We are delighted to report that UN-Water, the coordinating body for water issues across the United Nations, in a meeting this week agreed to make the theme of the 2022 World Water Development Report and World Water Day: “Groundwater: making the invisible visible” http://enb.iisd.org/water/un/30/html/enbplus82num34e.html
Meanwhile three new UPGro papers have recently been published:
“Groundwater hydrodynamics of an Eastern Africa coastal aquifer,
including La Niña 2016–17 drought”
Núria Ferrera; Albert Folch; Mike Lane; Daniel Olago; JuliusOdida;
Emilio Custodio (Gro for GooD)
- An East African costal aquifer was characterized before and during
La Niña 2016/17.
- The recharge was reduced 69% compared to average annual rainfall.
- Lower recharge during first and nil recharge during the second wet
- No important groundwater quality changes observed inland
- Increase of seawater intrusion even during the wet season
This paper is accessible from here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969719302177?dgcid=coauthor
until 13 March
“A case for urban liveability from below: exploring the politics
of water and land access for greater liveability in Kampala, Uganda”
Maryam Nastar, Jennifer Isoke, Robinah Kulabako & Giorgia
Silvestri (T-GroUP) https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13549839.2019.1572728
- Despite efforts of local governments and NGOs to put public
service delivery systems in place, there is a gap between goals and actual
impacts on citizens’ quality of life
- Decentralisation has faced challenges from the emergence of
national partisan political struggles in local areas.
- Pre-paid standpipes were installed with magnetic charge cards
handed out for free. Initially a UGX25 card top-up bought 4 jerry cans (20l),
overtime this reduced to 3 jerry cans. If a card was lost or stolen then a
replacement cost users UGX15,000-25,000, which was unaffordable to many slum
dwellers who then bought water from the standpipe caretakers for UGX
100-250/jerry can. Intermittent water supply from pre-paid meters is another
factor making residents seek alternative water sources – generally unsafe springs,
or from vendors and resellers at UGX 200-1,000 per jerry can.
- Water is just one problem for residents – access roads, waste
disposal, expensive school fees and high youth unemployment also mentioned in
- Local elections have not happened as mandated because the
government fears they will lead to social unrest. This has contribute to
resident distrust of local government.
- Land ownership is a major barrier to water access and
sustainability: there are no clear land records and there are many layers of
complexity involving landlords, tenants, the city and traditional
authorities. Changing the land title from private to communal for WASH
facilities is essential.
- Political parties do sometimes co-opt community leaders and
demobilise communities, but they can also create political spaces for debate on
governance, rules and policies.
- Strong social capital/networks and trust can help mobilise
community power and resources, but can exclude some residents from
- NGOs, universities and social movements can play a crucial role in
magnifying the ability of communities to act together and achieve liveability
Transition Management for Improving the Sustainability of WASH
Services in Informal Settlements in Sub-Saharan Africa—An Exploration.
Silvestri, G.; Wittmayer, J.M.; Schipper, K.; Kulabako, R.;
Oduro-Kwarteng, S.; Nyenje, P.; Komakech, H.; Van Raak, R. (T-GroUP) https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/10/11/4052
- “Transition Management” is a participatory planning technique
developed for addressing sustainability issues in Europe. The UPGro T-GroUP
project is one of the few examples of trying to apply the method in another
context: Kampala (Uganda), Arusha (Tanzania), Dodowa (Ghana).
- The authors identify five contextual factors that account for
unsustainable WASH services:
- Access to water and sanitation in informal settlements comprises a
mosaic of formal and informal practices, water sources, sanitation facilities,
behaviours and actors.
- Fragmented and low governance capacity. Low levels of trust
- Landownership: unequal and skewed. In Kampala, water and
sanitation projects failed due to land conflict; landowners ‘donated’ land for
the facilities but after some years later they would take back possession of
the land and deny access to the facilities without paying.
- Public participation in general and WASH services in
particular: more vulnerable community members are excluded
- Unequal access to WASH services, for example water price varying
on social status, with women being disproportionately disadvantaged. Low access
to education plays a crucial role.
- Transition Management was developed based on liberal
representative democracies, but this experience in Sub-Saharan Africa suggests
that here it needs to be about enlarging and strengthening democratic
space – as a method it is not neutral or universal but shaped by cultural
norms and expectations.
