My experience of the RWSN Mentoring Programme

This is a guest blog by Amanda Mugwambi, a young professional from Zimbabwe enrolled as a mentee in the 2020 RWSN Mentoring Programme.

I’m Amanda Mugwambi from Zimbabwe. I have been working in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector for over 5 years in addition to four years prior of environmental management. I am currently working as a Public Health Promoter for an international NGO. I have had the opportunity to work in both urban and rural projects. It has been fulfilling to see community transformation through donor funding complimenting stakeholder efforts and community engagement.

I heard about the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) mentoring programme through my country’s WASH National Coordination Unit. I was interested in the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills to advance my career and to hear about experiences in other countries. I must admit, I had a bit of trouble in the application process where I had to outline my expectations from being part of the programme. I just didn’t seem to be able to mainstream my thoughts. I wanted to know more about everything! When I finally managed to submit my application, I was anxious to find out who my mentor would be. I hoped they would be able to provide the right balance of academic and professional development.  I was matched with Susana Sandoz, a WASH specialist, currently a consultant with UNICEF. RWSN really did an excellent job pairing us! Not only is Susana a seasoned expert but her experience with UNICEF which funds some of the projects I have been working on gave me an extra understanding.

We began the mentorship process with Susana helping me gather my thoughts by streamlining topics that we would like to discuss over the duration of the programme. We communicated via email, whatsapp and skype. We had our first session in April 2020 via skype. To be honest, it was so easy talking to her. I didn’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing. We met online once a week on skype, then we’d decide on the topic for the following week. Susana would send me literature to review so that I could note down any questions for our next meeting. My favorite part of our sessions was when Susana would tell about her experiences in the different countries she had worked in, some of them were very applicable to Zimbabwe. It was relatable and gave me an insight on how to find solutions to the challenges I faced.

I have a keen interest in School WASH. I particularly liked the sessions on hygiene promotion, menstrual hygiene management, handwashing, child protection, emergency management, disaster risk reduction especially considering the Covid-19 pandemic. I have learnt the importance of using emotional triggers to reinforce positive behavior change such as effective handwashing. And I have also learnt more about community engagement to ensure the success of water and sanitation projects. It is crucial to trigger community members early for them to realize the importance of zero open defecation and the safe water chain to improve their health and hygiene. Below is the list of all the topics we discussed:

DateSession#Topic
15 Apr1COVID 19, Handwashing
22 Apr2Sanitation and Sato Pans
29 Apr3Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM)
6 May4Disability and Inclusion
13 May5Monitoring & Evaluation; Communication for Disasters
20 May6Latrine types: advantages and disadvantages
3 June7Sustainability
10 June8Development and Environmental Issues
15 June9Communication for development (C4D)
24 June10Social Norms changes
14 July11Emergencies in WASH
21 July12Water Quality and Water Treatment
28 July13Why is Sanitation Important and Advocating for Sanitation
5 Aug14The Burden of COVID-19
13 Aug15Advocacy
21 Aug16Gender
25 Aug17Child Protection
3 Sep18Climate Change
8 Sep19Skills for Interviews
15 Sep20Hygiene Promotion
29 Sep21Capacity Building
6 Oct22WASH in Schools and COVID-19 Reduction
13 Oct23Types of Rural Water Supply Systems
20 Oct24Pollution Analysis of Water Supply Systems
27 Oct25Pollution Analysis of Water Supply Systems
11 Nov26Urban and Rural Characteristics and Different Approaches in WASH
17 Nov27Urban and Rural Characteristics and Different Approaches in WASH
23 Nov28General Climate Change Summary
7 Dec29How to obtain an Enabling Environment
15 Dec30Income Generating Activities, General Advice for Latrine Building Questions on topics previously discussed

I appreciate the opportunity to be part of the RWSN mentorship. A special thanks to Susana, I really enjoyed the sessions, always informative and flexible. We also developed a friendship over the months which was pleasant and has improved our mental health during the pandemic. In our case we have agreed to continue checking up on each other at least once a month. I encourage young professionals to join the RWSN network as it’s a platform for continuous learning and for personal and professional development.

