:: New UPGro paper :: Rainfall and groundwater use in rural Kenya

Thomson, P.; Bradley D,;Katilu;Katuva J.;Lanzonia, M.; Koehler J.; Hope, R. Rainfall and groundwater use in rural Kenya, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 649, 1 February 2019, Pages 722-730

Key Points

  • As part of the Gro for GooD study in Kwale County, Kenya, UPGro researchers noticed then when comparing data collected from 266 Smart Handpumps and 19 raingauges that:
    • there was a 68% reduction in pump use on the day immediately following heavy rain, as well as
    • a 34% reduction in groundwater use during the wet season compared to the dry season, suggesting a large shift from improved to unimproved sources in the wet season.
  • This data was compared to household survey data collected by the researchers, and the relationship between rainfall and pumping was modelled and tested.
  • In this area rainwater harvesting was widespread and only 6% of households reported handpumps as their sole source of drinking water in the wet season, compared to 86% in the dry season.
  • Whilst rainwater harvesting can be a safe source of water it requires the collection and storage to be well designed and built.
  • This work provides empirical evidence that the existence of improved water supplies does not guarantee their use and health benefits may not be as expected.

:: New UPGro Paper :: Tryptophan-like fluorescence as a measure of microbial contamination

A new paper has been published from the UPGro Gro for GooD project, working in Kenya, which develops the work done under the UPGro Catalyst Project on mapping groundwater quality, which developed an exciting new low-cost, real-time method of measuring microbial contamination of groundwater.

Context:

  • Globally, 25% of people lack access to water that is free from microbial contamination, in some countries the proportion is much higher.  This has major health implications, particularly for children.
  • Monitoring water quality for disease-causing organisms is difficult, and the common method is take water samples to a lab to measure Coli bacteria. Although largely successful, it is an expensive in terms of time and materials, and cannot be relied on for some kinds of biological water quality risks – particularly in groundwater where the absence of E.Coli does not guarantee biological safety of the water.
  • Tryptophan-like fluorescence (TLF) is a relatively new way of rapidly measuring biological water quality in the field, without needing expensive and time-consuming lab equipment and consumables. It is better suited to groundwater than surface water monitoring.

Key Points: –

  • This is the first groundwater study to compare TLF with E. Coli specifically.
  • Tryptophan-like fluorescence (TLF) can complement E. coli as a risk indicator, but it is not proposed as a replacement.
  • Both TLF and coli distinguish low/intermediate, high and very high risk sources.
  • TLF has negligible variability due to the method, unlike bacteriological analyses.
  • TLF is useful for pre-screening, monitoring and demonstrating risk in groundwater.
  • Fieldwork for this research was done in rural Kwale Country, Kenya
  • Next steps include:
    • focus on how TLF relates to pathogens and health, rather than just focusing on the coincidence with E.Coli.
    • better understanding of TLF in different groundwater conditions
    • better computer software of processing and presenting TLF data
    • assess the usefulness of TLF in communicating water risks to groundwater users.

Read the full paper (open access) here:

Nowickia, S.,  D. J.Lapworth, J.S.T. Ward, P. Thomson & K. Charles (2019) Tryptophan-like fluorescence as a measure of microbial contamination risk in groundwater, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 646, 1 January 2019, Pages 782-791 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.07.274

If you are interested in finding out more on safe water and water quality monitoring then you watch these RWSN webinar recordings from late last year:

  • Safe water in towns and peri-urban areas: challenges of self-supply and water quality monitoring: https://vimeo.com/266654585
  • La salubrité de l’eau dans les villes et zones péri-urbaines: le défis liés à l’auto-approvisionnement et le suivi de la qualité https://vimeo.com/266649345

Gro for GooD “Smart Handpumps” wins Oxford University Vice-Chancellor’s Award

From: www.ox.ac.uk/research/vice-chancellors-innovation-awards

The Vice-Chancellor’s Innovation Awards seek to recognise and celebrate exceptional research-led innovations and products at all University levels that are having societal or economic impact.

The initiative attracted a total of 78 entries, from which four winners were chosen and a further 13 projects highly commended across four categories: team work, building capacity, inspiring leadership and early career success, before an overall winner was selected from the shortlist.

The overall winner was the Smart Handpumps initiative – an innovative technological response to water shortages and handpump service maintenance issues in Africa.

