The Sustainable Development Goals have set an agenda for transformational change in water access, aiming for secure household connections globally. Despite this goal, communal groundwater supplies are likely to remain the main source of improved water supplies for many rural areas in Africa and South Asia for decades to come.
Understanding the poor functionality of existing communal supplies remains, therefore, a priority. A critical first step is to establish a sector-wide definition of borehole supply functionality and a standard method of its assessment.
Groundwater plays a central role in Increasing safe water access – particularly in Africa and Asia, but has there are long-running challenges in keeping such supplies working.
“Functionality” is term often used as a measurable indicator of whether a water point is working or not.
The most common definition of “functionality” is a binary “is it working at time of inspection? Yes/No” However, this is just one of six approaches to defining water point functionality.
A tiered assessment is recommended based on flow quantity, quality and downtime period(s) over the previous year
Having a standardised approach to assessing functionality is important to allow data from different locations and different times to be compared so that the deeper, systematic complexities and failures can be better understood and addressed.
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
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
by Naomi Oates, Grantham institute, UPGro Hidden Crisis
My first impressions of Malawi? It is hot! Temperatures are reaching 37°C in Balaka district at the moment. Around midday it is particularly difficult to move around in the scorching sun – much preferable to sit under a shady tree until the heat dissipates a little (usually it becomes bearable by 3pm).
The landscape is very dry. Sometimes there is a gentle cooling breeze, but that can also kick up a lot of dust. Fortunately, the rains will be starting in November, which will cool things down and allow the crops to grow.
Power cuts are a frequent occurrence at that moment, as the country cannot generate enough to meet demand and electricity has to be rationed. The main energy source is hydropower – reservoirs are at their lowest at this time of year.
My first week in the field was spent settling in to the District Water Office in Balaka, getting to know the staff members. This will be my home for the next 4-5 months (with a break to return to the UK for Christmas).
The office is located just behind the market in Balaka town. It has four rooms and lots of storage containers for equipment and spare parts. I sit in the same room as the District Water Development Office – the boss – but he is often away for meetings.
There are around 49 staff employed by the office in total. Many are based at the treatment works and dam in Ntcheu (the neighbouring district) which supplies Balaka with piped water. There are far fewer staff working on groundwater supplies – namely, the boreholes with handpumps provided to rural communities. It is the latter that my research is focussing on.
In my second week the UpGro Hidden Crisis survey team arrived – the project my PhD is linked to. The team are investigating the multiple causes of waterpoint failure. This includes the functioning of mechanical components in the hand pump, borehole characteristics (e.g. siting and yield) and various aspects of water quality. Discussions are also held with communities to discuss the history of the waterpoint – its construction, breakdowns and repairs, and local arrangements to collect fees and maintain the handpump.
Every waterpoint has a different set of problems – in the case of Alufeyo the community were contributing money for repairs, and showed willingness to pay, but the borehole has been badly sited and produces a low yield.
Next week I hope to accompany the Water Monitoring Assistant (Mr Nkwate) on a Red Cross project that will be drilling and rehabilitating boreholes, and training Water Point Committees (community volunteers).
The objective of my research is to understand the role of different actors at the district-level in developing and sustaining rural water services – how they get their jobs done and the networks of relationships on which they draw. One aspect of this is to explore the interface between the district government offices and the communities they support.
Jake Carpenter, a consultant and former Peace Corps volunteer in Uganda describes the history, theory and practice of corrosion issues and provides practical solutions for resolving the issue.
Our discussants, Dr Peter Harvey (UNICEF) and Jess MacArthur (iDE) add their comments on why this avoidable problem is still around and in a lively Q&A session, some positive ways forward are discussed.
Although the examples in the presentation are from Uganda, we know that this problem is happening in at least 25 countries in Africa and Asia and many more.
If you would like more information to help inform and influence either your own organisation or those that you know of that are still installing inappropriate materials, then please let us know.
Handpump corrosion has been known about for over 30 years, the fact that it is a common problem in over 25 countries is a scandal and reflects badly on donors, implementers and governments.
In this webinar, Bony Etti and Jacinta Nekesa from WaterAid Uganda describe their shocking findings from investigating boreholes and pumps (as part of the UPGro Hidden Crisis study) some of which have failed or become unusable within 6 months of being installed. Jake Carpenter, a consultant and former Peace Corps volunteer in Uganda describes the history, theory and practice of corrosion issues and provides practical solutions for resolving the issue. Our discussants, Dr Peter Harvey (UNICEF) and Jess MacArthur (iDE) add their comments on why this avoidable problem is still around and in a lively Q&A session, some positive ways forward are discussed.
Le secteur est au courant depuis plus de trente ans des problèmes de corrosion des pompes manuelles. Il est scandaleux que ce problème soit encore récurrent dans plus de 25 pays, et cela nuit à la réputation des financeurs, des chefs de projets et des gouvernements.
Dans ce wébinaire, Bony Etti et Jacinta Nekesa de WaterAid Ouganda présentent les résultats choquants de leur évaluation de forages et de pompes (dans le cadre de l’étude UPGro Hidden Crisis) dont certains sont tombées en panne ou ne sont plus utilisables 6 mois seulement après leur installation. Jake Carpenter, consultant et ancien bénévole des Peace Corps en Ouganda, reprend lui l’histoire, la théorie et les aspects techniques des problèmes de corrosion en général, et propose des solutions simples et pratiques pour les résoudre. Dans la session Questions/Réponses les participants discutent de ces alternatives à mettre en place pour améliorer la situation.
Dans la version anglaise du wébinaire deux intervenants, Dr Peter Harvey (UNICEF) et Jess MacArthur (iDE), apportent aussi des précisions sur les raisons pour lesquelles ce problème pourtant évitable continue d’exister.
“Every year, over 30,000 boreholes fitted with handpumps are installed in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. All will break down at some point. Some will be repaired and return to service. Others will not be fixed and will fall out of use. All will eventually need to be replaced.
Up to a third of the waterpoints in Sub-Saharan Africa are out of service at any given time, according to estimates by the Rural Water Supply Network. This doesn’t mean that they can’t repaired, just that they were out of use when surveyed. Breakdown and repair are normal for any facilities, but if they are not repaired, this has a big impact on users and becomes problematic.
Boreholes and handpumps stop working for a variety of different reasons. Some issues can be resolved quickly and easily but others will condemn a water point to a possible untimely demise. Causes of failure can be grouped into three overall categories.