Groundwater could be the solution to contaminated Kampala slum water crisis

by Isaiah Esipisu

After a recent study discovered traces of dangerous viruses including cancer causing pathogens in shallow groundwater in Kampala slums, residents of Makerere 2 Zone C can finally breathe a sigh of relief as further studies indicate that deeper groundwater in their area could be safe for drinking.

In collaboration with a community based organisation known as MAK H2O Project, scientists from IHE Delft Institute for Water Education together with their counterparts from Makerere University have been working with communities to find out the best way of managing their groundwater in a sustainable manner.

“As a short term measure, we have been encouraging community members to boil the water from slum springs before drinking,” said Brian Lutaaya, the Chair – MAK H2O Project.

Most of the water springs in Makerere 2 Zone C are just a few meters from pit latrines, a clear indication that the water, which appears to be sparkling clear, is likely contaminated with fecal matter. The water is fetched from an open earth surface. This makes it susceptible to all manners of waste contamination brought around by wind, rainfall runoff water and even malicious individuals.

“We are fully aware of the dangers involved, but we have no alternative source of water for drinking and for domestic use,” Edith Kansiime, one of the area residents said during a field visit by UPGro delegation to the 2020 Africa Water Association (AfWA) International Congress.

Taps in most parts of the slum went dry some years ago. The only available alternative is to buy mineral water from the shops, which is too costly for most of the slum dwellers.

As a result, the surface water has exposed them to several disease causing pathogens, some which are life threatening.

A recent study by IHE Delft Institute for Water Education in collaboration with scientists from universities in Uganda and Tanzania discovered traces of 25 different harmful viruses in surface water in the slums of Kampala and Arusha.

The study, whose findings were presented at the Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) in Vienna, Austria, found that most groundwater in the two slums contained traces of herpes viruses, poxviruses, and papilloma-virus. The latter could be one of the causes of different types of cancers in the region.

Cancer is one of the lead killer diseases in the East African region, claiming about 100,000 lives every year.

According to Lutaaya, the condition of spring water in Bwaise in Kampala, where the study was conducted is not different from the situation in lower Makerere slums.

“To our knowledge, these viruses have never been found in groundwater before on such a large scale, perhaps because there has never been an in-depth analysis,” said Dr Jan Willem Foppen, one of the researchers.

To support the communities, the scientists have been conducting experiments to understand the nature and safety of groundwater in these slums.

In lower Makerere slum for example, the research scientists through the UKaid funded UPGro programme, in a project known as T-GroUP, the scientists have sunk two boreholes, one with a shallow depth of just three metres, and another with a depth of 25 metres.

The researchers have been monitoring the water quality in both boreholes for a number of months, and the early indication is that the deeper borehole has much safer water compared to the three metre shallow borehole.

“We have not concluded this study, but there is an indication that deeper groundwater is likely going to be the solution for thousands of residents in this slum,” said Dr Foppen.

Through the T-GroUP, the scientists have been experimenting with practical transition groundwater management strategies for the urban poor in Sub Saharan Africa. They employ the Transition Management theory to find radically new and collaborative ways of using and managing urban groundwater.

Dodowa residents prone to diseases from contaminated wells – Research

by Gifty Amofa/Christabella Arkvi, Ghana News Agency 

More than 12,000 people are likely to contract water-borne diseases if they continue to use water from their contaminated dug wells in Dodowa, in the Greater Accra Region, according to a research report.

Samples of water were tested for rotavirus, bacteriological quality and others, with about 27 percent of the dug wells testing positive for Rotavirus in the Zongo, Wedokum, Obom and Apperkon communities, where the research was conducted.

Professor Sampson Oduro-Kwarteng, an Associate Professor of the Department of Civil Engineering, of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), who shared the findings, said the groundwater, located near toilet facilities and refuse dumps had been contaminated with human and animal excreta.

Continue reading Dodowa residents prone to diseases from contaminated wells – Research

Policy priorities for the boom in urban private wells – IWA The Source

Rapid urban population growth has led to a boom in private well construction to access groundwater supplies. Evidence from four Indian cities highlights the need for coherent public policy to harmonise private and public investment in urban water supply. By Mohammad Faiz Alam and Stephen Foster.

Read on: https://www.thesourcemagazine.org/policy-priorities-for-the-boom-in-urban-private-wells/

Cutting-edge discovery on viruses in groundwater: T-GrouP at EGU press conference

Associate Professor Jan Willem Foppen, leader of the T-GroUP project will be presenting his team’s work on mapping DNA viruses in groundwater under African cities at a press conference on Monday 8th April at 14:00 CEST.

