How far has devolution come in Kenya?

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There is more to UPGro than rocks… for groundwater to benefit the poor, African governments need evolve and improve. Johanna Koehler, a doctoral researcher at Oxford University (Gro for GooD), reports on her experiences last year with Kenya at The Third Annual Devolution Conference,  Meru, Kenya, April 2016

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Johanna Koehler giving a statement (Photo: Oxford)

Devolution is here to last! This message was delivered loud and clear at the Third Annual Devolution Conference in Kenya, organised by the Council of Governors. In three years this conference has become an important gathering of national and county government representatives, academia, private sector and civil society to discuss the benefits and challenges of devolution. A brief I wrote on water policy choices of Kenya’s 47 county governments sparked interest among national and county governments and led to an invitation to share key findings at the conference to an audience of over 6,000 people.

Continue reading How far has devolution come in Kenya?

Looking back: 2016 Kenya fieldwork

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from Gro for Good newsletter 2

A comprehensive and efficient environmental monitoring network has been set up for the study area collecting relevant, timely and cost-effective data on rainfall, river flow and groundwater level and recharge. Data will be used in the development and running of a Groundwater Risk Management Tool, which will include a hydrogeological model. The model will be able to simulate and predict the effects of different levels of extraction and rainfall on the system, helping Kwale County to make plans to ensure that it has a good and sustainable water supply for people and industry.

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The project is making use of data on temperature, rainfall, humidity, air pressure, wind speed and direction from a number of automatic weather stations (AWS) installed in the project region. Much of the instrumentation has been provided by the Trans-African Hydro Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO) project, hosted in this region by Kenya Meteorological Services.

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River Flow Monitoring and Measurement

To understand the amount of water available in rivers and dams in the study area, various water level and discharge monitors have been installed. In particular, streamflow on the Mukurumudzi and Ramisi Rivers is being monitored to determine the water balance of the rivers at different points, enabling the researchers to understand and model groundwater inputs along these water courses.

River monitoring has been a great example of cooperation between project partners. As well as the existing staff gauge used by WRMA and Base Titanium to monitor flow in the Mukurumudzi River, the project has installed automatic water level loggers (Heron Logger) at two locations on the Mukurumudzi ((3KD06 – Shimba Hills – upstream and Irrigation Intake Works near Bomani Shopping Centre – downstream) and one on the Ramisi River at Eshu Bridge. These are complemented with manual staff gauges provided by WRMA Sub-regional Office in Mombasa. The instruments and staff gauges were installed jointly with WRMA/WRUA, Base Titanium, KENHA and the community. Flow in Ramisi River used to be monitored at Mwachande Bridge (3KD01) stage gauge by WRMA but the gauge has been vandalized and is not in operation.

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River Cross Section and Topographical Survey

A topographical survey was carried out at the river flow monitoring points at the Irrigation Intake Works (on the Mukurumudzi River) and at Eshu Bridge (on the Ramisi River) and measurements of cross section of the river were taken.

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The information will be used to facilitate flow measurement and permit the researchers to develop a Flow Rating Equation and Curve for each site, a key element of the hydrological model.

Surveyors and Survey Equipment at Eshu Bridge during cross section and topographical survey, May 2016 Cross-section of 3KD06 Weir on Mukurumudzi River, Shimba Hills. The figure below is the result of the river cross-section survey at the weir where water
flow is monitored and estimated for the Mukurumudzi River (by Base Titanium, WRMA
and Gro for Good) to aid water resources planning and decision-making. The weir structure also enables the consented abstraction of water by Shimba Hills Community Water Supply project which provides water to Shimba Hills shopping centre and its environs.

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Groundwater hydrochemistry

The chemical composition of groundwater provides useful information about the flow of water into and through the underground aquifers. Chemical and biochemical analysis also allow us to monitor substances which affect the safety and taste of drinking water. Three groundwater sampling campaigns have now been completed, involving the collection and analysis of water from open wells, rivers, handpumps and deep boreholes.