About the author

Amanda Mugwambi holds an MSc in Disaster Management and a BSc in Environmental Science from the University of Science and Technology (NUST) Zimbabwe. Her interests range from WASH, climate change adaptation and Disaster Management.

About the RWSN Mentoring Programme

For more information on the RWSN Mentoring Programme, see here. RWSN thanks the Swiss Development Cooperation and World Vision for their support to the mentoring programme in 2020.

My experience of the RWSN Mentoring Programme

This is a guest blog by Janvier Ngabo, a RWSN young professional enrolled in the 2020 RWSN Mentoring Programme.

My name is Janvier NGABO, from Rwanda. I currently work as a project officer in the department of natural resources management in the organization IPFG, working in southern province of Rwanda. My daily work is to help targeted communities in climate change adaptation and mitigation, focusing on natural resource management and their effective use, with a more emphasis on water and soil natural resources. I am a member of Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN). 

The RWSN has the goodwill of organizing mentorship activities in their Mentorship Programme for young professionals, where experienced and skilled RWSN members engaged in helping young professionals in their careers, to help them increase their skills. For the occasion, at the starting of the year 2020, the RWSN organized such mentorship activities. I took advantage of the activity and so got engaged in, as a mentee. It was for the RWSN secretariat to find mentors for the engaged mentees, and for the occasion, I got a mentor, Mr. Nura Boru, experienced personnel in hydraulic engineering, Postgraduate programs, and Research Coordinator, in Haramaya Institute of Technology, Haramaya University, in Ethiopia.  I and my mentor agreed on the way to work and the agenda to follow during the whole working period, till the end of the 2020 year, as planned by the RWSN secretariat.

I and my mentor agreed to discuss on the following topics:

  • Sustainable water resources use;
  • Rainwater harvesting technologies in rural areas (focusing on roof rainwater harvesting technologies);
  • Risks & impact assessment on rainwater harvesting system, focusing on the impact of roof rainwater harvesting on the reduction of soil erosion.

Depending on the subject discussed, intense discussions were done, where most discussions were done through email where my mentor provided some reading that includes some research done as well as modules on the topics discussed. The email channel also served to provide works for more understanding. Skype discussions were done to evaluate the progress, but not frequently done because of the problems of networks on both sides.

From the mentorship activities, I gained more knowledge and improved on different topics in water resource management.

I understand more about the rationale of harvesting rainwater. I understood more the need for water especially in semi-arid zones, as well as some problems water can cause. For that instance, I got that there is a need worldwide, to manage that resource in need but that can cause various problems, to manage it and promote its use, essentially in agricultural production.

I improved on the way to conduct a baseline on the water need at the household and institutional level and the way of designing its storage tank. We used in our organization to recruit consultants if such studies were needed. But from this moment, I can conduct a kind of study in my organization without the recourse of consultants. Of course, I can do consultation work for the topics for other people and institutions in need!

We didn’t stop on roof rainwater harvesting part only; we tried to understand the rationale behind rainwater harvesting, and its contribution to the reduction of erosion, especially in my “country of thousands hills” (Rwanda), where the loss of soil through erosion is intense. By this topic, I started the short study regarding the contribution of roof rainwater harvesting on the reduction of erosion in my community. My mentor agreed to guide me in the continuation of such studies.

Photo: my mentor and me, discussing on Skype

We really appreciated the commitment of the RWSN members to help improving the communities and entire world in water management supply and use, while no one is left behind. That desire and commitment to help everyone who needs the support in the network and beyond it is a golden value from the Almighty God. In my career, I will be guided by it, and help any person who needs my support as I can, without envisaging anything in return.

I appreciated the mentorship activity and the way it was conducted. I learnt a lot and I continue to gain more knowledge in the RWSN. More thanks go to the RWSN and its secretariat, may the almighty God bless them. We wish this kind of training or mentorship to continue for other young professionals. We wish also the continuity of the relationship between mentors and mentees.  In our case, I (Mr. Janvier NGABO) and my mentor (Mr. Nura Boru) agreed to continue the interactions. Overall, from this program, we have gained different skills.