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
Two new social science papers from Hidden Crisis
Key Points from :
Understanding process, power, and meaning in adaptive governance: a critical institutional reading.
- “Adaptive governance” has a number of core principles:
- The need to live with change and uncertainty
- To foster adaptive capacity (i.e. being able to anticipate and respond to change and uncertainty)
- To understand human and natural systems as interconnected
- To consider resilience as the central desirable attribute, e
- One of two case studies focuses on a non-UPGro project, called SWAUM (2011-2016), in the Great Ruaha River catchment in Tanzania (which, by coincidence is one of the GroFutures observatories)
- Concerns about the catchment arose in the 1990s and a number of donor-funded projects tried to improve the natural/water resource management of the catchment.
- An evaluation of the SWAUM project had strengthened coordination both vertically and horizontally through hierarchies at different political levels.
- Limited improvements in land management had taken place but despite the greater awareness, debate and agreement, local people continued to cultivate river banks and river beds to the detriment of the river flows – and despite a deliberate attempt to include marginalised people, they did not get significant representation from pastoralists. This may be in part due to a dominant narrative from other, more powerful, stakeholders that they are to blame for resource depletion.
- Cleaver and Whaley conclude that the following three elements are inextricably bound together:
- Process: institutions that are designed for adaptive governance (such as knowledge sharing platforms, resource management arrangements) may only work and endure where they serve other socially valued processes and are embedded in accepted forms of behaviour and practices.
- Power: allocation or resources or dominance of particular narratives about cause-and-effect is driven by visible, hidden and invisible uses of power by individuals, social groups and organisations. This is often why designed interventions for adaptive governance often deliver less than expected.
- Meaning: There different worldviews on cause and effect in the human and natural worlds and involve multiple processes that will likely affect adaptive governance arrangements.
Interview by Isaiah Esipisu, PAMACC News Agency – www.pamacc.org
Patrick Makuluni is a lecturer in the Mining Department of the University of Malawi, the Polytechnic. Makuluni holds MSc in Mineral Exploration and Mining Geology from Curtin University in Australia and BSc in Civil Engineering from University of Malawi, the Polytechnic.
Recently, the scientist published a paper showing how to recognise where sediments (the exact piece of rock) are coming from by using the geometrical properties of the sediments as opposed to the more expensive methods that have been used previously.
The 30 year old scientist is a family man and his life has always been around his children, work, research and fun. He has developed an interest in Hydrogeology and he would like pursue a PhD in Petroleum Engineering.
[IE] How did you know about the UPGro project, and how did you join the team? Continue reading A Malawian researcher takes UPGro knowledge to up-and-coming scientists in college
Community-management has been the mainstay of rural water supplies in Africa, and in many other parts of the world, but is it the only way? Are there better alternatives? In this lively webinar, researchers from the UPGro Hidden Crisis project discuss their research with RWSN members:
Do you have anything to add? Leave your comments below.
by Dr Luke Whaley, Professor Frances Cleaver and Felece Katusiime (UPGro Hidden Crisis)
In Uganda, waterpoint committees exist more in name than in reality. Many waterpoints have been ‘personalised’. That is to say, they are under the control of one or a small number of individuals. Moreover, where local management arrangements (of any sort) are effective they tend to rely heavily on the authority of the head of the village council, known as the LC1 Chairperson. Indeed, it is often the LC1 Chairperson and not a waterpoint committee who is instrumental in collecting funds, securing maintenance and resolving disputes. Where an apparently functioning committee is in place, this is usually the result of concerted efforts on the part of particular local NGOs, who cannot guarantee this level of commitment in the longer term.
At least, these are the impressions of Felece Katusiime, a social science field researcher working on the UPGro ‘Hidden Crisis’ project, concerned with the sustainability of rural groundwater supply in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Malawi. They are field insights (preceding full data analysis) from someone who has spent many months in the field undertaking research in roughly 200 rural Ugandan villages. The discussion that follows is intended as a provocation and not a promulgation of project findings. We are interested in the extent to which the points made here accord or contrast with the experiences of you, the readers, and we welcome dialogue on these matters.