The first campaign was in September 2015 (wet season after the short rains; 81 sampling sites), the second was in March 2016 (dry season, fewer points sampled due to some wells/boreholes being dry) and the final sampling campaign in June 2016 at the end of the wet season (long rains), thus providing information about seasonal variation in water quality and on the process by which the aquifers are recharged following rain. A total of 43 groundwater sites are under fortnightly monitoring for groundwater static level, pH, temperature and conductivity.

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Sample pH, electrical conductivity, temperature, dissolved oxygen and redox potential (ORP) were measured during fieldwork using a flow cell so that the water did not come into contact with air. Other parameters analysed in situ were alkalinity, ammonia levels and faecal bacteria. Samples were also taken to Spain for laboratory analysis to indicate major ions, trace metals, water isotopes (deuterium and oxygen 18) and Total Organic Carbon.

Only very few points contained ammonia, nitrates or trace metals. However, most of the open wells contained high levels of faecal bacteria. The results will be explained in detail in the next newsletter.

Geophysics

by Julius Odida, PhD candidate, University of Nairobi

Geophysical methods (ground-based physical sensing techniques) are used to provide information about sub surface geology. The Gro for GooD project is using both electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) and vertical electric sounding (VES) to identify and characterize the aquifers (water-saturated sub-surface rocks) which lie beneath Kwale County. Over the past year, a number of geophysical surveys have been conducted by a team from University of Nairobi, WRMA and Rural Focus Ltd. The study involved four phases: planning/desktop studies, reconnaissance, actual data acquisition and report writing. Lower resistivity may indicate water saturation and/or fracture zones in the rock. We present a preliminary interpretation of some results below.

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Policy: Devolution & Water Services in Kenya

from Gro for GooD newsletter 2

Johanna Koehler, Gro for GooD researcher (University of Oxford) reports from Kenya’s Third Annual Devolution Conference, April 2016

Devolution is here to last! This message was delivered loud and clear at the Third Annual Devolution Conference in Kenya, organised by the Council of Governors. In three years this conference has become an important gathering of national and county government representatives, academia, private sector and civil society to discuss the benefits and challenges of devolution.

This year’s conference marked the end of the three-year transition period in March 2016, when all functions outlined in the 2010 Constitution became fully devolved. It is also a critical time politically as Kenya’s 2017 national and gubernatorial elections are approaching fast and competition over the Governors’ seats is rising.

The delegates passed 18 resolutions to reinforce devolution and hand over all devolved functions to county governments. Some of the contested functions were the water, health and irrigation sectors.

Water is one of the mandates divided between national and county governments; it remains a national resource, but water service delivery is now a county responsibility. As water crosses county boundaries, it is clear that national-level institutions are needed to navigate conflicts and regulate water service provision. However, counties are asking for more autonomy and there is a need to avoid duplication of efforts between the national and county institutions.

The research I shared at the conference shows that the water service mandate is interpreted differently by Kenya’s 47 counties. Counties do not equally acknowledge their responsibility for the human right to water, which entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water. This suggests a need for county water policies to be streamlined so that regional disparities don’t grow and transformative development is sustained.

These findings come from the unique opportunity I had to survey all 47 county water ministries in Kenya at a summit organised by the Water Services Trust Fund to develop a prototype County Water Bill. I found that while counties are making major investments in new infrastructure for water services (where the majority spend more than 75% of their water budgets), maintenance provision and institutional coordination are often neglected. This raises a concern about the sustainability of water services and could slow down progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal for water.

Overall, the conference provided an important platform for the key political actors to share progress made in Kenya’s devolution process, and also to flag new or existing challenges as county governments manifest their power. It is remarkable to see such a transformation in Kenya’s political system within the short timeframe of only three years. It seems the water sector will gain from these changes, but only the future will tell if these benefits are equitably shared.

