Measuring water point functionality is trickier than you’d think. Here’s how we tried to make it more reliable in Uganda.

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 is a guest blog by Daniel W. Smith, a Water & Sanitation Advisor at the Center for Water Security, Sanitation, and Hygiene at USAID in Washington, DC.

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 problem became painfully apparent during a recent study of professionalizing handpump maintenance in Uganda conducted by the Program for Water, Health, and Development at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and International Lifeline Fund. Our data collection team had a seemingly straightforward instruction: Count a handpump as functional if it provides water. But different data collectors interpreted the instruction differently. Some would count a handpump as functional even if it took a long time to get a little water. Others counted handpumps in a similar condition as nonfunctional. We needed a clearer, more reliable procedure to ensure that handpump functionality measured by different people would be comparable.

Continue reading “Measuring water point functionality is trickier than you’d think. Here’s how we tried to make it more reliable in Uganda.”

Obituary: Dr. Otto Langenegger – Kloss (22 April 1938 — 19 February 2023)

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.

His sister, Rosa Massey-Langenegger.

Addressing rapid handpump corrosion: the story of the Ghana Modified India Mark II

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.

Ghana Modified India Mark II Drawings and Specifications

More information about Ghana Modified India Mark II (external website)

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.

Photo credits: Claus Riexinger

Online learning on groundwater – strengthening capacity in African member states and beyond

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 NetworkCap-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.

Face to face training course on drilling supervision
in Sierra Leone (Source: Kerstin Danert)

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.

Artesian well near Lake Chad, Chad
(Source: Moustapha Diene

What next?

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  info@rural-water-supply.net.

Should we manage to get these courses off the ground, we will announce them through the Africa Groundwater NetworkCap-Net UNDP and the Rural Water Supply Network as well via LinkedIn.

Funded by

Partners

The EMAS WaSH technologies –­ experiences, achievements and future goals

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 EMAS WaSH scheme include various Do-It-Yourself technologies like the EMAS manual pump, manual well drilling up to 90 metres, water storage tanks, and VIP toilets among others. All technologies have been in constant development since the 1990’s. They have been implemented in more than 25 countries, mostly in Latin America and Africa. The RWSN library hosts documentation and assessments of the use of EMAS technologies in Uganda, Sierra Leone, Panama and Bolivia amongst others.

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.

Some of the main technologies include:

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.

Stop the rot: evidence and action for handpump quality

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.

Estimated proportion of the total population relying on handpumps for their main drinking water supply

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.

RWSN updates February 2022 and upcoming events

Dear RWSN members

We hope you all had a great start to 2022. The year is already going in full swing, and we would like to share some RWSN updates and upcoming events with you. 

My name is Tommy Ka Kit Ngai and I am the Head of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at WaterAid UK. At the RWSN Executive Steering Committee on 27 January, I was honoured to accept the role of RWSN Chair for the remainder of WaterAid’s tenure. I have been a RWSN member for about 10 years and have always been encouraged by the unwavering commitment of fellow RWSN members to collaborate and support each other in bringing sustainable and reliable water supplies to all rural people.  Collectively, we have a world-leading, immense pool of knowledge and experience in rural WASH.  I am thrilled to be here. I look forward to learning from and working alongside with all of you.   

Thank you, Louisa Gosling and SDC 

  • It is with much sadness that Louisa Gosling stepped down as Chair of RWSN due to health issues as of December 2021. We thank her so much for her great leadership and passion for the network, and in particular, she worked tirelessly with the Leave no One Behind theme and has been a great advocate of RWSN over the last ten years. We wish her strength and good health in her next chapter. 
  • The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has supported this network since the beginning when we were founded as the Handpump Technology Network in 1992. Thanks to their steadfast partnership, RWSN has grown from a mailing list of a few dozen engineers to a diverse, global network of nearly 14,000 individuals and more than a hundred organisations in 167 countries. The RWSN Strategy, Roadmap and ongoing governance review are setting the network on an exciting new path and we will share more details in future updates. SDC’s strategic orientation is shifting and with it our modality of collaboration. We thank the SDC Global Programme Water for providing exceptional support over the last 30 years, and to Dr Daniel Maselli in particular who has been a great ally and guide over the last few years. Switzerland remains committed to improving global water security and we look forward to continuing our partnership in new ways. 

