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mozambique, Angola and Kenya, before returning to the Netherlands to set up the FairWater Foundation https://www.fairwater.org/. Despite his scientific training, he was, in many ways, an engineer at heart.  He loved technology and the intricacies of engineering design. Among his numerous inventions were the Kisii Water Filter, the Afripump, the Water Donkey, the Beers Piston, Handpump Leasing, the Ribbon-and-Bead Pump (an improved version of the rope pump), and, of course, the Blue Pump and Blue Zones.

On one memorable occasion he jumped onto the table in a Nairobi bar and sat on a small plastic stool with a hole cut in it. “Look, the EasyShit!” he announced. That particular sanitation invention didn’t take off but actually made a lot of sense for the old and infirm. I had the pleasure of meeting him on many occasions to put the world to rights and ‘imagineer’ all sorts of solutions from bizarre soap alternatives to a submersible pump design based on the capillary action of plants (that one didn’t take off either!).

He was never afraid to have a daft idea. It would be much worse to have none at all. When he was diagnosed with cancer, Paul remained as positive as ever. Even when his leg was amputated in 2015, he was more focused on tinkering to make improvements to his prosthetic leg than feeling sorry for himself. His mobility was affected, but not his passion, nor his ability to post controversial contributions to the RWSN D-group!

I spoke to him shortly before his death and he told me of how his own story evolved. When he first worked in Africa 35 years ago, he would see a broken handpump and think ‘that’s a shame, a broken pump’. It took him many years to look at a broken pump and see the bigger picture behind it of suffering, dependency, self-interest and corruption. He was frustrated that many charitable endeavours were more focused on giving money to feel good than to do actual good.

His was a call for us to wake up and connect the dots: to look beyond technology, to the systems and behaviours that create dependency; to not be afraid to discard them and develop new blueprints for truly sustainable water services. He didn’t have all the answers, but he certainly provided some, and he never gave up searching for more.

The day before he passed away, he sent me a message: “We live and learn, a fascinating growing process, essential in life… Maybe that is why I hate so much if things do not develop, it is directly opposing the roots of life; innovation should always be there!”

Paul brought much colour to my life, as well as the many, many people in the communities he served over decades. I will miss him greatly and I am privileged to have called him a friend.

He was a keen flyer and had many tales of bush flying in Africa; I like to think he is now soaring high above us through the ‘blue zone’.

Pete Harvey

P.S. For those of you who may be interested, in future the Bluepump will continue to be manufactured and promoted on a non-profit basis by Join the Pipe https://join-the-pipe.org/eng/, the first social network of tap-water drinkers.

Photo: Paul at home in Amsterdam, 2018 (P. Harvey)

In Memoriam: Mansoor Ali

Mansoor Ali, an active early member of the Hanpump Technology Network (HTN), recently passed on.

Main Photo: 5 June, 2003: HTN Meeting at Durban – Vishwas, Raj, Mansoor (R K Daw)

by Raj Kumar Daw

Summer, 1973, Groundwater Surveys & Development Agency – GSDA, Pune had just been created and was acquiring its drilling rigs. The founding Director of GSDA, Dr. Venkataraman, constantly raided the NGOs for whatever he could get. He sent me word that he was coming to Vadala. I was trying my first attempt at rehabilitating an abandoned bore well adjacent to our workshop. The work had gone well. Dr. Venkataraman arrived, passing through Geological Investigation Team, Ahmednagar, headed at that time by Sarma Nidamarthy. Sarma had sent two of his staff with Dr. Venkataraman. Gautam and Mansoor.

That was the first time I met Mansoor.

Continue reading “In Memoriam: Mansoor Ali”

Opportunity to publish: handpumps in drinking water services

(photo: (C) Skat Consulting Ltd.)

Dear Colleagues,

It has recently been suggested that an up-to-date review of the issues around handpumps in drinking water services be undertaken.  This would be in the form of a book, which supersedes the documents published in the 1980s including Arlosoroff’s “Community water supply: the handpump option” and IRC’s Technical Papers 10 and 25. 

The new book would not be a direct update, since those documents were published in the UN Water Decade at a time of large-scale laboratory- and field-testing of handpumps and other initiatives which have not been matched in intensity since that time.  However there has been much experience and reflection as well as some research and evaluation in the intervening years which now needs to be brought together in one place. 