About the RWSN Mentoring Programme

For more information on the RWSN Mentoring Programme, see here. RWSN thanks the Swiss Development Cooperation and World Vision for their support to the mentoring programme in 2020.

My experience of the RWSN Mentoring Programme

This is a guest blog by Joshua Azaki, a young professional from South Africa enrolled as a mentee in the 2020 RWSN Mentoring Programme.

I was introduced to RWSN by Professor Ulrike Rivett in March 2018 and I signed up to receive updates about the activities of the RWSN. In 2019, when I received the notification about the application for the 2020 mentoring programme, I applied immediately. I saw it as an opportunity to learn more about the water sector from experts, professionals and other participants. I was open to learning how they overcame the challenges of working in the water sector. I was glad to be among the successful applicants and privileged to be matched to Dr Vassiki Sanogo as my mentor. My mentor and I soon developed a working plan which included the time frame, the activities to carry out, the aim and objectives and our expectations from the mentoring programme.

The RSWN mentoring programme became one of the outstanding events for me in 2020. As a mentee, the programme was a journey of self-discovery and sharpening of my capabilities. My mentor was an astute, honest, relentless, and very resourceful person. He provided guidance and valuable inputs that will facilitate achieving my personal and professional goals as an upcoming researcher in the water sector. Table 1 summarises the activities we carried out during the mentoring programme. We met virtually nine times via Zoom and Microsoft Teams while keeping in touch through emails. We achieved our goals as spelt out from the beginning of the mentoring programme between March 2020 and December 2020.

Meetings and activitiesAim
NetworkingTo expose the mentee on how to explore and exploit networking opportunities
Academic writingTo improve the writing skills of the mentee by exposing him to tips on writing to the academic community.
BrainstormingTo sharpen the critical reasoning and problem-solving skills of the mentee through analysing journal articles.
CV presentationTo help mentee explore the best ways to professionally present himself
Data analysisTo guide mentee towards choosing the appropriate ways of collecting data and conducting data analysis
Continuous learningTo discuss further on the webinars organised by RWSN
Thematic expertiseTo expose mentee to potential work or research opportunities in the water sector
Time management and record-keepingTo improve mentee’s organisational skills through scheduling of meeting, taking of minutes of and keeping records of meetings
Table 1: Activities carried out during the 2020 RWSN mentoring programme 

Impact of the 2020 RWSN mentoring programme

The impacts of the mentoring programme are numerous, some are listed below:

  1. I learnt more about how to craft a credible research question through identifying gaps in the literature, generating smart and achievable research objectives, ways of conducting research (data collection and data analysis methods) as well as reporting my findings.
  2. I learnt how to select journals to publish in (which includes knowing the target audience of a journal, their writing and referencing style and the impact factor of the journal).
  3. I learnt what an Individual Development Plan (IDP) is and created one.
  4. My organisational, record keeping, and time management skills were sharpened.

The above-listed points were key to me, especially now that I am about to start my doctorate. The mentoring experience provided me with the opportunity to be better prepared to take on the task associated with pursuing my doctorate and future career.

The mentoring programme also helped me navigate the lockdown period that accompanied the COVID 19 pandemic with less stress because I was productively engaged throughout the period. I was exposed to useful resources during the RWSN webinars especially the webinar on WHO/UNICEF JMP methods for monitoring SDG targets for WASH in households.

My mentor was pleased and excited that we worked as a team to achieve all our goals.

In conclusion, the 2020 RWSN mentoring programme was very engaging, educative, interactive and well organised. We thank the organisers and sponsors of the programme for this platform.

About the mentee and his mentor

Joshua Azaki is a Christian, a husband and a postgraduate student with the iCOMMS research team at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. His research interests are broadly in Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D), knowledge management in the water sector and the use of persuasive information campaign to encourage water-saving practices. He is about to start his doctorate at the time of writing this blog.

