Jordan reaches out for support at the World Water Week in Stockholm 2015 – a water crisis that needs action

In previous years that I have attended the World Water Week in Stockholm I have never shed tears.  This morning was the first time. Alongside the current media attention about Calais in France and the erection of fences to stop migration, or seeking of refuge in the UK, the people of Jordan face a situation on a completely different scale. Jordan’s problem deserves not only much more media attention, but also much more action – and not just short term action!

Continue reading “Jordan reaches out for support at the World Water Week in Stockholm 2015 – a water crisis that needs action”

Zambia: Borehole Drilling Harming Ground Water

THE construction sector in Zambia is at an all-time high, with buildings springing up all around the country, particularly in urban areas.

It is a building rush cutting across commercial entities and private individuals who are investing heavily in picturesque houses.

This is a mark of how Zambians have learnt the advantages of becoming homeowners and, consequently, securing the future of their families.

Continue reading “Zambia: Borehole Drilling Harming Ground Water”

RWSN in Indonesia

So this week, I’m lucky enough to have been invited to present at the International Indonesia Water Week in Jakarta. RWSN is a global network, but many of you will have noticed the strong Africa-bias. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the challenges of delivering good quality rural water services are to be found everywhere – indeed the Pacific region is the where the biggest disparities between urban and rural are to be found [JMP].
Continue reading “RWSN in Indonesia”

RWSN Programme News – March 2015

UPGro – Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor

UPGro – Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor

Knowledge Brokers: Sean Furey, Kerstin Danert, Richard Carter, Bertha Camacho

UPGro – Unlocking the Potential for Groundwater for the Poor is seven year research programme that takes a social and natural science approach to enabling sustainable use of groundwater for the benefit of the poor. During 2013-14 there were 15 ‘Catalyst’ projects that are one year studies. This year a five ‘Consortium’ projects will get underway for the following 4-5 years. UPGro is funded by the United Kingdom through the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Department for International Development (DFID).

What happens when the wells run dry?

In the science journal, Nature, Professor Richard Taylor of the GroFutures UPGro project challenged readers to take groundwater depletion seriously put the case for why we need better science to understand complex recharge processes – before it is too late. His words echo that the World Economic Forum who place the Water Crisis as the number one risk, in terms of impact, facing the world today, and one of the most likely to occur.

Analysing groundwater storage changes in Benin & Burkina Faso

The Chronicles Consortium – a network of scientists collating and analysing multi-decadal groundwater-level records from across Africa under UPGro Groundwater Atlas with support from IRD – held a 3-day workshop from the 9th to 11th of February at the Laboratory of Applied Hydrology of the University of Abomey-Calavi (Benin) to examine long-term records of groundwater levels in Benin & Burkina Faso. Led by Professor Richard Taylor (UCL), Professor Moussa Boukari (University of Abomey-Calavi) and Dr. Jean-Michel Vouillamoz (IRD), participants included scientists from Burkina Faso (Dr. Youssouf Koussoubé, University of Ouagadougou) and Benin (Dr. Henri Totin, University of Parakou) as well as post-graduate students from the University of Abomey-Calavi.

The workshop focused on the use of long-term groundwater-level records (chronicles) to assess the responses of groundwater systems to climate variability and human activity (e.g. abstraction, land-use change, dam construction) in different aquifer environments and climate regimes. Key activities of the workshop included: (i) installation of automated water and air pressure dataloggers to enable high-frequency monitoring of groundwater storage responses, (ii) the evaluation of errors in long-term chronicles, and (iii) quantification of groundwater storage and discharge from recessionary trends in these chronicles. The chronicles provided excellent foci for critical discussion of current conceptual models of the operation of groundwater systems in Benin and Burkina Faso. Dr. Vouillamoz also presented new field determinations of groundwater storage co-efficients from the EU-GRIBA project to enable the quantification of groundwater storage changes from the chronicles.  The Chronicles Consortium plans to report on new evidence from collated long-term records and high-frequency monitoring at the 41st IAH Congress in Rome.