I envisage a book which places handpump services in the wider context of the SDGs, the human right to water, self-supply, community-based maintenance, financing considerations, emerging management models, and transitions from handpumped point water sources to (for example) solar pumped networked services.  The book would bring together in roughly equal measures natural sciences and engineering on one hand, with issues around management and financing, social aspects and institutional arrangements on the other. 

The book would be primarily addressed to organisations and individuals involved in planning, financing, implementing and supporting rural water programming – a readership which needs a broad but reasonably detailed overview of the subject.  The messages for policy-makers and higher-level decision-makers will need to be distilled from the book, in shorter form.  Likewise the book would not attempt to be a detailed technical document; indeed it is likely that only two chapters out of the 12 which will be included would focus on handpump technology per se.

Given the wide range of aspects to be covered, I envisage the need for a good deal of co-authorship and peer review.  A publisher has already shown keen interest, and I would be optimistic that funds could be raised to enable open access to the final publication. 

This message – the first on the matter – therefore invites your response to three questions: (1) do you think such a publication would be a useful contribution to current attempts to bring safe and sustainable drinking water services to all? (2) Would you like to be kept informed as to progress in the drafting of the book? (3) Would you be interested in participating as a co-author or peer-reviewer (if so, please send me a short statement outlining your area of interest and expertise). 

Finally, I am well aware that there are some strong opinions and loud voices in the community of those interested in handpumps; it will be part of my lead-author/editor role to try to present evidence-based and balanced analysis while minimising opinionated and biased views.  I am especially keen to find contributors and reviewers who are well-experienced in implementing handpump programmes but who are not vocal in the online discussion groups. 

I look forward to hearing from you by writing to my personal email address (below) with your initial answers to the questions above, and of course any other views you may have on the matter.

Assuming the idea meets with some approval from those of you who read the correspondence on this discussion group, I will put together a draft list of contents and start to identify potential co-authors and reviewers.  So please watch this space for further news!

Best wishes,

Richard Carter
richard ^at^ richard-carter.org
[www.richard-carter.org]

Rural water supply is changing. Be part of it.

The Rural Water Supply International Directory that is available to download from today aims to track the organizations and businesses fostering this change.

by Philip T. Deal, University of Oklahoma, USA

The Sustainable Development Goals are pushing the water and sanitation community to reach higher than ever before. After decades of fighting for the human right to water, universal coverage is the next, challenging summit to climb. “Access to an improved source” has been upgraded to “safely managed drinking water” – a standard that requires continuous service, good water quality, increasing coverage, and affordability. Considering that rural infrastructure often lags behind when compared with urban environments, accomplishing this standard can sometimes feel more like a cliff than a mountain. For these reasons, rural water supply requires new ideas – experimentation – innovation.

The 2019 RWSN directory of rural water supply services

The The 2019 RWSN directory of rural water supply services, tariffs, management models and lifecycle costs that is available to download (and in French) from today aims to track the organizations and businesses fostering this change. These entities are the catalysts to novel service delivery and management models. Some offer minor changes to technology or accountability mechanisms that increase functionality. Some create new financing opportunities that were not previously accessible. Some create a complex management system to maintain water systems over large geographical areas. Some could potentially fail. All are valuable.

The cases described in the Directory are meant to foster growth, learning, and inspiration. The successes, challenges, and failures depicted by one organization could spark a solution for another across the continent. Financing and life cycle cost discussions could become more transparent, uniform, and clear across borders. Networking opportunities and connections become easier – there may even be a neighboring WASH partner nearby that fits your needs!

This new Directory is intended to be an annual compilation. Current cases can be updated with new developments and research. Other innovations and businesses can be added. If a future reader thinks some other information should be included, there’s potential for expansion. We are open to your input.

