3 ways to improve water security for climate resilience

1. More accurate and granular analysis of climate risk is needed to increase relevance of climate information
2. Metrics for monitoring climate resilience in water systems are critical to track progress and inform investments for water security
3. New institutional models that improve water security will be critical for climate resilience

Dr. Katrina Charles, REACH Co-Director

In case you missed it, last week REACH launched its new Water Security for Climate Resilience Report, synthesising six years of interdisciplinary research on climate resilience and water security in Africa and Asia. You can also read a summary of the full report with recommendations.

The REACH programme has been partnering with RWSN since 2015.

Water security and climate resilience are interlinked.

This may seem like a simple statement, but in reality it is a complex relationship. Water security and climate resilience are both about managing risks – from water-related issues and climate-related hazards, respectively – to achieve better outcomes for all sectors of society. There are intuitive relationships at large scales, but underlying them are complexities shaped by the environment, and our interactions with it.

Climate change headlines often focus on temperature increases. These changes will be significant and have severe impacts as highlighted by the heatwaves in recent weeks in North AmericaPakistan and India. These increases in temperature come with dramatic changes to our weather, in turn affecting the complex water systems that are essential to so much of our lives and our planet. Floods and droughts are the most visceral example of this impact, which also receive regular coverage on the news. But climate change is affecting water security for humans and ecosystems in many more subtle ways.

Climate change is impacting our drinking water supplies. There is a limit to how much capacity they have to absorb weather extremes, especially for smaller systems. Heavy rainfall is linked to many major waterborne outbreaks in developed countries. A major drought led to severe water rationing in Cape Town in 2018, nearly causing the city’s taps to run dry, known as Day Zero. The report highlights that for smaller water systems that people outside cities rely on the impact of weather is often less clear, but the evidence is that there is limited climate resilience.

Water quality varies with weather. Rainfall increases the mobility of faecal contamination, with different types of system more vulnerable to heavy rainfall, exposing the users to diseases such as typhoid. Without reliable water supplies, people use a range of water sources to meet their water needs year-round, trading off risks between reliable water supplies that might be saline or expensive, with seasonal but unsafe water sources. Climate change will increase weather extremes leading to increased contamination and less reliability.

Fresh water scarcity is increasing. Industrialisation and urbanisation are increasing both the demand for fresh water and its pollution, with toxic compounds that are difficult to remove. Climate change is amplifying these threats by reducing the availability of reliable water, increasing salinity, especially in coastal areas, and changing river flows that flush saline and polluted water. Reduced river flows from changing rainfall patterns will increase exposure to pollution for those who rely on river water for washing and bathing, and increase saline intrusion from the coast. Building resilience requires better management of fresh water resources to reduce the increasing contamination that is making water harder to treat.

Women using river water for washing in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Credit: Sonia Hoque
Women using river water for washing in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Credit: Sonia Hoque

To build the adaptive capacity of water systems to cope with changes in climate, climate information needs to be available to water managers at the appropriate spatial and temporal scale. Ensembles of global climate models provide useful information about global climate, but analysis is needed to identify the relevant climate models that best capture local climate. More investment is needed to provide the tools that water managers need to make informed decisions to increase climate resilience, such as accurate projections at local scales and seasonal forecasting based on understanding of local climate drivers. The information needed varies for different users, but is critical to build resilience for managers of small water systems, reservoirs, and basins.

The report synthesises six years of interdisciplinary research by the REACH team across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Collaborations in our Water Security Observatories have allowed us to understand how water security risks are experienced, how inequalities are created and reproduced with new policies, and how new tools and science can support better decision making. The report highlights the impact the REACH programme has achieved with funding from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), in partnership with UNICEF, for the benefit of millions of people. It concludes with three recommendations for to advance water security for climate resilience:

  1. More accurate and granular analysis of climate risk is needed to increase relevance of climate information
  2. Metrics for monitoring climate resilience in water systems are critical to track progress and inform investments for water security
  3. New institutional models that improve water security will be critical for climate resilience

Climate change will increasingly affect water availability and quality, with devastating consequences for the most vulnerable. Improving water security is critical to build resilience to the changing climate.

