My name is Jacob Katuva and I’m a researcher with Oxford University. I largely work in the water and poverty area. My research has been in Kenya – Kwale County specifically – where I’ve been looking at the links between water and welfare. Kwale County has a population of close to 900,000 people. The majority of the people there – over 70% – live below the poverty line and the main source of water for the community drinking water supplies is groundwater through handpumps.
We did a socioeconomic survey in Kwale County where we interviewed 3500 households or thereabouts in the year 2014. We repeated the same survey on the same households again in the year 2015 and the year 2016. In terms of analysis, we developed a welfare index from about 29 indicators from the socioeconomic survey and we had weights which were informed by Principle Component Analysis and this welfare index was computed for all the three years and we were able to actually see the changes in welfare and we were also able to map all the households and understand where the poor are and what their needs are.
Moving on, we investigated the links between water and welfare and what we found was that water services and here I’m talking about reliability, affordability, safety of water, and proximity to water infrastructure – all this actually accounts for at least 20% of the variation in household welfare which was quite substantial.
Findings from this work have been developed into policy briefs. Different policy briefs have been shared with different departments within the County Government, and also the Governor.
In terms of modelling welfare, we found that there are four priority goals that the County needs to focus on for sustainable development in the county. So if they want to improve people’s welfare they need to focus on four priority goals. Number one: The first goal is to maintain primary education while maintaining access to primary education; Number two is to improve access to reliable, affordable and safe drinking water sources within the county; Number three is to improve access to household energy sources by expanding the national grid or also investing in small scale solar systems; and the final priority goal was to end open defecation as this was the largest cause of reduced welfare in Kwale County.
Suleiman Mwakurya worked as a research assistant on the Gro for GooD project in Kenya, based out of the Rural Focus field office in Kwale. He recently took on a new role working for the Kwale County Government. Gro for GooD Co-I Patrick Thomson caught up with him to find out about his new job.
PT: What is your current job now and how does it links back to your work with Gro for GooD?
SM: I started work as Superintendent Geologist for Kwale County Government at the end of 2018. My main role is carrying out hydrogeological surveys for the county government, and I’m also involved in supervision of the drilling machinery owned by the County, supervising the drilling crew and managing the rig. When I’m not in the field, I’m in the office working on project management and evaluating tenders for drilling of new boreholes. We are overwhelmed with boreholes! Everyone is coming to the county government asking for help with the drilling machine – more people want boreholes – we have a backlog of over 100 boreholes so we have been tendering some of this work to private contractors. I’m involved in designing of programmes of works for these contractors – how and where they are going to drill, installation and how management will be handed over to the county government. I also do some installation of solar pumps, electric pumps and handpumps. I really thank UPGro in general, and the whole Gro for GooD fraternity… as the project certainly equipped me with some of the skills which I’m currently using, including handpump repair and installation.
PT: How has Gro for GooD research influenced the development and management of groundwater resources in Kwale County?
SM: The County doesn’t have a lot of resources for groundwater development and groundwater monitoring. We have been drilling boreholes but we don’t have data. Hydrogeologists like Mike Lane and Professor Dan Olago can help the County with the kind of information, data and expertise that they have in terms of groundwater management. Capacity building and training for county staff is also useful. The County is working on the World Bank funded Kwale County Water Supply Master Plan and we are in the initial stages of this for the three major towns – Ukunda, Msambweni and Kwale—targeting the palaeochannels [water-bearing geological features located by the Gro for GooD project]. We are through with 28 exploratory boreholes and have the results, so are now preparing to drill a number of production boreholes. The timing will depend on the procurement process but hopefully drilling will commence in 2020. The first step will be to drill three boreholes in Kinondo, which are the ones that are going to be used to supply Ukunda town. After that we hope to drill another three boreholes in Msambweni and Milalani to supply Msambweni.
PT: Tell us about your time with UPGro.
SM: I worked on the Gro for GooD project for about two and a half years. I was based in the field office in Bomani, Kwale County and was closely involved with the water quality research – sampling and recording data at 49 sampling sites every fortnight. I also assisted on the geophysical surveys, household surveys and surface water monitoring. Actually the skills I acquired at UPGro have made a big improvement in my career, particularly the experience of working on geophysical surveys and groundwater monitoring. I also had training and experience with organisation and interpretation of data as the project collected a large volume of data on groundwater, rainfall, surface water and water quality. Calvince [Wara – Research Manager at the Bomani field office] was a very good mentor for me and helped me develop skills in data management and analysis. Working with the Gro for GooD project has also inspired me on the welfare side – the household surveys made me aware of issues for people around here who face difficulty with water supplies. In densely populated areas, we see many people queueing up to use the same handpump. I have been developing proposals to upgrade some handpumps to solar pumps.
PT: What are your plans for the future?
SM: I have a passion for hydrogeology and I’m happy that the Gro for GooD project helped me develop this passion. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Geology from the University of Nairobi in 2013. I started working as a drilling supervisor and then I joined the UPGro project and it has really opened up how I look at hydrogeology and groundwater. I learnt a lot of things from it. I’ve been looking into applying for an MSc programme maybe in Hydrogeology, or perhaps Geophysics or Hydrogeochemistry.
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”
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.
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.”
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.