Questions to Consider

When reviewing the cases within this directory, I would encourage any reader to think on the following questions:

  • What are some common management traits that you observe? What is similar or different when compared to traditional water and sanitation models?
  • What are the most striking innovations that can be observed?
  • What role does each case hold in their water and sanitation ecosystem? What are their responsibilities, and for what are they dependent upon others?
  • Which cases seem more conducive to scaling up?
  • What life cycle costs do various organizations consider their responsibility? What costs should realistically be expected to be covered by tariffs?
  • How would an organization react if international or support funding were reduced or lost? What would be the ramifications to the customers or beneficiaries?
  • What monitoring schemes seem to be effective in maintaining quality water services?
  • What information or data would you be interested in evaluating for these programs?

Bio – Philip T. Deal

At the end of 2015, I began my doctoral research on service delivery models at the University of Oklahoma. My first significant reference was, “Supporting Rural Water Supply”, by Lockwood and Smits (2011), which has often guided my thought process. Understanding how various management models can improve, disrupt, or maintain the status quo for water service has become a focus of my efforts. I want to know if each case is really sustainable, if there is measurable impact, and if equity is truly equal when applying these models.

Since I began, I have had the opportunity to investigate these types of questions in partnership with Water4 and Access Development in Ghana. You may notice this case was not yet included in the directory. This is because I have wanted to give excellent, data supported answers before I do. The team involved has been working diligently to measure and evaluate the level of service provided, the associated life cycle costs, and the effectiveness or their company. Keep an eye out in the next year for these results in multiple studies.

I would encourage all who would like to be a part of the directory in the future to do similar investigations. Challenge your assumptions and dig into the details. Determine what is working and what should be changed. Put resources into evaluating your organization. Then, be honest about it. It is not an easy or glorious task, but it keeps us accountable.

If you do not know where to start – RWSN is a great place to begin. Connect with experts, practitioners, and researchers that can provide excellent guidance. Sean Furey reached out for help on the Directory project in the fall of 2018 through a Dgroup discussion. Since agreeing to participate, I have had the opportunity to grow my knowledge base and network.  We hope this directory will offer the same opportunity to innovative and budding organizations across the world.

New JMP report offers fresh insights into rural water progress and challenges

The new JMP report is out with WASH data up to 2017! This is an initial look at some key points relating to rural water supply

The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) is one of the central data and analysis resources for the WASH sector and each new report and data update is generally grabbed eagerly by WASH data geeks, like me.

This being RWSN, I’m specifically interested in rural water supply and what I present below is a hasty digest of some key facts and figures in the latest 2019 JMP report specifically relating to rural drinking water access.

I’m sure other WASH bloggers will also add the analysis, but I found the stuff on inequalities very interesting and useful. Some things that jumped out at me include:

  • What can we learn from Paraguay, Morocco and other countries that have made good progress?
  • Rural water supply challenges are not just about Sub-Saharan Africa: Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Jamaica, Nicaragua and others are going backwards; and in terms of absolute numbers of people, China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan still have millions of rural people
  • Lower wealth quintiles often get left behind, but not always.
  • The new 3 elements of “Safely Managed” water are interesting and highlight an urgent need for systematic water quality monitoring – which a new RWSN Topic this year, as part of the Mapping & Monitoring Theme, thanks to our friends at the University of North Carolina.

Global Headline Facts & Figures

Here are some nuggets that will doubtless be seen in powerpoint presentations, funding proposals and journal papers over the coming year:

  • “2000-2017: Rural coverage of safely managed services increased from 39% to 53%. The gap between urban and rural areas decreased from 47 to 32 percentage points.”
  • “In 2017: 5.3 billion people used safely managed services. An additional 1.4 billion used at least basic services. 206 million people used limited services, 435 million used unimproved sources, and 144 million still used surface water.”
  • “46 out of 132 countries are on track to achieve ‘nearly universal’ basic water services by 2030, but rural areas and the poorest wealth quintiles have furthest to go”
  • “The greatest increase was recorded in Sub-Saharan Africa, where a quarter of the current population has gained access to at least basic drinking water since 2000”
  • In 2017: Eight out of ten people still lacking even basic services lived in rural areas. Nearly half lived in Least Developed Countries
  • “207 million people still used sources where water collection exceeded 30 minutes. Two thirds (135 million) of these people lived in countries in Sub-Saharan Africa but six out of eight SDG regions contained at least one country where >10% of the population used limited water services in 2017. The burden of water collection falls disproportionately on women.”