Field update from Kenya

by Prof. Dan Olago, University of Nairobi in Gro for Good newsletter 2 2016

Welcome to the second edition of our project newsletter. There has been a lot of activity in recent months including: the completion of the installation and commissioning of the climate and hydrological monitoring network; two groundwater sampling campaigns in March and June; geophysical surveys to define the aquifer geometry and structure using both electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) and vertical electric sounding (VES) approaches; an anthropological survey related to determinants of use/non-use of the shallow wells installed with smart hand-pumps; compilation of a list of data sets for the project; and stakeholder engagement, both within the county and with stakeholders such as the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) and Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) at the national level. I will, however, here focus on the geophysical surveys.

The project team has been collaborating with WRMA personnel in carrying out the geophysical survey. The WRMA kindly made its ABEM SAS1000 Terrameter available to enable this exercise to proceed. The ERT surveys which were carried out in three phases in December 2015, January 2016 and May 2016 are now completed. The VES survey which started in mid July will be completed in early August. The main aim of the geophysical survey is to get a better handle on the aquifer geometry and structure, with a focus on where geological understanding is poor, and to delineate the shallow and deep groundwater systems. The outcomes of this activity will provide critical inputs to the hydrogeological flow model that is already under development. This model will be integrated into the groundwater risk management tool to promote improved groundwater governance balancing economic growth, groundwater sustainability and poverty reduction, and taking into account the competing demands for domestic, agricultural and industrial uses of the resource.

The fieldwork has not been without incident; some unknown person cut off and went away with about 70m of cable and this slowed down the working pace, and we had to take on more local personnel to guard the cable layout to avoid any further losses. Heavy rains at times also meant that work had to be delayed or stopped altogether on some days. Overall, these incidents notwithstanding, it has been a great team building experience. The daily interaction between the team members fostered valuable knowledge exchanges and lifelong skills enhancement in geophysical surveying.

UPGro at the RWSN Forum

Groundwater is critical to rural water supply – for many uses and in many parts of the world, not just in Africa. Therefore understanding of aquifers and how to use them sustainably is essential to tackling rural poverty.

So that is why we will be at the 7th RWSN Forum next week in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, to present the work of UPGro and to network with delegates from all over Africa (and the world) on how interdisciplinary research in African groundwater can deliver tangible benefits.

Highlights to look out for:

We look forward to seeing you there!

This is why there is a handpump in the car park – and what it has in common with a jet engine

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On 17th September, the mystery surrounding the Samrat handpump which has been installed in the car park of Oxford University’s School of Geography and the Environment was revealed. Learn more about the pump’s research purpose at www.oxwater.uk/oxford-smart-handpump.html or download the presentation below.

Why is there a handpump in the car park?

carparkpump

Invitation to launch event 17 October at 5-6pm

About the Smart Handpump

Delivering reliable drinking water to millions of rural people in Africa and Asia is an elusive and enduring global goal. A systematic information deficit on the performance of and demand for infrastructure investments limits policy design and development outcomes.

Since 2010, the ‘Smart Handpump’ project has been exploring new technologies, methods and models to understand and respond to this challenge. A mobile-enabled data transmitter provides foundational data on hourly water usage and failure events which has enabled the establishment of performance-based maintenance companies in Kenya that are improving handpump reliability by an order of magnitude.

The research is a collaboration between the School of Geography and the Environment and the Department of Engineering Science with a range of partners including government, international bodies such as UNICEF and the private sector. New research involves modelling the accelerometry data from the handpumps to predict aquifer depth.
We invite you to test the Smart Handpump in the car park and debate how the ‘accidental infrastructure’ of rural handpumps can spark bolder initiatives to deliver water security for millions of poor people in Africa and Asia.