RWSN/ REACH consultancy opportunities: your questions answered

On 30.11.2020 RWSN advertised two consultancies in partnership with the University of Oxford under the REACH programme (deadline for applications: 8th January 2020). The Terms of Reference for the consultancies are below:

We have received a number of questions in relation to these consultancies which we would like to respond here, to so that all applicants can refer to them.

  1. Q: In the Terms of Reference, the essential qualification and age limit is not mentioned. Please inform us so that we know the eligibility criteria.

A: There are no essential (university) qualifications or age limit for these positions. All essential requirements are detailed in the ToRs.

2. Q: Kindly send to me necessary forms or information to enable me apply

A: You can download details via  https://rural-water-supply.net/en/news/details/86  or here: https://reachwater.org.uk/about-reach/jobs/

3. Q: Is the offered position as “Researcher – Global Diagnostic on Rural Water Services” intended for one person? Or otherwise, could an organisation like the one I am part of apply?

A: Our thinking is that this is better suited to an individual, who can focus on the task rather than it being fragmented across a team. However, we are open to more creative solutions.

4. Q: I am interested in submitting an application to one of the consultancy opportunities for the global diagnostic of rural water service providers under the REACH programme. Now before I go any further I would like to get a better understanding of the programme and this assignment. By rural water service providers, do you mean (a) community members that have been trained to repair hand pumps (b) water utility companies, public and/ or private and/ or (c) rural water supply and sanitation units under the district or local authority?

A. The first point we need to clarify is that the proposed consultancy for the diagnostic of rural water supply providers is global in nature, and that arrangements will likely differ depending on the countries that are chosen for the study. For RWS providers to be considered, there would need to be some data related to basic operational and financial performance available to enable comparison between rural water service providers within and between countries. This would therefore  probably mean that community members could not be considered, but rather (public and/or private) service providers with adequate data and scope of operations. This could mean for instance in the rural water supply and sanitation units under the district or local authority, or water utilities if they operate in rural areas. One of the first tasks under the consultancy will be to propose a typology of service providers (see activity 2 in the ToRs) that would enable us to determine exactly who/ which type of organisations we should target with the diagnostic.

5. Q: I have a question on one requirement in the desired experience section. In the sentence, “Experience in advanced data analytics, mapping and modelling, including GIS”: 1. Is there a specific model that RWSN would like the prospective consultant to use or can the  prospective consultant select a model of their choice? 2. Are there parameters that RWSN would like the prospective consultant to use or can the prospective consultant select parameters they think would be informative to the study? 

A. 1.       There is no specific software that we would recommend to use for data analytics, mapping and modelling, and GIS but we would prefer that the consultant uses open-source software (e.g. QGIS) as we will not support the costs related to licenses for private software.

2.       We would recommend that the prospective consultant thinks about potential parameters for data analytics, mapping and modelling as part of his/her proposal.

6. Q. Could you please clarify the following:

  1. Geographic scope  – the TOR and clarifications point to a global study, but the TOR highlights REACH’s work in Africa and Asia. Is the study likely to focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, or is the intention to gather examples of RWS providers from a much wider group of countries (including those in Eastern Europe given the reference to that consultancy).
  2. Survey scope – can you clarify what the scope of the surveys is likely to be? Our assumption is that this would be online surveys of rural water service providers only (e.g. no household surveys, or attempting to survey service users). Is this correct?
  3. Definition of advanced analytics – Do you have any examples of what you mean by ‘advanced analytics’? It may be challenging to get a high number of responses and in-depth answers to an online survey (particularly as the number of eligible RWS is unknown) which would limit the complexity of any analysis and/or modelling that would be possible.
  4. Intensity of inputs – an earlier clarification was that the thinking of RWSN/REACH was this consultancy was best suited to an individual. Given that, the timeline, the scope of the project, and the budget available to you envisage that this will be (more or less) a full time role?