The report also reminds us that WASH is not just about SDG6, there are direct and indirect references in:

  • SDG 1.4 (No Poverty) its indicator 1.4.1 “Proportion of population living in households with access to basic services (including access to basic drinking water, basic sanitation and basic handwashing facilities)”
  • SDG 4.a (Education) and its indicator: 4.a.1 Proportion of schools with access to… (e) basic drinking water, (f) single-sex basic sanitation facilities, and (g) basic handwashing facilities
  • SDG 3.8 (Health) and its indicator on proportion of health care facilities with basic WASH services.

Since the emergence of SDG6.1 there has been a question about what “Safely Managed” water means. Well now there is some data available of the three elements chosen by the JMP team:

  • “Accessible on premises”
  • “Available when needed”
  • “Free from contamination”

However, there is only data for 14 countries for all three of these, but from those: “Between 2000 and 2017, water quality in rural areas improved from 42% to 53% free from contamination”

Regional/Country Progress and inequalities

Without doubt, the rural water supply star country is Paraguay: “Paraguay increased rural coverage of basic water from 53% to 99% and reduced the gap between richest and poorest by over 40 percentage points.”

Elsewhere:

  • “In almost all countries, service levels are higher in urban areas than in rural areas, but different patterns of inequality are observed.”
  • “In Latin America and the Caribbean, 12% of the rural population lacked basic water services in 2017, compared to 29% in 2000”
  • “In Haiti rural basic water coverage has increased among the richest but decreased among the poorest thereby widening the gap between them”
  • “In Nicaragua, rural basic water coverage has decreased among both groups.”
click to expand

Country progress to achieving Basic Rural Water Coverage by 2030 (figure above):

  • 16 countries on track, including: Morocco, Tajikistan, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Azerbaijan, Iraq, El Salvador, Kazakhstan, India, Vietnam, Tunisia, Brazil, Lithuania, Suriname, Panama. The most progress is being made by Morocco (+2.5%/year)
  • 61 countries are making progress, but too slowly.  The best progress is being made by Afghanistan and Mozambique (+2.1%/year)
  • 17 countries are going backwards, including: Iran, Fiji, Malaysia, North Korea, Serbia, Jamaica, Comoros, Gambia, Lesotho, Nicaragua, Guinea, Zimbabwe, Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Solomon Island. The biggest declines have been in Burkina Faso, Comoros and the Solomon Islands (-0.9%/year).

Which countries have the biggest rural water supply challenges?

The JMP data can examine this question in different ways – and a few new ones too. This is a quick-and-dirty dive into the data to look at which countries are struggling and should be given priority:

A column on water quality/contamination criteria is not included because the aggregated data for rural water is not available – and in many cases probably doesn’t exist.

These are just a few highlights, please take the time to read the report and explore the data portal.

:: REGISTER NOW :: RWSN Webinar Series Oct/Nov

We delighted to announce the next RWSN webinar series, which will take place each Tuesday from 9 October onwards.

Please register at – https://goo.gl/wZhTsH

Follow the link below to sign up for any or all of the weekly RWSN webinars below

  • [9 Oct] Taking stock of solar pumping for domestic water supply – O&M in five countries
  • [16 Oct] Mapping social inclusive approaches in WASH
  • [23 Oct] Reaching the poor through market-based interventions: Point-of-use water treatment

** no webinar on 30 October due to UNC Water & Health Conference and Africa Water Week **

  • [6 Nov] Data for Sustainable Rural Water Supply – Lessons from Asset monitoring & management
  • [13 Nov] Public Utility Service Delivery in Rural Areas: Opportunities and Challenges
  • [20 Nov] Water beyond WASH (in association with the REACH Programme)

Further details on speakers will announced soon.

Please register at – https://goo.gl/wZhTsH

Start time for all webinars: 14:30 Central Europe // 08:30 New York // 12:30 Dakar (13:30 in November) // 15: 30 Nairobi (16:30 in November) // 18:00 New Dehli (19:00 in November) // 19:30 Jakarta (20:30 in November)

RWSN webinars are made possible and kept free to all thanks to the following support:


If your organisation would be interested in sponsoring a future series, a single or set of webinars then please contact me for details.