Dr Vassiki Sanogo  is a well-organized and dependable professional, equipped with a positive, can-do attitude in leading and educating diverse levels of team member. Armed with expertise in applied economics, health economics, health/water policy, economic development, public policy, payer/clinical decision-makers, comparative study, cost-effective, budget impact, assess risk, quantitative methods, statistics, business analytics, machine learning, deep learning, visual text analytics, data project architect, forecasting, optimization, experimental and case studies, and data science. Equipped with exceptional ability in working and interacting with students and colleagues in a professional manner. Known for strong work ethic, complemented with unparalleled professionalism and proven ability to conceptualize new ideas as necessary. Articulate communicator, fluent in English, French, and Dioula. Technologies: SAS, SQL, STATA, R, Python, Cplex, Gurobi, Java, C++, TreeAge, Tableau, MATLAB.

About the RWSN Mentoring Programme

For more information on the RWSN Mentoring Programme, see here. RWSN thanks the Swiss Development Cooperation and World Vision for their support to the mentoring programme in 2020.

My experience of the RWSN Mentoring Programme

This is a guest blog by Byamukama Arinaitwe, a young professional enrolled as a mentee in the RWSN Mentoring Programme.

My name is Byamukama Arinaitwe, a recent civil engineering graduate from Uganda. In September 2019, I started out in my career working with Kigezi Diocese Water and Sanitation Programme as a Civil Engineer. The programme champions WASH interventions in South-Western Uganda, with its water supply interventions ranging from point water sources like protected springs to piped water systems like gravity water flow systems. It is an exciting field to practice in because it directly impacts the quality of people’s lives.

The desire to grow my knowledge and skill in the WASH sector led me to the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) mentoring programme. When I applied to join the mentoring programme, I didn’t have specific outlined expectations on what benefits would come from being part of the programme. I mostly looked forward to being matched with a mentor, a senior to me in all ways from whom I would learn a lot. I was matched with Engineer Oria-Usifo Ehi Ekiado. He is a Nigerian professional with a vast experience in managing water resources and also doubles as an academic with the University of Benin. He also has a stellar research portfolio of published journal articles and conference papers.

The RWSN mentoring programme has benefited me almost invariably at every turn. To begin with, the application process. When applying for mentoring, mentees were asked to write a one page essay explaining why they wanted to be mentored and then came the filling of the mentoring agreement. The agreement had a part of skills a mentee wanted to improve throughout the duration of the mentoring relationship. I don’t know of a time in my life when I did so much introspection to find out which skills I was confident about and those I wanted to improve but I was certainly sure of the skills I wanted to acquire. This whole process made me more self-aware and helped me learn a bit more about myself in regard to my abilities, hopes and ambitions.

Since March 2020, my mentor and I have held online discussions by both e-mail, video calls via Zoom, WhatsApp as well as text. Our interactions have to date been guided by an agenda prepared for a given meeting. He gives me assignments based on the list of activities that was included in the mentorship agreement at the start of the programme. This list has activities based on the skills I desire to improve as well as acquire throughout this mentoring period and they are broken down according to the months of the year.

pic2

A video call interaction between my mentor and me.

The benefits of being mentored so far are quite invaluable and innumerable to me, both directly and indirectly.

In my career/at the workplace, this mentoring has enhanced my ability to address problems as well as coming up with solutions through sharing the challenges with my mentor. My mentor guides me on how to come up with viable solutions to the problems. Case in point was improving the safety and quality of water used in beneficiary households through enhancing behavioral change.

I have also learnt how to communicate effectively the changes or solutions I think could significantly solve some of the challenges encountered in the workplace. I am currently working on a PowerPoint presentation on how my organization can use PRINCE 2 (a project management methodology) for which I am a certified practitioner, to run our projects better. In the near future I also intend to write some papers that could influence change in my workplace and also propel me professionally.

Through this mentoring programme, I have also learnt to be intentional in choosing and prioritizing activities or programs that I think may add value to me professionally. My mentor’s input in my decisions has and continues to clear my judgment and decision making ability. This has come to play in choosing some desired certifications over others because of the varying benefits each add as opposed to random choice.

