THE BIG IDEA
Millions of pounds of investment by water users, charities and tax-payers are wasted each year by water points failing soon after construction. 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.
RESEARCH AIM / HYPOTHESIS
The underlying causes of rapid failure of approximately a third of African rural groundwater sources are complex and multi-faceted, but with interdisciplinary approaches can be understood, diagnosed and ultimately anticipated and mitigated.
Water point failure is a long standing problem – around 30-40% of water points, are estimated to be out of action at any one time and this failure rate has remained stubbornly high for decades. An UPGro catalyst study showed that there are many inter-related causes of failure, which depend on context. It is not a simple problem, so simple solutions, such as a new type of pump or more capacity development will not work on their own.
The study has five main objectives:
- To provide a nuanced definition of functionality of water points and water user groups which accounts for seasonality, quality and expectations, and is fit for purpose for tracking future progress towards new Sustainable Development Goals.
- To apply this new definition to 3 countries, Ethiopia, Uganda and Malawi, carry out field surveys for a statistically significant sample of water points, and relate results to larger ongoing studies of functionality to help update WASH coverage figures.
- To unravel the multifaceted factors governing source failure and success through detailed novel interdisciplinary science exploring the inter-relations between water point governance arrangements, engineering choice/performance, demographic, and groundwater conditions within a broader institutional and hydrogeological framework.
- To examine and forecast future rural water supply coverage by modelling the impact on water points of different future pathways, including groundwater recharge scenarios, different development approaches, and future rural water demand scenarios.
- To develop a dynamic approach for building resilience into future rural water supply programmes, through detailed interdisciplinary analysis of the datasets developed in 1 – 3, publish in a manual, and develop several pathways for uptake within the WASH community.
CATALYST PHASE →
- British Geological Survey (BGS), UK – Grant NE/M008606/1
- University of Sheffield (US), UK – Grant NE/M008738/1 // NE/M008738/2
- WaterAid (WA), UK & Global – Grant NE/M007960/1
- Makerere University (MU), Uganda – Grant NE/M007995/1
- Overseas Development Institute (ODI), UK – Grant NE/M008010/1
- Addis Ababa University (AAU), Ethiopia – Grant NE/M007936/1
- University of Malawi (UM), Malawi – Grant NE/M00810X/1
- University of Flinders (UF), Australia – Grant NE/M008029/1
- University of Cambridge (UC), UK
- BGS: Prof. Alan MacDonald (PI), Helen Bonsor (PM), Dr Paul Wilson.
- US: Prof. Frances Cleaver (co-PI), Dr Luke Whaley
- MU: Dr. Michael Owor (co-I)
- AAU: Dr Seifu Kebede (co-I)
- UC: Dr Richard Fenner (co-I)
- WA: Vincent Casey (co-I), Richard Carter
- ODI: Naomi Oates, Roger Calow (co-I)
- UM: Dr Geoffrey Chavula (co-I), Dr Evance Mwathunga (co-I)
- UF: Prof. Peter Cook (co-I)
UPGro Hidden Crisis reports
Survey 1 Country Reports
- Kebede, S.; MacDonald, A.M.; Bonsor, H.C; Dessie, N.; Yehualaeshet, T.; Wolde, G.; Wilson, P.; Whaley, L.; Lark, R.M.. 2017. UPGro Hidden Crisis Research Consortium : unravelling past failures for future success in Rural Water Supply. Survey 1 Results, Country Report Ethiopia. Nottingham, UK, British Geological Survey, 17pp. (OR/17/024). http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/516998/
- Owor, M.; MacDonald, A.M.; Bonsor, H.C.; Okullo, J.; Katusiime, F.; Alupo, G.; Berochan, G.; Tumusiime, C.; Lapworth, D.; Whaley, L.; Lark, R.M.. 2017. UPGro Hidden Crisis Research Consortium. Survey 1 Country Report, Uganda. British Geological Survey, 18pp. (OR/17/029). http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/518403/