A.

  1. The intention is to gather examples of RWS from a wide group of countries/ geographies, not restricted to SSA and South Asia.  
  2. The survey is intended to be conducted remotely / online (no household or service user survey). The Marketing consultant will support this exercise to ensure that there is a wide variety of RWS providers who respond to the survey; responsibility for data collection and analysis remains with the diagnostic Consultant.
  3. Advanced analytics: as you said this will depend on the quality of data collection, which is a risk we are hoping to mitigate through the Marketing consultant. For your proposal you could perhaps suggest what you might be able to do given ideal/ less than ideal data.
  4. Intensity of inputs: the intensity of outputs for this consultancy will depend on the level of experience of the consultant/ team.

We will continue answering your questions here as they come along. Any questions can be addressed to ruralwater[at]skat[dot]ch.

(Photo credit: REACH)

Getting to the heart of climate resilient WASH

by Dr John Butterworth, IRC WASH Ethiopia – re-posted with permission

Climate resilient WASH is about new ways of working across the traditional humanitarian and development sectors. We went to one of the harshest spots in Ethiopia, and surely in the world, to find out more.

Photo: An existing water point in Afdera, Afar

Continue reading “Getting to the heart of climate resilient WASH”

RWSN Update – September 2016

 

If you are having trouble reading this then download the more readable PDF version: ENGLISH / FRANÇAIS.

Pour les francophones – Si vous souhaitez recevoir le bulletin trimestriel en français, veuillez nous écrire un e-mail à ruralwater @ skat.ch intitulé Bulletin Trimestriel en français.

English

The late Ton Schouten: 1955 – 2016

The sudden loss of Ton Schouten in May 2016 came as a shock to many of us, and sitting here looking at his photo I find myself still not quite believing that he has left; thinking that he might just call, send a message, or that we may bump into each other in the corridor of a sector meeting.

We miss you Ton. I think that you would have gazed with eyes wide, stood with ears pricked at the farewell given to you by your family, friends and colleagues in Delft on the 30 May. We learned so much about other parts of your life; your rich and full life. A life of listening, of caring, of giving, of philosophising and of humour. You touched the hearts and minds of people in so many places, and from multiple walks of life. Thank you Ton. Thank you.

Patrick Moriaty (CEO, IRC) helped us to know more about Ton in his tribute, so allow me to borrow from him: Ton worked with IRC for more than 17 years, and was equally a leading figure in the WASH sector, a steadfast champion of the cause of sustainability and above all of an approach to development that was based on respect and support to national actors and institutions. During his time at IRC, Ton led Triple-S (Sustainable Services at Scale), RiPPLE and SMARTerWASH and supported IRC’s Ghana country team. Ton brought his original passion for film making to IRC, producing the Seventh Video in 2000, a compilation of lessons on community water management from Nepal, Pakistan, Cameroon, Kenya, Colombia and Guatemala. Ton later used clips for another video “What if?”, which illustrated the concepts behind the Triple-S initiative. Other significant works that Ton co-authored include “Doing things differently: stories about local water governance in Egypt, Jordan and Palestine” (2008) and “Community water, community management: from system to service in rural areas” (2003). In recent years Ton became a champion of sector monitoring as a critical building block for national ownership and sustainability. It was with great pride that he organised IRC’s 2013 international symposium on “Monitoring sustainable WASH service delivery” in Addis Ababa. The outputs of the symposium formed the basis for a state-of-the-art book on WASH monitoring, for which he was co-editor: “From infrastructure to services: trends in monitoring sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services”.

Many RWSN members sent their condolences and wishes, which we passed onto IRC and Ton’s family. Thanks to all of you. There is an online condolence register on www.memori.nl/ton-schouten.