17 October 2016 at 5-6pm
Hertbertson Room and the Car Park, School of Geography and the Environment, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QY

World Water Week

Dr Rob Hope presenting 2016 SIWI Work Water Week, Stockholm (photo: J. Koehler)

After making a big splash last year, the UPGro presence at SIWI World Water Week 2016 has been relatively low key. However, Dr Rob Hope (Oxford) presented the exciting work from the UPGro/REACH research they is being done in Kenya.Download the presentation:

Hope_Performance-based finance for drinking water security_30Aug2016

Also presenting during the week was Dr Callist Tindimugaya, from the Ministry of Water & Environment Uganda, who who recently accepted the invitation to become an UPGro Ambassador. Dr Tindimugaya is one of the foremost groundwater specialists in Africa and is not only the Commissioner for Water Resources Regulation in Uganda, but also vice-President of the International Assocation of Hydrogeologists (IAH) for Sub-Saharan Africa, a key figure in the Africa Groundwater Network.

…and Roadsforwater.org was mentioned as a successful and replicable example of rainwater harvesting for groundwater recharge as well as for green water capturing at the Malin Falkenmark Symposia (thanks to Jenny Grönwall of SIWI/T-GroUP who was a panelist in that session)

The Smart Handpump comes to Oxford

The Smart Handpump borehole was drilled to a depth of 7m on the 21st of May. (photo: University of Oxford)

from: http://www.geog.ox.ac.uk/news/articles/160526-smart-handpump.html

The ‘Smart Handpump’ was developed in 2011 by a team at Oxford University with a field-ready prototype starting operational trials in Kenya in 2012. These trials demonstrated proof-of-concept for remote monitoring of handpumps using simple microprocessor, accelerometer and global system for mobile communications (GSM) components. Smart Handpumps provide hourly data related to pump usage, providing information on functionality as well as insights into daily and seasonal water use patterns.

In 2014, a preliminary analysis of the high frequency accelerometer data to show that the “noise” generated by pumping also contains useful information. High-rate waveforms from the data can be processed using robust machine learning methods that are sensitive not only to the dynamics of the whole system but also the subtle interaction between the user and the pump. The small changes in pump dynamics and the subtle reactions of the user become a prominent signal in determining the deterioration of pump mechanics and imminent failure. This same signal can also be used to for shallow aquifer monitoring at the pump and user phenotyping.

The SoGE borehole is drilled to 7m and will have a Samrat handpump installed. This suction pump is commonly used at shallow wells in Bangladesh. The different dynamics of this pump, compared to current studies on deep well Afridev pumps in Kenya, will enable researchers to build a more robust predictive algorithm that is able to distinguish across multiple pump types, user characteristics, and aquifer variabilities.

These data will be used to produce a low-cost predictive maintenance system that is scalable across large rural regions. This work is being supported by UNICEF, funded through a competitive tender process, as part of their Product Innovation portfolio. Field testing will be conducted in partnership with UNICEF country programmes in Eastern and Southern Africa.

By retrofitting a simple and inexpensive device to a standard pump handle the smart handpumps are able to pro-actively monitor the condition of handpumps and ensure that millions of people can have access to a reliable water source.

Take a look at the video to see our work in Kwale County in Kenya in action.

This project is a collaboration between Oxford University’s Engineering Department and Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the School of Geography and the Environment. In addition to UNICEF, the Smart Handpumps work is supported through REACH – Improving Water Security for the Poor and Gro for GooD – Groundwater Risk Management for Growth and Development, both major research initiatives funded by DFID and the UK Research Councils.

 

Securing safe water through Cloud Computing

Handpump in Kwale, Kenya (Oxford University)

reblogged from the Microsoft Research blog

Kenji Takeda, Solution Architect and Technical Manager, Microsoft Research

Jacob Katuva used to get up at dawn to cycle 12 miles from his village to collect water with his uncles and cousins when he was growing up in Kenya.  Now he is part of a research team at Oxford University using cloud computing and mobile sensors to monitor water wells and help ensure that thousands of villages in rural Africa and Asia have a safe, secure supply of water.

Continue reading Securing safe water through Cloud Computing