UPGro invited by UNICEF to present at the UN Zaragoza Conference

The UN-Water Annual Zaragoza Conferences serve UN-Water to prepare for World Water Day, which in 2015 will focus on “water and sustainable development” and celebrated the end of the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’, so it was especially important for taking stock of and learning from achievements as well as planning the next steps. In the theme “Academia contribution to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals related to water” on the 16th January, the was a session titled “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH): Tools for WASH implementation from an equity lens”, led by Jose Gesti-Canuto, with short presentations by three UPGro collaborators: John Chilton (IAH, Hidden Crisis), Sharon Velasquez-Orta (University of Newcastle, IN-GROUND) and Fabio Fussi (University of Milano-Bicocca, Remote Sensing for Manual Drilling)

Read more and find the presentations on the UPGro website

ODI event in London stirs up the groundwater debate

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) hosted a 1-day event, just as the last RWSN newsletter was going to press. The day was packed with great presentations and discussion, not just from the UPGro researchers also much wider sharing about the role of groundwater science and knowledge management in tackling deeply ingrained poverty. Video recordings of the event are now available online on the ODI website.

New UPGro Publications

Publications, reports, papers and presentations from the UPGro studies can be found on the upgro.org website.

RAIN – Rainwater harvesting for rural water supply and food security

Co-ordinators: Robert Meerman (meerman @ rainfoundation.org), Hans Merton (hans @ merton.nl). Join the rainwater harvesting community on Dgroups: dgroups.org/rwsn/rainwater  and follow on twitter at @rainwater4food.

Event: Symposium on Rainwater Harvesting in Ethiopia

RAIN are proud to inform you that in collaboration with SEARNET and AFRHINET, we will organise an international symposium on: ‘Unlocking the potential of rainwater with adaptive strategies and impacts for upscaling the technology’

1-12 June 2015 – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

In this symposium rainwater harvesting (RWH) will be assessed from three angles: Policy, Know-how and Training. The Policy angle will engage stakeholders from governments and INGOs and discuss how to incorporate RWH in policy frameworks, projects and programmes. The Know-how angle will gather academics and practitioners in writing about their projects and research. Finally, a practical training will take place most probably in the Dire Dawa area, which will focus on practicalities and discussions on various RWH/3R technologies.

Dates

High Level Policy Discussions: 1st – 2nd June 2015

Write-shop: 3rd – 5th June 2015

Practical Training: 8th – 12th June 2015

Information and registration

More information and details will come soon – but please find the first announcement here. We are looking forward to seeing you there – registration is now open!

Implementation: RAIN is expanding to Latin America

The ‘dry corridor’, that covers most of Honduras’ southern region, is highly vulnerable to climate change. Small-scale farmer families of the region depend on the availability of natural resources. However, they are the ones mostly affected by prolonged dry spells and water scarcity. This leads to a progressive increase in both the severity and the number of families affected by food insecurity. Remedy for these areas often stagnates, due to Honduras’ weak institutional structure, an elevated poverty rate and a high-risk security situation.
The Program for Communal Watershed Management of the Goascoran catchment (‘Programa de Gestion Comunitaria de Cuenca – PGCC’) seeks to alleviate this situation with:

  • Adequate Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction measures and
  • Strengthening local governance structures for integrated catchment management.

The Swiss development Cooperation (SDC) chose a Consortium, comprised of IUCN, iDE, FUNDER and RAIN to act as a Facilitator in this change-process. The Goal is to empower communities to face more extreme weather conditions by improved resilience to climate change and better living conditions of the inhabitants of the Goascoran basin. This will be achieved through enhanced production capacities: introducing effective irrigation schemes, water harvesting techniques and better market access, for an institutionally backed sustainable use of natural resources. RAIN will provide monitoring and evaluation of the project, knowledge management and communication and technical advice on 3R (water recharge, retention, reuse) and MUS.
You can read more on “Crop and income diversification via rainwater reservoirs and drip irrigation and for smallholder farmers in Honduras” in Marai El Fassi’s blog.

Implementation: 3R – Recharge, Retention and Re-use

WUMP+3R, Nepal

HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation Nepal, co-funded by RAIN, is implementing a program on the so-called WUMP (Water Use Master Plan) and 3R (Recharge, Retention and Re-use) in several villages in Dailekh district. The multiple year program includes the development and implementation of local water management plans including WASH, which are developed in close collaboration with the local government and communities. Due to the efforts of HELVETAS, Dullu was declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) on December 31 2014. For more information, please read the project update here. Another project update of HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation Nepal of the project in Paduka can be found here.