Through the mentoring programme, my mentor continuously recommends resources like books and webinars that have enriched my knowledge and understanding of different facets of engineering.

The RWSN mentoring programme has so far been a learning curve for me and I look forward to continuously learn.

For more information on the RWSN Mentoring Programme, see here. RWSN thanks the Swiss Development Cooperation and World Vision for their support to the programme. 

 

 

 

My experience at the World Water Week Conference: Water for Society Including all

This is a guest blog by Benson Kandeh, winner of the RWSN@WWW competition for young professionals.. For more information on RWSN’s activities for Young professionals, see here.

My name is Benson Kandeh and I am a young water professional from Sierra Leone. I work on providing water supply for rural communities in my country through the EMAS technologies and by training technicians to enable self-supply by and for communities. You can find out more about my organisation here and my work here.

This year, I won a competition for young professionals organized by RWSN to attend World Water Week in Stockholm. Getting to Stockholm from Sierra Leone was a challenge: I had to apply for a visa to Sweden in Nigeria, where I had to stay over two weeks waiting for the outcome of the visa process. My visa was initially denied by the Swedish authorities and later approved thanks to an appeal from the RWSN Secretariat. I got the news that my visa has been appealed on Monday 19th August, and two days later, on Wednesday I was on a plane to Abuja to collect my visa and fly out to Stockholm the next day. It has been a whirlwind and quite an adventure for me!

This year’s World Water Week conference was held from August 25-30, 2019 and organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) with over 3,300 people from 130 countries – including Sierra Leone. The 6-day programme consisted 270 sessions with the Theme: Water for society – including all”. Two of the highlights of the event were the Stockholm Water Prize ceremony, and the Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition honouring outstanding young people between the age of 15 and 20 who have made an innovation in the water sector. 23 countries were represented this year in the Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition but only Nigeria and South Africa represented Africa as a whole. I was fortunate to meet with the Stockholm Water Prize winner, Dr Jackie King during the conference.

JackieKing

Meeting Dr Jackie King, winner of the 2019 Stockholm Water Prize

The conference gathered many experts, practitioners, decision-makers, business innovators and young professionals from a range of sectors and countries. It featured many interesting sessions, of which I was fortunate to attend the following, and learn and interact with many water professionals:

  1. Shared and Public Toilets: Equitable access everywhere
  2. Joined-Up thinking: Sanitation in the Broader context of slum improvement
  3. From success to scale: improving rain fed agriculture in Africa
  4. Entrepreneurship driving water impact for all (3/3)
  5. Water and Sanitation solutions for the people left behind
  6. Remote WASH: Quality and Lasting services for rural communities
  7. Entrepreneurial model for rural, domestic water for all
  8. Sanitation for Society, including for all (1/3)
  9. Safely Managed Drinking Water Services for Rural People, where I served as a panelist

Here are some of my highlights of World Water Week:

Shared and Public Toilets: Equitable access everywhere

This session was very important especially for organizations and individuals that have interests in rural communities for water and sanitation. The presenter was able to clearly outline the shared sanitation model as it is important when considering household access as well as access outside the home. Toilet/latrine access is a challenge in the African region especially in institutions (schools, religious buildings, medical or other institutions). However, with this model, it can reduce the disparity greatly as it considers students, workers and anyone who lives outside their home.

According to the presenter, the quality of these services is often poor, because of limited monitoring standards, and the funding needed for such work is inadequate. The presenter made it very clear that shared sanitation is not just a service needed at one’s home but people need to access safely managed sanitation facilities, while they are away from home, whether at school, work, a market, or anywhere else they might go.

A pitching competition for 9 young water professionals

Thanks to the Water Youth Network for organizing an interesting and educative short pitching competition among nine young people, who work in the water sector.  In fact, the group work was so amazing after the problems were presented to participants with the aim to discuss and offer solutions on how to make sure that water supply projects use an entrepreneurial approach to overcome inclusion challenge. We also talked about the difference between water accessibility and use.