Led by Professor Robert Hope, Associate Professor at the School of Geography and the Environment, a multi-disciplinary team of academics created and installed an electronic device in the handpump’s handle, which automatically alerts maintenance providers when remote sites are damaged or broken.

UPGro early careers researchers share experiences on an international platform

Compiled by Isaiah Esipisu, PAMAC news agency http://www.pamacc.org 

Five African early career research scientists took to stage at the 41st Water Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC)’s International Conference at the Egerton University in Kenya to showcase ongoing research achievements so far under the UPGro project.

Drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and Ethiopia, the young researchers discussed some of the complex social science, physical science and practical issues given their experience in two research areas namely Gro for GooD, through which scientists are developing a groundwater risk management tool in Kenya, and Hidden Crisis, which is unravelling current failures for future success in rural groundwater supply.

“Am not shy to say that it is my first time to participate in a research of this magnitude,” said Willy Sasaka, Assistant Hydrogeologist from the Rural Focus Company, which is coordinating the Gro4GooD research in Kenya.

Guided by scientists from the University of Nairobi, Oxford University, the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, and the University of Barcelona, the research project has led to the discovery of two paleochannels in Kenya’s Kwale County, which is the main source of groundwater that drives the tourism industry along Diani beach, serves residents of Ukunda, and supports a large scale irrigated sugarcane farming initiative in Kwale among others.

Sasaka made his presentation alongside his colleague, Suleiman Mwakuria, who explained how the scientists have been able to involve the local community in the research, including students who help in reading rain gauges among other things.

Patrick Makuluni, a geologist from Malawi talked about functionality and failures of boreholes in his country, showcasing slides to show how scientists have been able to identify reasons why boreholes fail soon after they have been sunk.

“Millions of pounds of investment by water users, charities and tax-payers are wasted each year by water points failing soon after construction,” he told delegates at an event organised by RWSN on the sidelines of the WEDC conference. “Getting a more complete understanding of how to keep water flowing from boreholes will reduce waste and improve water services for Africa’s poorest communities,” said Makuluni.

So far, the Malawi study, through which the scientists dismantled 50 functioning and dead boreholes to examine the underlying causes of failure, has already come up with preliminary findings.

“We found out that one of the causes of borehole failure was vandalism,” said Makuluni. Other boreholes were abandoned due to poor water quality, some due to poor maintenance; others were silted, while in some cases there were governance problems.

However, the young scientist noted that the researchers are yet to do data analysis, compile results, make reports and disseminate the findings.

Yehualaeshet Tadesse, a young female scientists from Ethiopia, presented a similar case, but focusing on social causes for poorly functioning water pumps in her country.

In Ethiopia, 170 water pumps in nine districts were surveyed in the first phase of the research project, where it was found that a lack of village level operation and maintenance skilled manpower was one of the contributing factors for water pump failure.

“We also found out that water pumps located in areas with alternative water sources such as springs, streams, private water scheme were poorly maintained,” said Tadesse.

She pointed out that pumps on non-communal land were often neglected, and as well, communities with limited finance and savings did not manage their boreholes well.

In Uganda, Joseph Okullo from Makerere University talked about rainfall variability, and how it affected groundwater in his country.

“Rainfall chloride concentration was interestingly found to be higher during drier season,” he told the WEDC delegates.

Sean Furey introducing African Early Career schientist at a WEDC side event

Above: Sean Furey (RWSN) introduces the research conducted by the UPGro Early Career Researchers.

The 41st WEDC International Conference is co-hosted with Egerton University, on Egerton main campus (near Nakuru) in Kenya between July 9 and 13, 2018. The conference is a valued and respected platform for reflection, debate and exchange of knowledge and ideas that are rooted in practice.

Photo credits: Isaiah Esipisu

 

 

Young scientist seeks to understand link between access to groundwater and poverty

Interview by Isaiah Esipisu, PAMAC news agency http://www.pamacc.org

Jacob Katuva is a doctoral researcher at the University of Oxford’s School of Geography and Environment.  His research focuses on community groundwater access and poverty in Kenya. Katuva holds a M.Sc. in Environmental and Biosystems Engineering from the University of Nairobi and a B.Sc. in Water and Environmental Engineering from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

Previously, the scientist spent over four years working as a consultant in engineering and development in the Eastern Africa region. He has vast experience in design-construction-operation and management of community rural water supply schemes, hydrological analyses, rainfall-runoff modelling and water balance models.

