At the end of October 2018 the local transition team in Kampala has been very active organizing three ‘agenda setting’ transition arena meetings with participants from multiple communities (such as Makerere, Mukubira, Bwaise and Kawaala) in informal settlements in Kampala. The meetings aimed at supporting participants to develop short, medium and long term actions that would address the already identified local problems.
The local transition teams started the arena meetings by sharing some of the most important insights from previous meetings such as the vision narratives previously developed by the participants. The back-casting methodology was then used to support the participants to identify short, medium and long term actions.
The majority of the short-term actions developed by the participants were associated to educational and awareness raising activities related to water, sanitation and waste management. Some groups of participants discussed how to teach community members correct hygiene practices, proper construction of toilet facilities and practices of maintenance and protection of water sources. In one of the groups in Makerere and Mukubira zones, participants discussed to run a water harvesting plan at household level and to start lobbying with institutions like KCCA and NWSC to increase sensitization activities at community level related to water and sanitation best practices.
During the meeting with participants from Makerere and Mukubira zones, one of the developed long term actions consisted of creating a rewarding system for individuals who would carry on good practices in protecting and preserving water sources.
Other major actions developed in all organized meetings were related to ensure the enforcement of laws related to water, waste and sanitation management. In Bwaise, for example, the implementation of fines related to poor toilet usage and construction were discussed.
Additionally, participants in all areas spoke about the importance of mobilizing community members and setting up active groups aiming to carry on sensitization activities and to ensure the maintenance of services over time. For example, in Makerere and Mukubira zones, one group of participants would like to form a water committee, while in Bwaise zone the group of participants focusing on the problem of sanitation had the idea to form community led groups to prevent unplanned toilet construction.
Other important actions included the creation of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) for supporting the local circular economy by producing products from waste materials.
The results of the ‘agenda setting’ arena meetings show that the implementation of facilities and services alone do not contribute to solve local water, sanitation and waste management problems. Rather, a combination of actions is needed for addressing the rooted and interlinked problems. New organizational and governance capacities at both community and institutional level need to be developed in order to ensure the maintenance of facilities over time. The change of practices and behaviors related to water, sanitation and waste management need to be constantly supported by organizing awareness raising and education activities, by mobilizing and empowering community members, such as through active groups as well as by ensuring the reinforcement of laws. The collaboration and dialogue between local community members, institutional organisations, NGOs and private companies play a key role in the implementation of these actions and will be further explored in the next meetings taking place in January.
re-posted from GRIPP
This book is especially unique in that it not only explains a wide range of issues associated with groundwater governance, but it also provides water industry professionals, decision-makers and local stakeholders with a suite of solutions for a heuristic approach to managing this extremely important resource.
Advances in Groundwater Governance was edited by Karen G. Villholth (IWMI), Elena López-Gunn (ICATALIST, Spain, and University of Leeds, UK), Kirstin Conti (International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC) and University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands), Alberto Garrido (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, and Water Observatory of the Botín Foundation, Spain), and Jac van der Gun (Van der Gun Hydro-Consulting, The Netherlands). The publication was sponsored by CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems, Botín Foundation and IGRAC.
The publisher CRC Press – Taylor & Francis Group is acknowledged for providing free access of the book after one year of its first release.
For more information on the book, please, proceed to this page.
Competing narratives surround the role of ‘area mechanics’ in Malawi
In November 2017 I started my ‘politics of water’ blog as an outlet to share experiences and findings from my research in rural Malawi on water governance and service sustainability.
This might have left you wondering – what about everyone else?
Water services in Malawi are decentralised, at least in theory. This means two things. Firstly, district councils, together with district water offices, are mandated to develop and monitor water infrastructure in rural areas.
Secondly, communities are expected to maintain and repair their water points with minimal external assistance. For more serious problems, local ‘area mechanics’ are their first port of call, followed by the district water office.
In reality, district water offices are severely under resourced, there are currently few area mechanics, and the effectiveness of community-based management varies considerably. However, where they are present, area mechanics are thought to play an important role in keeping water points functioning.