Presentation4

My pitch at the Water Youth Network event

Key projects highlighted during the discussion were mini-grid piped water schemes in Bangladesh, scalable water services in Uganda and a Football for Water project in Kenya (Aqua for All), all reaching rural, poor, underserved households. During the various young water professionals’ presentations, I was able to learn about the impacts colleagues are making in their various countries to improve access to water and sanitation.

Safely Managed Drinking Water Services for Rural People – the Last Mile

This was one of the most important sessions for me during World Water Week in Skockholm. I served as a panelist, representing the rural communities among other personalities from the WASH sector with the topic: “Safely Managed Drinking Water Services for Rural People”.

Benson4.png

Speaking as a panelist with Clarissa Brocklehurst (Water Institute at UNC) and Peter Harvey (UNICEF)

I shared my experience using the EMAS technologies in the Sierra Leone context. The EMAS technology is a self-supply concept that entails local public or private initiatives by individuals, households or community groups to improve their own WASH supplies, without waiting for help from governments or non-government organizations. Self-supply is more about self-sustained initiative, rather than donor subsidies or external support. It empowers individuals and communities to gradually improve their WASH supplies at their own pace with regard to technical and financial capacities. Once the basic services are available, families make their own decisions on how to improve those services based on affordability and technical capacities at local level.

The most interesting part about this session was the mixed backgrounds of the presenters (knowledge, skills, cultures, etc.). All were centered on the water crisis and solutions with an emphasis on sustainability, affordability and accessibility for everyone everywhere.

Finally, the different presentations were able to examine the various technologies and hand-pump types that are utilized in various countries and provided evidences for technology options that can yield much for ease of maintenance, accessibility and sustainability.

Conclusion

Participating in World Water Week has been a great opportunity for me to present my work, make contacts, and contribute my perspective as a young professional from Sierra Leone. I am looking forward to staying in touch with some of the people I met during World Water Week, and hopefully this will help me on my mission to provide safe water in rural communities in my country.

Since coming home I have created my own group for young water professionals in Sierra Leone. I am trying to connect with other young professionals in Sierra Leone, to see how we can come together and contribute to the water sector. Any young professional interested in water in Sierra Leone is welcome to join here. I believe we can do a lot!

2019-08-25 09.23.30 Benson and Kenneth

Meeting with RWSN Young Professional Kenneth Alfaro Alvarado from Costa Rica

And the winner is… or the tale of how difficult it is for a young professional from Sierra Leone to attend World Water Week

We were very happy to announce Benson Kandeh’s nomination as the winner of the RWSN@WWW competition last month. However, we unfortunately received the news that Benson will be unable to attend the SIWI World Water Week conference, as he was denied a visa to travel to Sweden. This is a huge disappointment to him and to us.

We thought we should take this opportunity to highlight the hurdles that Benson, and other young professionals like him, have to overcome to attempt to attend a conference in Europe or North America. As development professionals, we should aim to cater and build capacity in-country in the water sector, and especially for young professionals. Conferences, workshops and training courses are crucial for building professionalism. Benson’s story highlights how difficult it is for a young professional from a fragile country, such as Sierra Leone, to attend the most important annual global conference in the water sector in development.

The issue is not only to do with the fact that he was not granted a visa – the difficulties for him to obtain this visa in the first place were prohibitively expensive and time consuming. The only place for Sierra Leone nationals to apply for a visa to Sweden are Nigeria and Morocco – and they have to apply in person. Benson had to travel more than 2,000 kilometres from Freetown to Lagos, and put his life on hold while waiting for a decision on his visa in a foreign country for almost two weeks. Admiringly, Benson managed to make the most of his trip by working on improving an unprotected well in the community where he was staying in Lagos.

The problem is not limited to the water sector: African academics and development professionals face arbitrary decision-making by immigration authorities. In the UK, the Royal African Society has compiled a number of disturbing findings about the barriers faced by African professionals. However, as development professionals, we have an obligation to ensure that we are building capacity in developing countries. This is why we are proud to have organised the RWSN Forum in low- and middle-incomes countries since its first handpump technology workshop in Kenya in 1992 and most recently in Côte d’Ivoire in 2016.