His experience in water resources management covers water resources assessments, developing and linking Management Information Systems (MIS) and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and advanced geo-statistics to water resources planning and management as well as hydropower feasibility studies, evaluation and impact studies of WASH programs, rural water supply and pollution studies in the context of the mining, irrigation and the water sectors in rural Kenya.

Q. How did you get involved with the UPGro project?

I joined UPGro back in 2013 when I was consulting with Rural Focus Ltd during the implementation of the catalyst project led by Oxford University. I was heavily involved in the set-up of the environmental monitoring network and the socio-economic surveys. This provided a great deal of natural and social science data regarding groundwater level and quality, water usage, health and welfare indicators paving way for an interdisciplinary study. I ended up applying for the D.Phil. programme at Oxford University to research groundwater and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa with a particular focus on coastal Kenya. I was fortunate to obtain additional funding from Base Titanium, a mining company working in Kenya which is one of the partners in Oxford University’s UPGro consortium project Gro for GooD.

Q. Tell us about your studies at the Oxford University and how it relates to the UPGro project

My research at Oxford University explores the links between groundwater and poverty. Understanding groundwater and poverty linkages is critical to unlocking the potential of groundwater for poverty reduction. Central to accelerating and sustaining Africa’s development is improving the understanding of how improved access to groundwater resources can benefit the poor. This includes identifying the role of groundwater on productive uses such as livestock watering and crop irrigation, examining the relationship between poverty and changes in groundwater levels, and understanding how groundwater dependency and access to sufficient, affordable, reliable, safe, good quality water and physical access are linked to the socio-economic development of households. These dimensions are pertinent to policy and practice in poverty reduction.

Q. What are some of the early findings for your research?Nyumbasita Pump.jpg

There is evidence that the depth of boreholes and poverty are associated: We saw wealthier households being associated with deeper groundwater sources while poorer households were associated with shallower wells and boreholes. However, due to the cumulative nature of the volumetric data from the handpump water data transmitters (http://www.oxwater.uk/technology.html) we could not disassociate the handpump usage per household since the transmitter, similar to a water meter, recorded the volume abstracted for each handpump and not volume abstracted by each household.

Q. What kind of advice would you give to the County Government of Kwale about groundwater, given your experience so far?

The UPGro project has generated pertinent knowledge on water services delivery in Kwale County and has identified pathways to poverty reduction. Two of the preliminary findings in Kwale include the discovery of paleochannels in Msambweni, empirical evidence of the benefits of smart monitoring and privatized professional maintenance and repair services on rural water supply infrastructure.

This discovery of paleochannels by Professor Olago of the University of Nairobi and his team, can accelerate achieving universal and equitable access to safe drinking water services for the County population. County should invest time and resources in understanding this resource and how it can be exploited to meet the ever-growing water needs for the county.

The County government should embrace the professional maintenance and repair services on rural water supply infrastructure to ensure rural communities, health centres and school children enjoy equitable access to safe drinking water.

This model of maintaining rural water services has been developed and tested in Kwale and Kitui County with positive results. The model is called the FundiFix model and more details can be found here: https://reachwater.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Fundifix-booklet-WEB.pdf. To accelerate poverty reduction, the County government should ensure borehole drilling and equipping standards are adhered to, communities water infrastructure receive preventive maintenance and professionalized repair services to keep water flowing.

Q. What is your message to upcoming scientists who are interested in your area of specialization?

I would urge upcoming scientists in Kenya to progressively broaden their research to incorporate both the social and natural sciences. Integrating the two, thereby widening our understanding of the socio-ecological systems, will lead to the development of much more effective policies informed by the needs of the people.