3R in Bahasa, Indonesia

Timor Tengah Selatan, on the island of Timor is one of the most water stressed areas of the Indonesia.  On the 3rd November 2014 in So’e, 60 people gathered at the government office to discuss the need for Recharge (Mengisi Kembali), Retention (Penyimpanan) and Re use (Penggunaann Kembali) of water. Maarten Onneweer of RAIN presented the results of a project implemented earlier that year by Bina Swadaya Konsultans and used this as example on how to integrate 3R in the projects of the Partners for Resilience Alliance in Indonesia.
Bina Swadaya Konsultans implemented a number of cost effective water harvesting technologies, adapted to the local situation and making use of locally available materials. These interventions followed from an earlier advisory mission of RAIN end of 2013. Results could already be seen and the overall enthusiasm for 3R had definitely increased. Organisations are now translating relevant parts of the book “Water harvesting, guidelines to good practices” in Bahasa to support their technical staff. You can read the full news item here.

Publications

Rainwater Harvesting: harnessing the storm Briefing Note on the RAIN-RWSN webinar series 2014 (S. Furey, 2014)

Social Dimension of Water Resource Management in Sri Lanka – Part 4

by Delgollage Senevirathne, Assistant General Manager (Sociologist) at the National Water Supply & Drainage Board (NWSDB), Sri Lanka.

(6) Awareness of aquifer as a finite resource

Groundwater comes from two main sources. When it rains water seeps down through the soil until it reaches an aquifer. These aquifers may also be in contact with rivers and streams allowing these surface waters to ‘drain’ into the aquifer. In some places these aquifers can also supply water to rivers and streams.   Groundwater is a finite resource and must be replenished or else it will eventually be depleted.

An aquifer is a body of water-saturated sediment or rock in which water can move readily. Water in the ground travels slowly through pores or fractures depending on the type of sediment or rock material that the aquifer is made of.

Continue reading “Social Dimension of Water Resource Management in Sri Lanka – Part 4”

Social Dimension of Water Resource Management in Sri Lanka – Part 3

by Delgollage Senevirathne, Assistant General Manager (Sociologist) at the National Water Supply & Drainage Board (NWSDB), Sri Lanka.

(3) Grass roots and high level approach to resolution

Community based approach to resolution of water issues relating to competition resulting in water shortages for some communities operating in downstream areas will need strategies for water allocation including mechanisms to ensure equity in distribution of available water among the user communities based on rational allocation criteria.  The water allocation policies at national and river basin levels will have to be formulated and implemented.   Water conservation will be a common approach for resolving of issues relating to water shortages and demand management will be a tool for managing the issues using strategies such as awareness creation among the community users, legal provisions, technology improvements etc.

Continue reading “Social Dimension of Water Resource Management in Sri Lanka – Part 3”

Social Dimension of Water Resource Management in Sri Lanka – Part 2

by Delgollage Senevirathne, Assistant General Manager (Sociologist) at the National Water Supply & Drainage Board (NWSDB), Sri Lanka.

Awareness raising of the need for water conservation and pollution prevention and efficient use of water

Water availability depends on rainwater and groundwater and constrained by two factors space and timely occurrence while it is being impacted due to excessive use and type of use. Excessive use is based on the limitations in availability of water in the specific locations while type of use will lead to pollution of water bodies and as it depends on the quality of return flows in both surface and ground water resources. Efficient use of water will play a major role when there are instances of demand exceeding supply and purpose of water use. Water use for Hydro-power generation will depend on the timely releases from reservoirs and will become a source for secondary usage such as irrigation and water supply schemes. There is an advantage in secondary use of water if the primary use is for Hydro power generation, as there will be no impurities that will be accumulated during in-stream use of water.

Continue reading “Social Dimension of Water Resource Management in Sri Lanka – Part 2”

Groundwater for the 21st Century: A primer for Citizens of Planet Earth

On returning from the Christmas and New Year break, I found a package on my desk from a publisher in the US. Inside was a copy of “Groundwater for the 21st: A Primer for Citizens of Planet Earth” by Dr John A. Connors.  Full disclosure: they asked for a review and a blog post in return.  As RWSN is all about promoting better understanding and use of groundwater, I don’t see a problem with this, so here we go:

My first question is why does this book exist? Groundwater is a critically important resource and one that is poorly understood. When I started my career as a young water resources officer in the UK, I was constantly amazed that even quite learned folk imagined great caverns and rivers underground.  Yes, you do get pretty, karstic limestone caves full of water, but that is a tiny fraction of the world’s groundwater resource.