Ton’s departure as our chair has certainly been felt. However he has left his mark, fired us up with ideas, and so as we nominate a new chair in the coming months and move forwards, we will keep on carrying the bright torch that Ton handed us – particilarly of listening to RWSN members – and enabling you, the membership to engage more with one another and keep on improving water supply services in rural areas.

 

Dr Kerstin Danert, Director RWSN Secretariat

 

HEADLINES

Continue reading “RWSN Update – September 2016”

RWSN Update – April 2016

The RWSN quarterly newsletter – April 2016

If you are having trouble reading this then download the more readable PDF version: ENGLISH / FRANÇAIS. Pour les francophones – Si vous souhaitez recevoir le bulletin trimestriel en français, veuillez nous écrire un e-mail à ruralwater @ skat.ch intitulé Bulletin Trimestriel en français.

WORD FROM THE CHAIR

Dear RWSN members and friends, dear colleagues,

Knowledge sharing and learning is critical to establishing and delivering water services that last. Advances in communications technology have made this easier than ever at a global scale. I hope that you have taken advantages of RWSN’s online discussions, webinars and publications – and we know from the feedback that you have given us, that you do value these exchanges.

However, even with such powerful online tools, nothing beats meeting people face-to-face. It is an opportunity to strengthen links with past and current collaborators, and hopefully find new partners for the work ahead. That is why the RWSN Forum is such an exciting opportunity for sharing.

The agenda is set by you, the members, and the contributions that you have submitted.  Complemented by regional pre-events in Peru and Thailand, the 7th RWSN Forum in November will be a truly global event – and it brings together people with a common purpose, which is expressed clearly in the RWSN Vision:

“of a world in which all rural people have access to a sustainable and reliable water supply which can be effectively managed to provide sufficient, affordable and safe water within a reasonable distance of the home.”

At the last Forum, way back in 2011, delegates agreed on the 10 Kampala Commitments.  The 7th Forum, this year, gives us an opportunity to reflect on these, the progress we have made, what needs to be done, and what we have learned. Do we still hold to the same principles, or has thinking and experience taken us in a new direction?

Be part of this conversation and I look forward to welcoming you to Abidjan on 29 November.

 

Ton Schouten, Chair

Continue reading “RWSN Update – April 2016”

Peering over the fence – how water security can bring business and rural communities together

RWSN/REACH blog post by Sean Furey, Skat Foundation (02.03.2016, Zurich, Switzerland)

 In 2015, the World Economic Forum ranked water as the global risk with the greatest potential to impact economies over the next 10 years. So what are companies doing to assess and manage these risks – and could their efforts benefit or worsen the livelihoods for rural people?

The first part of this question was addressed at a GreenBuzz lunchtime presentation on 2 March, by Tilmann Silber and Naomi Rosenthal from South Pole Group and Dr Julian Kölbel from ETH Zürich, entitled Water Management Beyond the Fence: Holy Grail or Wishful Thinking?”

Flower farms near Entebbe 4

(photo [S.Furey, 2012]: flower farms near Entebbe, Uganda –
how do companies manage water risks that effect them,
and impacts they have on others nearby?)

Continue reading “Peering over the fence – how water security can bring business and rural communities together”

Funding opportunity – Water Security

Happy New Year!

Let’s start 2016 with a bang:  a call for expressions of interest (EOIs) for ‘Catalyst Grants’ which are commissioned under the REACH programme.

Dr Katrina Charles explains the REACH Catalyst Grant process
Dr Katrina Charles explains the REACH Catalyst Grant process (click picture to see YouTube video)

These Catalyst Grants of between £10,000 and £50,000 each are designed to explore novel approaches to water security and poverty research and policy that complement the core research conducted by the REACH programme. These grants will promote the co-production of effective tools and technologies relevant for and adopted by policy makers, practitioners, civil society organisations and enterprise.

There are three themes for this call:

  1. Water security for vulnerable people
  2. Water security risk science
  3. Water security partnerships.

Continue reading “Funding opportunity – Water Security”