 
Welcome to Ndeye Awa Diagne, Dr. Amita Bhakta, WHO and USAID – and “Data for Action” 

  • Ms Ndeye Awa Diagne (“Awa”) has joined the RWSN executive committee. Awa is a Water and Sanitation Specialist at the World Bank in Washington DC, with 10 years experience, including 6 with the World Bank and 2 at the Société Nationale des Eaux du Sénégal. Her current responsibilities include managing the Bank’s internal community of practice on rural WASH. Linkedin  
  • New Leave No One Behind (LNOB) theme co-lead Dr. Amita Bhakta. Amita is a Freelance Consultant in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH); Website: Amita Bhakta – Hidden WASHLinkedIn   
  • Welcome to our new RWSN project partners, USAID, who are funding REAL-Water, a five year research programme on rural water headed by Aquaya Institute with KNUST Ghana, ATREESafe Water NetworkAguaconsult and Water Mission
  • We are delighted to be collaborating with WHO as they prepare to finalise and publish “Guidelines For Small Drinking-Water Supplies: Policy Guidance And Supporting Tools”. Look out for more updates later in the year! 
  • Finally, the RWSN Theme “Monitoring and Mapping” will be changing its name to  “Data for Action”; the change will be effective over the course of this year. 

    Upcoming events 
  • On 22nd March we celebrate World Water Day. This year the theme is “Groundwater: making the invisible, visible”. You can take part in the celebration and raise awareness on groundwater by checking the website: https://www.worldwaterday.org/. There are many materials available for download to share with your community and networks, raising awareness on groundwater. RWSN also has a wealth of resources related to Groundwater, see below. 
  • 9th World Water Forum, Dakar – RWSN is delighted to be hosting French/English Session 2A4 on Rural Water Supply Management Models in Room 3 at 9am on 22 March. For those coming to the Dakar, we look forward to welcoming you to this great session, with interesting case studies from Morocco, Madagascar, Senegal, Ghana and Uptime and panellists including the Director General of Water from the Government of Spain. https://www.worldwaterforum.org/  
     

    RWSN resources related to Groundwater 
  • Does your organisation drill boreholes, or perhaps fund others to drill?  If so, check out the wealth of materials on borehole drilling on the RWSN website: https://tinyurl.com/waterdrilling 
  • Do you want a quick, and easy introduction to borehole siting, supervision, procurement and drilling itself?  If so, then watch these very short animated films (available in English and French): https://vimeo.com/channels/drilling 
  • Want to know about how to unlock the potential of groundwater in Africa, then check out this short film: https://vimeo.com/582160363 
  • Are you looking for ways to support access to groundwater at a low cost? Then you should find out if manual drilling is an option? This is a good place to start: https://www.rural-water-supply.net/en/sustainable-groundwater-management/manual-drilling 
  • Want to learn about professional drilling from other RWSN members and partners? There is an archive of presentations and webinars available here: https://vimeo.com/channels/1432819 
  • Do you have questions or concerns about using solar-powered water systems to pump groundwater? This is a good place to start: https://www.rural-water-supply.net/en/sustainable-groundwater-management/solar  

     

    New Groundwater Publications from RWSN and in collaboration with others 

    Dr Kerstin Danert, co-lead of Sustainable Groundwater Development Theme has been extremely busy over the last year and involved in lead and co-author roles on several key publications that will be published over the next month:  

Best regards,

RWSN Chair and secretariat

Rural Community Water Supply: Sustainable Services for All

Covid-19 gave me the chance to commit to paper (or electronic form, if you prefer) some of my understanding and experience gained over several decades. The outcome is a book, published earlier this year, entitled Rural Community Water Supply: Sustainable Services for All.

by Professor Richard C. Carter

Richard encountering some resistance in Kaabong, Uganda (photo. RC Carter)

Many hundreds of millions of rural people – the exact number is not known, and it is immaterial, except that it probably lies between one and two billion – experience inadequacies in the supply of the water which they use for drinking and other domestic uses.