Area Mechanics: volunteers or entrepreneurs?
So what is an area mechanic? This sounds like a simple question, but the answers are complex and contradictory.
The area mechanics Thoko interviewed in Balaka for her MSc research tended to consider themselves, foremost, as volunteers working for the greater good of the community. After all, they were selected from the local community and have strong social ties with the people they serve. An area mechanic may be a relative, a neighbour or a fellow churchgoer, even the village headman himself. Trustworthiness was emphasised by communities as an important criteria.
The depiction of area mechanics as volunteers has been echoed in my own conversations with extension staff and NGO workers, but in combination with another term – entrepreneur. According to national policy, area mechanics are meant to operate as independent businesspersons. They are given training and a few basic tools, after which they are expected to make a small profit to sustain their operations. They are also encouraged to sign written contracts with communities to clarify payment for services.
This model is clearly aimed at economic viability and is meant to incentivise area mechanics by providing them with an income. Arguably, the model has failed to gain traction locally because it ignores the social context in which area mechanics operate.
A third view is that area mechanics are integral to formal water governance arrangements – in other words part of, or plugging a gap in, the government’s extension system. This may not be stated explicitly, but is implicit in the use of government issued ID cards.
To give another example, area mechanics are sometimes (but not always) introduced to communities by a government representative in order to establish their legitimacy. Several of the area mechanics Thoko spoke to wanted their role to be formalised to enable them to negotiate fees with communities, or conversely in the hope of receiving material and financial support from government.
The ambiguity of water mechanics
Despite appearances, none of these narratives is mutually exclusive, and they may be employed at different times depending on the context. As one extension worker explained to me:
“Area mechanics are entrepreneurs by design and should make communities aware of that. They are supposed to have a signed agreement. The area mechanic needs to be paid, a little.”
He then went on to clarify:
“It is not payment as such but a token of appreciation. It is up to them if they want to work for free. However they shouldn’t deny assistance to a Water Point Committee just because they don’t have money.”
The ambiguity surrounding area mechanics can be confusing and could be viewed as a failure of policy (or its implementation). But, in my view, that conclusion would be overly simplistic and misses the point.
The co-existence of these different narratives, or interpretations of policy, leaves room for negotiation and pragmatism. These are arguably important ingredients for success, especially when adapting policies to local realities. In short, the role of area mechanics in Malawi’s water governance system is not yet set in stone.
Groundwater and the poor are easily ignored. Hidden underground or of low political priority, the motivation and ability to improve groundwater management and welfare are often constrained by capacity, resources and governance structures. In much of Africa, the political calculus is changing as severe but unpredictable droughts, increasingly decentralised decision-making, and growing water competition are emphasizing the critical nature of groundwater as a buffer to drought, driver of economic growth, and vital resource for the poor and marginalised.
On the south coast of Kenya, today’s situation reflects regional trends with over half a billion dollars of new investments by mining, agriculture and urban development raising concerns about managing and allocating groundwater to protect the resource base and ensure the poor are not marginalised by more powerful interests. As part of the Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor,the Groundwater Risk Management for Growth and Development project has convened researchers from the UK, Kenya and Spain with national and county Government of Kenyan partners and water-related industry.
Yesterday, the Kwale County Government Water Minister, Hon. Hemed Mwabudzo, convened the final project workshop in Diani with over 30 stakeholder partners to discuss 15 recommendations for policy action across four thematic areas (View full Policy Briefing).
First, geological and geophysical analysis has identified two palaeo-channels (ancient, buried rivers) with significant groundwater resources to contribute to water-related growth and provision of water services to people. Results highlight wider UPGro findings of the critical nature of extreme rainfall disproportionately contributing to recharge replenishing aquifers after droughts. Protecting recharge zones is essential for sustainable management of this ‘new’ resource, and coupled with monitoring and enforcement, can avoid land use planning mistakes. Due to the proximity to the coast, unregulated groundwater abstraction may lead to saline intrusion which underlines the potential importance of the opportunity that Kenyan partners now have to continue the Environmental Monitoring Strategy developed and tested by the project.