Very sadly, we are not able to support French or Spanish webinars in this series, but they will be back again in 2019. Thank you for your understanding and patience.

Nous sommes vraiment désolés de ne pas pouvoir organiser de webinaires en français dans cette série. Cependant, nous reviendrons aux webinaires français en 2019. Nous vous remercions beaucoup pour votre patience et votre compréhension.

Lamentamos mucho no poder realizar seminarios web en español en esta serie. Sin embargo, volveremos a los webinars en español en 2019. Muchas gracias por su paciencia y comprensión.

 

 

In Memoriam: Arun Mudgal – a great handpump guru, mentor and friend

Reflections from 3 past leaders of HTN/RWSN on the loss of great friend.

(1) Rupert Talbot, former Chair of the Handpump Technology Network (UNICEF – retired)
(2) Dr Peter Wurzel, former Chair of the Handpump Technology Network (UNICEF – retired)
(3) Erich Baumann, former Director of the HTN/RWSN Secretariat (Skat – retired)

Rupert: “I am writing to let you know that Arun Mudgal died on September 13th after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.

“Although his many friends will surely regret his passing, those of us who visited him in recent times will be glad that he did not linger for longer; Alzheimer’s is a fearful illness.

“Arun was a familiar face to many within the HTN/RWSN fraternity. He made an unparalleled contribution to hand pump development in India from the 1970s and was instrumental in putting the first India MK II and MK III hand pumps into production.

“I would argue that the Mark II simply would not have happened without Arun. At least, not in the form that we would recognise today. He was absolutely key at Richardson and Cruddas, the Government of India engineering company that manufactured the prototype Mark II pumps, field tested them in the deep bore wells of Coimbatore and closely monitored their performance, translating technical problems encountered in the field into pragmatic, engineering solutions; Arun was the conduit between Unicef field staff and the factory that first made the pump.

“It was his persona – his charm and calm disposition combined with astute engineering expertise and manufacturing know-how – that led to the mass production of the India MK II. The development of the pump is best summarised in the Skat/HTN Working Paper WP 01/97 : ‘India Hand Pump Revolution: Challenge and Change‘. Written by Arun, it is probably the most authentic account of how the MKII and Mark III hand pumps came about.

“Arun’s legacy is much more than the MkII and MkIII hand pumps, of course; in a career spanning some forty years, Arun also contributed to the development of the Afridev and the VLOM concept and he worked extensively on water quality issues, especially arsenic testing and treatment. His influence on rural water supply programmes stretches far beyond India’s borders.

“I and many others will miss his thoughtful insights into troublesome problems; we shall miss too, his companionship on those long field trips….”

Peter: “Arun was a dear and much admired friend. I had the privilege and pleasure to work with him in Mozambique and Ethiopia and we met several times over the years at handpump meetings. It was an education to talk handpumps with Arun and such was his towering knowledge and authority of handpump issues that his assertions on the topic were always received with little argument.

“But he was much more than a supreme handpump guru – he had an appealing, if somewhat serious, retiring and studious, personality. In essence a supremely nice guy. I shall remember his Arun as genuine and kind, humble, self-effacing with a quick mind who achieved much during a lifetime devoted to our sector and specifically handpumps – and even more specifically the India Mark II (though knew a thing or two about the Afridev too!).

“Farewell Arun – a friend and mentor to all who were fortunate enough to know you.”

Erich: “I do not know what to write. Even though Arun had in the last few years faded out of our life because of his illness. He was and will forever be remembered as the great friend and professional.

“A true handpump guru with many other qualities. I had the privilege to work with him for years very closely. We travelled several trips together and his input into the work was very valuable. As Peter rightly said also the Afridev development profited from his knowledge and experience. Look at the piston. But Arun did not a want to be put into the lime-light.

“One incident will stay with me for ever. Arun visited us in Switzerland and stayed in our house. Our youngest son had a bit of a rough time in school. During my next visit to India Arun gave me a small statue of Ganesh. He mentioned that Ganesh has a calming effect and if we would put the statue in my son’s room it might help him. He was not only a very rational engineer but also a believer.”

Arun leaves behind his wife Krishna, a son Prashant and a daughter Ankur.