These inadequacies are partly reflected in the ‘normative criteria’ as defined by the human right to water which apply to water services globally. These criteria ask whether and to what extent water services are available, accessible, affordable and acceptable, and whether their quality meets national or international standards. They also highlight the importance of cross-cutting criteria (non-discrimination, participation, accountability, impact, and sustainability).

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Stop the rot – action research on handpump quality in sub-Saharan Africa

Premature corrosion and failure of water supply hardware, particularly handpumps, is widespread in countries within Sub-Saharan Africa, but evidence is limited and largely anecdotal. If drillers are not assured of quality handpumps in country, how can they install pumps that provide water users with the services that they deserve? For the tens of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa who depend on handpumps to meet their daily water needs, handpump failures threaten their health and livelihoods. 

In cases where communities receive a handpump or components of substandard quality, parts may rapidly wear. If components of the wrong material or inadequate quality are installed in aggressive groundwater, the water supply may not function properly or can fail. Alternatively, the water may not be suitable for drinking. If the handpumps fails, or if water is turbid, discoloured, or has a metallic taste, users may return to using distant or unsafe water sources. If handpump components wear prematurely, communities can incur unnecessary costs in trying to fix the problem. 

A new initiative by Skat Foundation and Ask for Water GmbH under the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) strives to find ways to ensure that handpump technologies and spare parts that are installed for drinking water in sub-Saharan Africa are consistently of high quality and can last.

The initiative runs up to March 2022 and will:

  • Document the scale and extent of the problem of handpump corrosion and poor-quality components in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Understand the handpump supply chains for one country, analysing strengths and weaknesses.
  • Raise awareness of problems of handpump corrosion, poor-quality components alongside practical solutions for water users, drillers, governments, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and others.
  • Catalyse action through ongoing engagement of international organisations, national governments, research organisations and other stakeholders to catalyse actions to tackle the problem.

The initiative will examine corrosion (see box), quality assurance procedures and supply chains. It seeks to draw out successful or innovative ways of ensuring that users benefit good quality handpumps – consistently! If you would like to contribute to the initiative, especially by sharing your experiences and ideas, please contact Dr Kerstin Danert (ask @ ask-for-water.ch).

Box: Corrosion and handpump quality challenges

The twin challenges of how to ensure the quality of handpumps and how to prevent rapid corrosion of certain pump components have been discussed for over four decades. Corrosion of below-ground handpump components was documented in the 1980s. Research concluded that galvanisation of pump riser pipes and pump rods does not prevent corrosion where the pH < 6.5 and provides limited protection for pH 6.5 to 7. In light of this, programmes have switched riser pipes and pump rods to stainless steel or switched to uPVC riser pipes and stainless-steel pump rods, while some countries standardised on pumps which aims to be fully corrosion resistant by using a uPVC rising main and stainless steel, or fibre glass pump rods. Unfortunately, handpump corrosion problems and concerns over handpump component quality persist. The extent of the problem is not fully known because of relatively little research on this topic, coupled with a lack of information available in the public domain. 
This article first appeared in GeoDrilling International (March 2021)

La planification, l’acquisition de marché et la gestion des forages: un référentiel de l’UNICEF est maintenant publier en français !

La planification, l’acquisition de marché et la gestion des forages: un référentiel de l’UNICEF 

est maintenant publier en français !

Cet outil guide le personnel de l’UNICEF chargé des programmes et des ressources tout au long du cycle de vie d’un projet. Il suit une séquence logique sur les pratiques d’achat de l’UNICEF et formule des recommandations sur les processus (appel d’offres ou demande de proposition de services), les critères d’évaluation, les clauses contractuelles, les devis génériques, les termes de référence et les approches contractuelles visant à des services techniques pour déterminer l’emplacement et la construction de forages et la supervision de travaux de construction (français et Anglais).

Borehole Drilling – Planning, Contracting & Management: A UNICEF Toolkit is now also available in French!

This toolkit guides UNICEF programme and supply staff through the life of a project. It follows a logical sequence on UNICEF procurement practices and provides recommendations on processes, evaluation criteria, contract provisions, generic bill of quantities, terms of reference and contractual approaches to seek technical services for siting of boreholes, borehole construction and supervision of construction works (English – French).