Second, the 2016-17 drought showed the exceptional and unpredictable stress that can suddenly be placed on groundwater resources. The hydrogeological model developed by the project provides the first system-level tool which can be used to support improved management and allocation of resources across multiple and competing groundwater users. This requires improved inter-agency cooperation between the Kwale County Government, Water Resources Authority, National Drought Management Authority, Kenya Meteorological Department and other stakeholders. Immediate steps to deepen priority, shallow dug-wells used by communities would reduce the risk of them drying up and avoid significant social costs, largely borne by poor people. Emergency supplies need to be planned and budgeted for, in the absence of adequate planning, which is a costly response but necessary as expensive vended water costs are absorbed by those least able to pay or least responsible for governance failures.
Third, three rounds of socio-economic surveys were administered in 2014, 2015 and 2016 across 3,500 households across Lunga Lunga, Msambweni and Matuga sub-Counties. Analysis which models the most significant factors to improve household welfare identified four key areas for interventions: a) end open defecation, which occurs in around one third of households, b) increase education attainment from primary to at least secondary level, c) accelerate access to energy services, and d) improve rural water services.
Fourth, linked to improving rural water services and drought resilience, the project has been part of a wider initiative to design and test a performance-based maintenance service for rural water supply infrastructure since 2014. The FundiFix model guarantees repairs to broken infrastructure in three days based on community, school or clinic payment contracts. Currently, 85 handpumps are registered serving 13,000 people, including 4,000 school children, with 99% of repairs completed in less than a day. A Water Services Maintenance Trust Fund was established in 2014 to address the funding gap and test a hybrid financial model blending user, investor and government support. To date, users are paying with private sector support from Base Titanium Limited and doTERRA. These two companies have long-term investments in the county in mining and agriculture and have been founding investors to incubate the model to avoid the traditional approach of building infrastructure with no maintenance provision wasting resources and leaving the poor no better off.
Stakeholders from government, academia, communities, private sector and NGOs discussed these recommendations to identify priority actions against the feasibility of delivery in the next three years. The findings (see bubble figure below) identify the preferences from those stakeholders present. Action is already being taken by county government which has reviewed the project findings and is developing a plan to test the northern palaeo-channel resources in four locations. With a strong evidence base and clear policy messages, wider action is being planned to improve groundwater and welfare outcomes in Kwale County with lessons and methods under consideration nationally.
Download full presentation from Gro for GooD project Final Stakeholder Workshop – 22nd November 2018
Prepared by the Gro for GooD team
Prof. Rob Hope, University of Oxford, UK – firstname.lastname@example.org
Eng. Mike Thomas, Rural Focus Limited, Kenya – email@example.com
by Isaiah Esipisu at the 7th Africa Water Week, Gabon
More than 10 organisations and groundwater networks from across Africa have resolved to work closely with the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) to invigorate a pan-African groundwater programme over the medium-term to demonstrate the benefits of a politically-connected pan-African approach.
This follows the establishment of the Africa Groundwater Commission (AGWC) under the auspices of AMCOW in 2008 as a political instrument to drive the groundwater agenda on the continent, but it failed to deliver its mandate due to political instabilities in some member countries.
However, given the importance of groundwater on the continent, UPGro in collaboration with AMCOW convened a daylong workshop alongside the 2018 Africa Water Week (AWW) in Libreville, Gabon for representatives from different networks, organisations, governments, UN, and the donor community to deliberate on invigoration of a strategic pan-African groundwater initiative.
“The idea of forming a Groundwater Commission was a good one, and the people who did it did a good job,” said Dr Callist Tindimugaya, the Commissioner for Water Resources Planning and Regulation at the Ministry of Water and Environment of Uganda and the UPGro Ambassador in East Africa. However, said Tindimugaya, “people (who formed it) were very ambitious, and they wanted to achieve a lot in a very short time,” he said.