In the face of increasingly toxic political discourse on immigration, it is incumbent on all of us not to turn a blind eye, but communicate the benefits of international and intercultural exchange and cooperation and put pressure on over-zealous immigration authorities. In parallel, international development events should be organised where they are most needed and most accessible, to allow more water professionals like Benson to participate in international development conferences.

UPDATE! (from the RWSN Secretariat): We lodged an appeal against the decision to deny Benson his visa with the Swedish migration authorities. The Swedish embassy in Abuja overturned the ruling based on our appeal on 16th August, and this decision was upheld by the Swedish court. Benson should therefore be able to get his visa and attend World Water Week – so watch this space for updates from our winner!

And the winner is…

This year, RWSN is offering the chance for a young professional to attend Stockholm World Water Week.

From 25 June- 9 July 2019, we ran a competition to find a young professional with a knack for communicating complex topics to broad audiences, social media –savviness, and a passion for working on water issues at the local level. Their mission: to attend and disseminate the information relevant to young people to RWSN members via our social media accounts, online communities and blog – but also to share their story or experience in relation to the Theme of World Water Week: Water for Society – Including all.

We received over 20 entries from all over the world, from Cambodia to Peru via South Africa – all of them really inspiring from some amazing young people from around the world.

And the winner is… Mr Benson Kandeh, from Sierra Leone!

The jury thought that Benson demonstrated creativity and commitment through his social media posts highlighting his day-to-day work as a young professional in Sierra Leone, working on self-supply in remote areas to provide water for all. He shared videos and photos of his work, and also wrote a summary story post explaining his views on what ‘Water for Society – including all’ means to him.

Benson’s reaction on winning RWSN’s World Water Week competition:

After reading the email stating the result and me being the winner, I was shocked! It was like a dream! I am very thankful and excited to share my efforts, while learning from other international participants and water professionals. This opportunity will help increase my knowledge of the water sector and apply it in my professional activities in rural water supply in my country, Sierra Leone.

Benson will be reporting from World Water Week and sharing his perspectives with our members through our blog and social media account. He will also share his experience with World Water Week attendees through a talk at the RWSN booth (C10) on “Providing safe water for all in Sierra Leone: experience of a young professional” (day and time tbc). If you are in Stockholm, call by our booth to meet him!

Thank you to all the participants who took the time and effort to enter this competition. There were so many interesting stories, and we will share a few of our top entries here on the RWSN blog in the lead-up to Stockholm World Water Week.

For more information on RWSN’s activities for Young professionals, please see here. We thank the Swiss Development Cooperation for making this support possible.

 

The Top 10 RWSN Blog Posts in 2018

The RWSN Blog provided us again with some exciting posts in 2018. From sustainable water resources and community management, to solar-powered water pumping, to (manual) borehole drilling, and to rural water services – the range of topics offers diverse and insightful perspectives on rural water supply issues.

Here are some of the most popular blogs in 2018:

  1. Sustainable water resources management in Sri Lanka: present situation and way forward
  2. Three common myths about solar-powered water pumping
  3. “The borehole is not a madman” 3 reasons why Community Based Management demands a rethink
  4. Manually Drilled Wells: Providing water in Nigeria’s Megacity of Lagos and beyond
  5. Borehole drilling supervision in Malawi: why it is essential, not optional
  6. For rural Tanzanians, water has a social value too
  7. Tracing a path to sustainable rural water services in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  8. Still barking up the wrong tree? Community management: more problem than solution
  9. Sharing experiences of data flows in water and sanitation – some reflections from AGUASAN Workshop 2018
  10. Achieving Professional and Sustainable Drilling in Madagascar? Yes, we can!

Find more blog posts

Find the newest blog posts here: RWSN Blog

Write your own Blog posts on rural water supply

Feel free to send your text and one or more pictures (if possible) in an e-mail with the subject “RWSN Blog Post” to ruralwater@skat.ch

 

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.

madagascar

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.

Feedback2

madagascar2

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.

 

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.