Q. What are your future plans beyond the UPGro project?

Part of my future plans includes seeing the completion, implementation and operationalization of the findings of the UPGro project here in Kwale so that our groundwater resources can benefit everyone here, in particular the poor. In addition I will be excited to contribute to framing the poverty reduction policies and strategies for the County building on the evidence emerging from the longitudinal socio-economic studies over the last four years.Carrying water

Interview by Isaiah Esipisu; Images by Nancy Gladstone/Gro for GooD project

New Research Digests – get up to speed…fast

If missed recent papers published from the UPGro Gro for GooD study, then you can get up to speed with the key points in these new briefs from Oxford University:

Risk factors associated with rural water supply failure: A 30-year retrospective study of handpumps on the south coast of Kenya
A critical mass analysis of community-based financing of water services in rural Kenya
Evaluating waterpoint sustainability and access implications of revenue collection approaches in rural Kenya

and from related non-UPGro research:

A multi-decadal and social-ecological systems analysis of community waterpoint payment behaviours in rural Kenya

Back to school: the future of water starts here


Speed Read:

  • New educational resource developed by the Gro for GooD team launched for secondary schools in Kwale County, Kenya to increase understanding of groundwater and water quality
  • Outreach to schools teaches girls and boys about water science and management
  • Event held on 17th March to celebrate the collaboration between the UPGro team, the schools, local government and private sector partners.

 

“You have a very great opportunity through your water clubs, guided by your teachers who are here and who can support you. We should take this as a very special opportunity for all of us” 
Water Module - Student Resource
Water Module – Student Resource

The UPGro Gro for GooD project has been delivering a programme of engagement to teach young people in Kwale County about water science and management. Water Clubs at 3 secondary schools have been participating in field trips, practical activities, experiments and conducting their own group research projects. This outreach work aims to develop students’ research and communication skills and showcase career options in the water sector.

In the run up to World Water Day 2018, the Gro for GooD project was delighted to welcome Madam Bridget Wambua, Director of Education for Kwale County, Kenya, to provide opening remarks (extract above) at a special event to celebrate the success of the Schools Water Clubs supported by the project over the last year. As the event got going, students listened with great interest to the keynote speech by Prof. Dan Olago from the University of Nairobi, and then took to the stage themselves for a series of presentations about club activities including water quality testing of school waterpoints, the installation and use of rain-gauges on school grounds, and field trips to the Base Titanium mine to see how the mine manages and recycles water in its operation.

Video extract from Prof. Olago’s speech

Other students presented their own mini-research projects into topics such as water conservation in agriculture and strategies for keeping water safe to drink, and one group gave an excellent explanation of artesian wells based on an email exchange with Gro for GooD hydrogeologist Mike Lane.

Students also brought practical demonstrations and posters to show in the teabreak, including a solar still demonstration from a group of students who had just heard that they are through the local round and have been invited to show their improved solar still design at Kenya’s National Science Fair for schools.

Madame Wambua and Professor Dan Olago then presented the schools, water clubs and club patrons with certificates of appreciation for their hard work and dedication to water-related environmental education, and 2 laptops were given to each club. The laptops were provided by the UK charity IT Schools Africa and preloaded with water-related environmental education resources collated by the Gro for GooD team.

Students also received print copies of a newly published Water Module Student Resource which was developed by the Gro for GooD research team with input from students and teachers at the schools. Mr Joseph Kimtai, teacher and club patron at Kingwede Girls Secondary School, said,

“I find this module of activities about water so helpful to the students – it complements what we are teaching in class. It also encourages critical thinking and solving problems related to the environment which is in line with one of the competencies of the incoming competency-based curriculum for Kenyan schools.”

The resource has been published under a Creative Commons licence so that other educational programmes in Kenya can make use of the content.

Co-author of the Water Module, Nancy Gladstone, said:

“It has been a privilege to work with secondary school students in Kwale County and help to meet their really encouraging thirst for knowledge about water. Education has a vital role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal for water and we are sure that many of these students will put their learning to good use at school and as they go on to jobs and further education.

“The Water Module event also provided us with an opportunity to thank the teachers, headteachers and local partner organisations such as Base Titanium and Rural Focus Ltd. who have all been critical to the success of the clubs this past year, and to contribute to discussions about building the water module into ongoing education programmes in Kwale County, both formal and informal, so as to reach more students and further enhance learning.”

 

 

Further info:

Groundwater is essential for economic growth and can contribute to human development if resources are used sustainably to benefit the poorest in society. The Gro for GooD (Groundwater Risk Management for Growth and Development) project is striving to help government and groundwater users find a management approach that balances human health, economic growth, and resource sustainability demands and benefits everyone. Project partners are University of Oxford, University of Nairobi, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Rural Focus Ltd., Kwale County Government, the Government of Kenya’s Water Resources Authority, Base Titanium and KISCOL.