Dr Tindimugaya, from the Ministry of Water & Environment in Uganda, and other delegates, keenly following the Groundwater Thursday event at the AWW
He notes that there are several lessons that can be picked from what has happened in the past 10 years since the formation of the commission. “I think forming a commission without basics in place is synonymous to a baby beginning to run before it learns how to walk, and that is a lesson we must take home,” he said.
The team of experts, policy makers, financiers and the civil society in Libreville recognised that African population largely depend on groundwater, which makes a significant contribution to the security of water supplies for domestic and productive uses across the continent, providing a drinking water source for over 50% of the population and a buffer against climate change.
Dr Kirsty Upton, one of the developers of the Africa Groundwater Atlas
“In the West Africa region, most countries (70 to 80%) largely rely on groundwater because they are within the Sahel, and therefore surface water is very scarce,” said Prof Moustapha Diene, a hydrologist at the University of Dakar, and the Manager – Africa Groundwater Network.
However, he said, “There is a huge gap in the management of groundwater resource in the entire region. Some gains have already been made, but there exists gaps especially in terms of saline water intrusion into groundwater aquifers and over-exploitation of the resource in some areas,” said Diene.
If well managed, the team in Libreville observed that groundwater can play a pivotal role in climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, through use in the agricultural and industrial sectors and as part of improved, resilient and equitable WASH services, to make further and significant contributions to economic growth and poverty reduction.
As a result, the experts felt that the future development of groundwater resources in Africa will depend upon implementation of aquifer characterisation and understanding through research, conjunctive use of water resources and Managed Aquifer Recharge, and most importantly, management of trans-boundary aquifers and trans-boundary cooperation.
They further called for capacity strengthening within the water sector for sustainable groundwater management, groundwater and land-use planning, coastal aquifers management to avoid seawater intrusion and lastly, sharing of the groundwater knowledge.
So far, the British Geological Society in collaboration with UPGro has developed the first ever online based Africa Groundwater Atlas for knowledge sharing and it is a gateway to further information related to groundwater and hydrological understanding for 51 African countries.
The Atlas also consists of a searchable online database that so far catalogues nearly 7000 references for literature about groundwater in Africa. The Archive can be searched by themed keyword; by title and author; or geographically: either by country; or for more than 1500 georeferenced documents, by searching for their specific location on an interactive map. There are thousands of links to free-to-download full text documents and abstracts.
by Isaiah Esipisu at the 7th Africa Water Week, Gabon
Groundwater is one of the most important sources for drinking water, livestock water and irrigation in Africa, representing 15% of the continent’s renewable water resources, according to the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
However, its hidden presence under the ground has left it largely under-valued and under-utilised both for social and economic gain. But even worse, scientists have confessed that very little studies have so far been done to unlock the potential of this scarce resource.
“We do not know what we have because we have not done adequate studies yet. Some studies have been constrained by lack of adequate monitoring data, for example data for rainfall,” said Prof Daniel Olago, a Senior Geologists at the University of Nairobi in Kenya.
“We also do not have very good data on river-flows, and how much they contribute to groundwater systems,” he said.
It is based on such understanding that UpGro, in collaboration with the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) have decided to convene a daylong session at the 2018 Africa Water Week in Libreville, Gabon, to discuss issues related to groundwater in Africa.
According to UNECA, groundwater constitute the most important buffer and reserve during surplus periods as well as a source of water for streams and/or direct withdrawals in times of shortage, given the changing climatic conditions.
The UN therefore reckons that groundwater management in Africa can be an essential component of climate change adaptation strategies.
“Renewable groundwater resources in Africa are underutilised, yet groundwater can play a major role in assisting farmers to increase food production and to overcome threats to food security if climate change leads to greater rainfall variability,” reports UNECA in a policy brief.
During the groundwater session at the 7th Africa Water Week, the conveners will take a deeper look at its contribution to Africa’s water security and exploration of aquifers as a key for water security on the continent.
There will also be some focus on operation of the Africa Groundwater Commission (AGWC), which was established in 2008, but 10 years down the line, it has not been as proactive as expected.