So, why might it be that in Uganda waterpoint committees,as envisaged on paper, seldom exist as such on the ground?
Continue reading “The borehole is not a madman” Community management of groundwater in rural Uganda
re-posted from: Grofutures.org
The GroFutures team in Ethiopia has recently completed a survey of 400 households from predominantly agricultural communities within the Becho and Koka Plains of the Upper Awash Basin of Ethiopia; there are the same communities where the GroFutures team recently constructed and deployed new groundwater monitoring infrastructure. The team of social scientists, led by Yohannes Aberra of Addis Ababa University with support from Motuma Tolosa and Birhanu Maru, both from the Oromia Irrigation Development Authority, applied a questionnaire to poll respondent views on small-scale, household-level use of groundwater for irrigation, the status of groundwater governance, and their experiences of different irrigation, pump, conveyance and application technologies. The same questionnaire will be applied in other GroFutures basin observatories later this year.
The team began the household-level surveys on May 27th (2017) and completed 400 of these within 15 days. Two weeks prior to the start of the survey, the team reviewed the GroFutures-wide questionnaire to familiarize themselves with the questions and logistics of implementation. During implementation, the team encountered a major challenges in that many household heads were unavailable at their houses and had to be traced with all movements occurring in particularly hot weather.
In Becho, the team conducted questionnaires in the village of Alango Tulu whereas in Koka the team surveyed the village of Dungugi-Bekele. As the total number of households does not exceed 600 in each village, the team’s polling of 200 households in each provided a high representative sample (>30%). The livelihoods of the polled village of Alango Tulu are dominated by local, household-level (small-scale) farming. In the Dungugi-Bekele, the team focused on resident farmers though it was recognised that there are many irrigators who rent and cultivate land but don’t reside in the village.
The results of these questionnaires are eagerly awaited by the whole GroFutures team. A small sample of 30 questionnaires will be reviewed immediately by fellow GroFutures team members, Gebrehaweria Gebregziabher (IWMI) and Imogen Bellwood-Howard (IDS), and the Tanzanian colleagues (Andrew Tarimo and Devotha Mosha-Kilave) as they prepare shortly to trial the same questionnaire in the Great Ruaha Basin Observatory.
Photos: GroFutures social science team of the Upper Awash Basin in Ethiopia conducting household questionnaire survey in rural communities within the Becho and Koka Plains (GroFutures research team)
Thanks to additional support from NERC at the beginning of 2017, some of the world’s leading experts on groundwater and poverty were brought together to test the assumptions that we make about how much we know and understand about the links between groundwater access and poverty. Does improving groundwater access reduce poverty? Or are their cases where it can increase disparities between rich and poor? There is a lack of data and evidence to make firm conclusions and this challenges the research teams in UPGro and beyond to challenge their assumptions.
Part of the rapid study explored the issues around groundwater dependency of urban areas in tropical Africa. What is perhaps shocking, is how little municipal water utilities in these areas monitoring, manage and understand the groundwater resources on which millions of people – their customers – depend. Furthermore, there are indication that private, self-supply, boreholes can make it harder for water utilities to get sufficient income from wealthier users to help cross-subsidise piped connections to the poor.
For more details, on these and many other findings, download the UPGro Working Papers:
We are pleased to share a new UPGro paper from Luke Whaley and Prof. Frances Cleaver (Sheffield University) of the Hidden Crisis study – “Can ‘functionality’ save the community management model of rural water supply?”
It is primarily a literature review paper so many elements will be familiar to rural water practitioners, however, Whaley and Cleaver are coming from a social science perspective so they highlight that previous analysis has focused on community management of water points as a “techno-managerial exercise” that largely ignores from broader social, political and cultural rules and relations around power – which groups and individuals have power over others and how is that used (or not used).
So what? The author’s suggest that current dialogue on water point functionality is not enough to save Community Based Management, because there is often a wider problem in with the under-resourcing of local government (and governance) and that more work is needed to help develop context-specific management, “rather than attempting to tweak the current blueprint of development the next ‘big thing’”
The full open access paper can be read and downloaded from Science Direct
Please take some time to read this and feel free to discuss – and argue! – about it in the RWSN Sustainable Services community