- Mwathunga, E.; MacDonald, A.M.; Bonsor, H.C.; Chavula, G.; Banda, S.; Mleta, P.; Jumbo, S.; Gwengweya, G.; Ward, J.; Lapworth, D.; Whaley, L.; Lark, R.M.. 2017. UPGro Hidden Crisis Research Consortium. Survey 1 Country Report, Malawi. British Geological Survey, 19pp. (OR/17/046). http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/518402/
Political Economy Analysis Reports
- Rural water supply in Ethiopia Download
- Rural water supply in Malawi Download
- Rural water supply in Uganda Download
District Sustainability Assessments
- Executive Summary and DSA analysis Download
- Uganda DSA Country Report Download
- Malawi DSA Country ReportDownload
- Ethiopia DSA country report Download
- Bonsor H C, Oates N, Chilton P J, Carter R C, Casey V, MacDonald A M, Calow R, Alowo R, Wilson P, Tumutungire M, Bennie M. “A Hidden Crisis: strengthening the evidence base on the sustainability of rural groundwater supplies – results from a pilot study in Uganda” BGS report reference: OR/15/019
- Fallas, H. C., MacDonald, A.M., Casey, V., Kebede, S.,Owor, M., Mwathunga, E., Calow, R., Cleaver, F., Cook, P., Fenner, R.A., Dessie, N., Yehualaeshet, T., Wolde, G., Okullo, J., Katusiime, F., Alupo, G., Berochan, G., Chavula, G., Banda, S., Mleta, P., Jumbo, S., Gwengweya, G., Okot, P., Abraham, T., Kefale, Z., Ward, J., Lapworth, D., Wilson, P., Whaley, L. Ludi, E. 2018. UPGRO Hidden Crisis Research consortium: Project approach for defining and assessing rural water supply functionality and levels of performance. British Geological Survey (BGS) Open Report, OR/18/060, pp 25. http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/523090/
- Liddle, E.; Fenner, R.. 2018 Review of handpump-borehole implementation in Uganda. Nottingham, UK, British Geological Survey, 96pp. (OR/18/002) (Unpublished)
Survey 2 Forensic Water Point Country Reports
- Kebede, S.; Fallas, H.C.; MacAllister, D.J.; Dessie, N.; Tayitu, Y.; Kefale, Z.; Wolde, G.; Whaley, L.; Banks, E.; Casey, V.; MacDonald, A.M.. 2019 Physical factors contributing to rural water supply functionality performance in Ethiopia. Nottingham, UK, British Geological Survey, 24pp. (OR/19/055) (Unpublished)
- Owor, M.; Fallas, H.C.; MacAllister, D.J.; Okullo, J.; Katusiime, F.; Berochan, G.; Whaley, L.; Banks, E.; Casey, V.; MacDonald, A.M.. 2019 Physical factors contributing to rural water supply functionality performance in Uganda. Nottingham, UK, British Geological Survey, 24pp. (OR/19/056) (Unpublished)
- Mwathunga, E.; Fallas, H.C.; MacAllister, D.J.; Mkandawire, T.; Makuluni, P.; Shaba, C.; Jumbo, S.; Moses, D.; Whaley, L.; Banks, E.; Casey, V.; MacDonald, A.M.. 2019 Physical factors contributing to rural water supply functionality performance in Malawi. Nottingham, UK, British Geological Survey, 24pp. (OR/19/057) (Unpublished)
This is a very interesting project and I am keen to follow the progress of your work. I am working in South Africa and we are faced with similar challenges in rural water supply, which is also heavily dependent on groundwater in some parts. We also have some other issues in addition to the ones indicated on the diagram so I am keen to see what this project comes up with and how it would apply this side
We would be really interested to potentially work with you to share our knowledge from the field in Malawi or potentially look at planning an event together in the future reflecting on these issues. The project is certainly very valuable and we look forward to seeing the results.
I am have to hear that you your project is also working in Malawi. I am a PhD student at Mzuzu University working on similar area on governance and functionality challenges for rural water supply in Nkhata Bay District with Dr. Rochelle Holm and Dr. Mavuto Tembo. I don’t know which districts in Malawi are working? I believe your results will be very important to my study as well. Looking forward to hearing more from you.
The diagram is good but omits important underlying conditions:
1) Corruption. Political donations from large corporations delivers policy that lets gas & coal companies to drain aquifers and pollute surface water.
2) Decision-making power is removed from local socio-ecological system and removed to financial capitals where this money and influence is concentrated
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