More information about Gro for GooD, which is funded by UK research councils and the Department for International Development, can be found here.
Gro for GooD collected data from over 3,000 households each year in 2014, 2015 and 2016 with the support of over 20 local staff trained by Oxford University. These data provide insights into who is poor, where people suffering poverty live and what is changing people’s welfare over time. The sampling strategy spans across Matuga, Msambweni and Lunga Lunga constituencies.
The latest round of the household survey took place in September to November 2016. The survey captures information on demographic and socio-economic, health, water sources, waterpoint management, water payments, water resources management as well as governance issues. In addition to the face-to-face interviews Gro-for-GooD has successfully piloted a mobile-based socio-economic survey instrument that can be used for rapid updating of the social component of the Groundwater Risk Management Tool.
Where are the poor? Welfare change 2014-2015
Kwale County Government is responding to the need to improve the lives of 7 out of 10 Kwale County residents who live below the poverty line of USD1.25 a day. To achieve this, the County needs to know who the poor are, where they are and the likely impacts of different poverty interventions. In an effort to answer some of these questions, data from the three household surveys were used to evaluate and map welfare between 2014 and 2015.
Households experiencing declining welfare in this period were observed to be in regions largely influenced by the tourism (Ukunda/Diani) and fishing (coastal strip) industries. However, some pockets within the coastal strip (Kinondo and Vingujini) were observed to have a positive change in welfare. Households that experienced a large positive change in welfare were observed to be around Lukore, Shimba hills, Mivumoni, Mbegani, Majimboni, Mangawani, Mzizima, Kinondo and Mwaluvanga, among others. The majority of households in Lunga Lunga experienced a decline in welfare.
The Water Resource Management Authority (WRMA) is a State Corporation under the Ministry of Water and Irrigation. WRMA was established in the year 2003 pursuant to the enactment of Water Act number eight of 2002. WRMA is the lead agency in the regulation and management of water resources nationally.
One of WRMA’s core functions is to ensure that there is fair, transparent and participatory allocation and apportionment of water resources to all users, so that everyone who needs water can access it now and for generations to come. Communities are directly affected by the state of water resources. Livelihoods depend not only on water availability but also on the quality of available water, which may be affected by organic pollution from sewage, animal and human waste as well as inorganic pollution from transport, agriculture or industry. The quality of groundwater resources may also be affected by seawater intrusion.
Kwale’s groundwater resources have attracted several major abstractors in recent years. Recognising the importance of balancing competing demands for domestic, agricultural and industrial uses of groundwater, the Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) has been collaborating closely with the Gro for GooD project since its inception. We have been involved directly in a number of activities, including provision of the ABEM SAS1000 Terrameter and participation in the geophysical survey and installation of water level recorders and other monitoring equipment. Data generated from these activities will provide critical inputs to the hydrogeological flow model for Kwale County that is under development by the project and will form the basis of the Groundwater Risk Management Tool. The tool, once developed, will prove most useful in decision-making by WRMA as we allocate the groundwater resources in Kwale County. WRMA is ISO 9001: 2008 Certified.
WRMA staff Susan Mwangi and David Shokut undertake borehole monitoring at Tiwi BH 6
“Groundwater is increasingly important for Kwale’s growth and development. It is a widely available water resource of high quality and low cost. Rural communities know this well and have relied on groundwater for generations managing the resource sustainably. With increasing variability in rainfall which supplies small and large dams, groundwater provides an important alternative for new water demands from irrigated agriculture, mining or tourism.
“The Gro for GooD project – Groundwater Risk Management for Growth and Development – competed in an international research competition and was ranked in first place for the innovative and inclusive nature of the project. Working with the University of Nairobi, JKUAT and Rural Focus Ltd. in Kenya and the Polytechnic University of Barcelona in Spain (UPC), the team boasts some of Kenya’s and the world’s best scientists working on groundwater systems from hydrological, geophysical, geochemical, social and economic disciplines.
“After the Governor of Kwale County graciously opened the project in 2015 we are now delighted to share the first of regular quarterly newsletters providing updates to the people of Kwale on the progress of the project. This includes a new project office in Bomani with local staff working with all our partners. We hope you find this newsletter relevant and interesting and look forward to your feedback.”
– Dr Rob Hope
Photo: Research Team collects samples from a borehole during the first groundwater sampling campaign in Sep – Oct 2015
The Groundwater Risk Management for Growth and Development (GRo for Good) project is holding a workshop on 23rd March 2015 in Kwale County, Kenya as part of the Africa-wide UPGRo programme funded by NERC, ESRC and UK DFID.
Improved understanding of groundwater risks and institutional responses against competing growth and development goals is central to accelerating and sustaining Africa’s development. The coastal aquifer system in southern Kwale faces a unique set of challenges to balance the water use demands of irrigated agriculture and mining with existing demands from tourism and community water supplies. An international research team led by the University of Oxford has been conducting research in Kwale since 2013, with the aim of providing evidence to support the Kwale County Government as it responds to the challenges of improving water security under rapid climate, economic, environmental and political change.
The workshop will present groundwater and poverty research conducted to date by the Oxford-led team. The aims of the new GRo for GooD project will be outlined and discussed with the County Government and other stakeholders with a view to addressing the shared goals and interests and developing long term collaboration to improve groundwater security and reduce poverty.