For more information please contact:

Photo: Presentation of certificates by Madam Bridget Wambua, Director of Education, Kwale County (Photo: P. Thomson, University of Oxford)

Long lasting rural water supplies in tough environments: lessons from Kenya

by Dr Tim Foster (from the Oxwater blog)

Having just published the fourth instalment in a series of papers examining rural supply sustainability on the south coast of Kenya, it is timely to reflect upon some of the common threads that emerge from these related but discrete studies. Throughout our investigations we have examined rural water sustainability – and the determinants thereof – from all sorts of angles, including repair timehousehold financial contributionsrevenue collection longevitywater source preferences, and – most recently – operational lifespan.

Continue reading Long lasting rural water supplies in tough environments: lessons from Kenya

New UPGro paper: “Risk Factors associated with rural water supply: A 30-year retrospective study of handpumps on the south coast of Kenya”

2018 promises to be really interesting one as the UPGro (Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor) reaches maturity. There is already a lot published since 2014 (https://upgro.org/publications-papers/peer-reviewed-journal-papers/) and here is a new one, which will be of interest to RWSN members – as it has been written by active RWSN members:

“Risk Factors associated with rural water supply: A 30-year retrospective study of handpumps on the south coast of Kenya”

By Tim Foster, Juliet Willetts, Mike Lane, Patrick Thomson, Jacob Katuva, Rob Hope

Key Points

  • This paper build on previous handpump & water point functionality work done by RWSN, the UPGro Gro For GooD and UPGro Hidden Crisis projects and recent analysis by the University of North Carolina
  • Research focuses on 337 Afridev handpumps installed in Kwale County, Kenya, under a SIDA financed programme between 1983-1995 that were identified and mapped in 2013 (out of 559 recorded installations by the programme in that area).
  • 64% were still working after 25+ years
  • They conclude that risk of failure increases most significantly in relation to:
    • Salinity of the groundwater
    • Depth of the static groundwater level
    • When the water comes from an unconsolidated sand aquifers
    • Distance to spare parts suppliers

You can read and download the paper here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969717337324

and https://upgro.org/consortium/gro-for-good/

Supplementary info and water point data:

And in case you missed it – this is another recent paper that is readable and useful, albeit more for urban/peri-urban areas and small towns:

Grönwall, J. & Oduro-Kwarteng, Groundwater as a strategic resource for improved resilience: a case study from peri-urban Accra S. Environ Earth Sci (2018) 77: 6. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12665-017-7181-9

 

Figure: Kaplan-Meier estimates of the survival functions for Afridev handpumps in Kwale.

UPGro researcher, Prof John M. Gathenya expands horizons with TU Dresden Fellowship

During 2017 UPGro Gro for GooD researcher, Prof John Gathenya, from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Nairobi (Kenya) was appointed  Senior Fellow at the School of Civil and  Environmental engineering of the Technical University (TU) Dresden.

Prof. Gathenya visited TU Dresden from 15-29 May and 29 October-11 November 2017. In the first visit, he was in a team of staff and PhD students from hisdepartment. He presented a case study on Sasumua Payments for ecosystem services project at the International Dresden Water, Soil and Waste Nexus Conference organized by UNU-FLORES and was also a panelist in one of the forums in the conference.   At the Institute of Soil Science and Site Ecology, Prof. Gathenya did presented in seminars and held meetings to advise PhD students.

During the second visit he participated in Centre for International Postgraduate Studies of Environmental Management – CIPSEM 72nd Soil & Land Resources International Course. He presented on Payments for Ecosystem services as a tool to catalyze adoption of sustainable land management.  He had meetings with some professors and university administration such Vice Rector for research and chair hydrosciences department.

Currently the institute of Soil Science and Site Ecology and his department area involved in a project on assessment of sediment deposits in reservoirs using multi-frequency echo-sounding techniques and some staff and PhD students are engaged and we hope to grow our collaboration by writing proposals to German and EU funding agencies. The Institute of Soil Science and Site Ecology has good experience setting and equipping field research sites for studies in soil and water management and Prof. Gathenya hopes to draw on this expertise in future especially in connection with our engagement with the Kenyan Upper Tana Water Fund Project.