This is part of the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU), that will be held in Vienna, 7-12 April at which Jan Willem will be presenting.

More details about the research findings to follow.

Meanwhile… here is what T-GroUP has published so far:

  • Nastar, M., Isoke, J., Kulabako, R., Silvestri, G. (2019). A case for urban liveability from below: exploring the politics of water and land access for greater liveability in Kampala, Uganda. Local Environment, DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2019.1572728. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13549839.2019.1572728 
  • Silvestri, G., Wittmayer, M. J., Schipper, K., Kulabako, R., Oduro-Kwarteng, S., Nyenje, P., Komakech, H., Van Raak, R (2018). Transition Management for Improving the Sustainability of WASH Services in Informal Settlements in Sub-Saharan Africa—An Exploration, Sustainability, 10(11), 4052, available at: https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/10/11/4052 
  • Lutterodt, G., van de Vossenberg, J., Hoiting, Y., Kamara, A.K., Oduro-Kwarteng, S., Foppen, J.W.A. (2018). Microbial groundwater quality status of hand-dug wells and boreholes in the Dodowa area of Ghana. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15 (4). DOI: 10.3390/ijerph15040730
  • Nastar, M., Abbas, S., Aponte Rivero, C., Jenkins, S. & Kooy, M. (2018): The emancipatory promise of participatory water governance for the urban poor: Reflections on the transition management approach in the cities of Dodowa, Ghana and Arusha, Tanzania, African Studies, DOI: 10.1080/00020184.2018.1459287
  • Grönwall, J. & Oduro‑Kwarteng, S. (2018). Groundwater as a strategic resource for improved resilience: a case study from peri‑urban Accra. Environmental Earth Sciences, 77(6). https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12665-017-7181-9
  • Lutterodt, G., van de Vossenberg, J., Hoiting, Y., Kamara, A.K., Oduro-Kwarteng, S., Foppen, J.W.A. (2018). Microbial groundwater quality status of hand-dug wells and boreholes in the Dodowa area of Ghana. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15 (4), 730. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5923772/
  • Komakech, H.C. and de Bont, C. (2018). Differentiated access: Challenges of equitable and sustainable groundwater exploitation in Tanzania. Water Alternatives, 11(3), 623-637. Available at: http://www.water-alternatives.org/index.php/alldoc/articles/vol11/v11issue3/457-a11-3-10/file
  • Grönwall, J. (2016). Self-supply and accountability: to govern or not to govern groundwater for the (peri-) urban poor in Accra, Ghana. Environmental Earth Sciences75(16), 1163. doi:10.1007/s12665-016-5978-6

Developing short, medium and long term actions for improving water, sanitation and waste management in Dodowa (Ghana)

re-posted from T-GroUP.science

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)

:: New UPGro paper :: Participatory scenario analysis for urban water and sanitation: Kisumu, Kenya case study

“A participatory methodology for future scenario analysis of sub-national water and sanitation access: case study of Kisumu, Kenya” by Heather Price, Lorna. G. Okotto, Joseph Okotto-Okotto, Steve Pedley & Jim Wright: https://doi.org/10.1080/02508060.2018.1500343 from the UPGro Catalyst Project “Sustaining groundwater safety in peri-urban areas

Context:

  • Many cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, and other low and middle income countries, are growing fast. Expansion of water supply systems to meet that growing demand is challenging, particularly in the context of climate change and competing water uses, such as agriculture.
  • Scenario planning, with geographical information systems, is an essential tool to help government bodies and utilities plan investments in urban and peri-urban water supply infrastructure and services, but examples in developing countries remain rare and have generally been rural.
  • The case study, Kisumu, is a city in Western Kenya near the shores of Lake Victoria. The Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company (KIWASCO) has responsibility across the city.

Key Points:

  • 12 key informants with particular insights into the water and sanitation sector, social and economic planning and human population dynamics were identified and included in two sessions: (1) Background information and future trajectories of population growth; (2) computer software called “International Futures” was used to explore different population scenarios, which formed the basis of discussions on water and sanitation planning for the city in three groups.
  • Through the participatory planning in separate groups it was possible to draw out where areas of consensus and uncertainty about how the city, and its demand for water and sanitation will change. One area of common agreement was that groundwater and on-site sanitation will remain an important part of the mix until at least 2030, which implies and longer-term need for interventions like household filters, chlorine dispensers at well heads, education or land tenure reforms to enable sewerage installation.
  • Future research should focus on a broader range of scenarios than just extending current trends in population change, for example: ethnic conflict, social fragmentation, and rapid, Chinese-led infrastructure development.