To find out more:
- Don’t miss Groundwater Thursday at AWW-7!
- General introduction to UPGro
- Background Paper: Groundwater’s Contribution to Water Security in Africa
- Background Paper: Experiences of Research into Use within UPGro
- Africa Groundwater Atlas
by Isaiah Esipisu at the 7th Africa Water Week, Gabon
Water experts, policy makers, government representatives, UN agencies, donors and nongovernmental organisations kicked off the celebration of the seventh edition of the Africa Water Week in Libreville city of Gabon on 29th October 2018, calling on African governments to reflect on achievements made so far towards availing clean water and sanitation services to all.
On 28th and 29th of March and on 23rd and 24th of May 2018, the Dodowa Transition team supported the inhabitants of a number of Dodowa communities taking part in the Transition Management process to develop short, medium and long term actions supporting the improvement of water and sanitation services in their communities. In order to do so, the transition team organized eight different arena meetings with participants of the Apperkon, Wedokum, Zongo and Obom communities. In addition, representatives of local institutions, NGOs (e.g. People’s Dialogue) and grassroots initiatives such as the Ghana Federation of the Urban Poor and People’s Dialogue were invited to join the meetings.
During the March meetings the participants worked in different groups and defined and described the actions for getting closer to their visions of cleaner, healthier and safer communities. In addition, discussions were held on which practices and behaviors need to change in order to achieve their visions.
During the meetings in May, the participants were asked to give priority to some of the actions already developed in the previous meetings, to discuss them in more detail in different groups and to develop a plan for each priority action. The presence of community mobilisers and representatives of NGOs and local institutions was key in this phase of the process. They shared lessons learnt in their work, gave examples of activities and projects developed by active groups of inhabitants in other communities, and collaborations existing between community members and local institutions.
They also shared methods that effectively resulted in engaging and raising awareness related to multiple issues including water and sanitation practices and behaviors. It was important for the participants to hear how community members started to collaborate with local authorities and other institutions and managed to get support for implementing water and sanitation services.
These insights were particularly important for inspiring the participants and for motivating them to act in their communities. The developed action plans for the priority actions included multiple issues such as the resources needed, the list of institutions and stakeholders to collaborate with, and the skills and knowledge needed to implement them.
At the end of the meetings the participants developed multiple action plans, related for example to the organization of community festivals for raising awareness on water and sanitation practices, the participatory mapping of existing water and sanitation services in the communities, and to start a dialogue with the local authority (i.e. district assembly).
Photo: Participants from Wedokum community listening to a representative of a local grassroots movement (credit: T-GroUP)
by Thokozani Mtewa, Evans Mwathunga, Wapumuluka, Mulwafu
“In the rural areas of Malawi, water is accessed mostly through boreholes. The borehole and hand pump functionality concept is currently getting a central place in development agenda for the provision of affordable and safe water supply under the Sustainable Development Goals.
A study on area mechanics and borehole functionality was conducted in Balaka district in Malawi in 2017. The study used qualitative research methods of data collection using
political economy analysis to understand the role of Area Mechanics (AMs), their relationships with water point committees and other stakeholders, their perceptions,
motivations and challenges. Questionnaires and an audio recorder were employed to
collect data from individual interviews and focus groups.
The study findings revealed that even though the system of AMs is well defined in
policy, in practice things are done differently. The AMs defined their jobs differently; from entrepreneurs (10%) to community volunteers (90%) and the sizes of catchment areas of AMs are mostly divided informally and unequally which affects service delivery.
The study also found AMs are motivated by both monetary and non-monetary benefits
from the communities under their jurisdictions.
Consequently, overall the level of incentives and disincentives seem to have affected
their maintenance service provision as well as their relationships with other water point
stakeholders. For proper functioning of an AM system as part of groundwater infrastructure, this paper therefore proposes the need to revise the policy and procedures in training, selection and allocation of AMs as well regular short term trainings to area mechanics at district level.”
Source: Conference Abstract