 

Related UPGro work on urban groundwater or groundwater for urban areas:

 

Picture: Figure 5. Map of household water access by 2030 for sub-locations in and neighbouring Kisumu, Kenya, assuming continuity of current trends and policies, as envisaged by break-out groups 1, 2 and 3.

How are multiple actors identifying and discussing the main problems affecting their community? Insights from the Transition Management process in Kawala community, Kampala (Uganda)

Sixteen participants belonging to Kawaala community participated in the first Transition Management arena with the aim to define the most urgent and priority problems in their communities. The participants arrived on time and shared since the beginning of the meeting their motivation to participate. Most of the participants already knew the T-GroUP research team since it has been disseminating its research findings in the community and some researchers participated in some of the meetings organized at community level. The dissemination of information and the continuous engagement of the researchers at community level played a key role in building trust with the community residents and in creating a comfortable atmosphere during the Transition Arena meeting. After an introduction given by the local team coordinator Prof. Robinah Kulabako, the participants discussed in two groups the most important problems in Kawala community.

TGroup1
Figure 1. Participants of the TM arena meeting working in groups.

Participants voiced the following as the main challenges affecting their community: lack of water supply, insecurity, inadequate sanitation facilities, poor infrastructures (e.g. roads and houses), contamination and scarcity of water, unemployment and poor waste management services. Then, participants in each group were invited to discuss the causes of these problems as well as the reasons of persistence. Multiple causes of the problems described above were discussed, such as the low awareness of the residents on how to build proper sanitation facilities or how to collect waste, the corruption and political tensions in the different sectors, and the lack of consultation and participation of local residents in decision-making processes run by local authorities. A representative from each group very enthusiastically presented the main points discussed in their group, as shown in the following picture.

TGroup2
Figure 2. A participant presenting the main insights from the work done in his group.

The other participants actively participated in this last part of the meeting by asking questions, sharing their point of view and adding other examples connected to their experiences. One of the highlight of the meeting is that political tensions should be taken into account in the multi-stakeholder process because they are one of the causes of failure of many projects and initiatives in Kampala. The engagement, participation and collaboration with local authorities like Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and public utility companies like the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) is key for the development of new practices, cultures and policies related to water, sanitation and waste management. Additionally, the unsustainable behavior and practices of local residents regarding water, waste and sanitation management needs to be taken into account and innovative ways of engaging and sensitizing citizens need to be explored.

TGroup3
Figure 3. A woman sharing her point of view during an open discussion.

 

Safe water in towns and peri-urban areas: challenges of self-supply and water quality monitoring

Millions of people in towns and cities across Sub-Saharan Africa depend on groundwater day-to-day – but is it safe to drink? How can we measure the safety quickly, cheaply and accurately?  In this RWSN-UPGro webinar, Dr Jenny Grönwall (SIWI/T-GroUP) and Dr Dan Lapworth (BGS) present the latest updates on their research into urban groundwater monitoring and use, and how it can be improved.

The Transition Management process is underway in Dodowa (Ghana)

by Giorgia Silvestri, reposted from t-group.science

The Dodowa local transition team organised the first Transition Management arena meetings, which took place on 28th and 29th of September 2017 in four different communities of the Dodowa peri-urban area.

These first meetings represented the starting point of the overall Transition Arena process consisting of a series of monthly meetings.

Continue reading The Transition Management process is underway in Dodowa (Ghana)

Disseminating T-GroUP research result findings in Dodowa (Ghana)

by Giorgia Silvestri, re-posted from t-group.science

In February 2017, the Dodowa transition team organized several meetings with the inhabitants of four communities and the active members of two community based organisations (CBOs) in Dodowa (Ghana) with the purpose to disseminate the research results of the T-GroUP project and, more specifically, to inform all about the status of groundwater quality in the area. The dissemination activities in the communities also aimed at identifying potential participants to take part in the Transition Management process. This means that during the meetings the local researchers paid particular attention to identifying those people that showed interest and motivation and therefore could be potential participants of the Transition Management arena process.

Continue reading Disseminating T-GroUP research result findings in Dodowa (Ghana)