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.
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 season
- 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 interviews.
- 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 decision-making processes.
- NGOs, universities and social movements can play a crucial role in magnifying the ability of communities to act together and achieve liveability goals.
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 between actors.
- 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.
“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”
- 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.
- 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:
- UPGro Consortium project (live)- T-GroUP:
- UPGro Catalyst Project (complete): Mapping groundwater quality degradation beneath growing rural towns in Sub-Saharan Africa
- UPGro Catalyst Project (complete): ARIGA: Assessing Risk of Investment in Groundwater Resources
- Urban Groundwater Dependency in Tropical Africa – a scoping study of pro-poor implications (March 2017): https://upgro.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/urban-groundwater-report_0015.pdf
A quick reminder that today’s RWSN webinars feature presentations from UPGro research:
“Safe water in towns and peri-urban areas – challenges of self-supply and water quality monitoring”
Tuesday, 24th April 2.30 pm CEST (Paris)/ 1.30 pm BST (UK)/ 8.30 am EDT (Washington DC)
“ La salubrité de l’eau dans les villes et zones péri-urbaines: les défis liés à l’auto-approvisionnement et le suivi de la qualité de l’eau“
Tuesday, 24th April 11h00 CEST (Paris)/ 9h00 GMT (Dakar)
Webinaire en français: https://meetings.webex.com/collabs/#/meetings/detail?uuid=MDZ2FEQ4F99KOZKTSAGKS9IQFC-BUDR
- Dr Jenny Grönwall (SIWI/UPGro T_GroUP)
- Dr Dan Lapworth (British Geological Survey/UPGro catalyst/Hidden Crisis/GroFutures)
- Dr Anne Bousquet (UN-Habitat/GWOPA)
For more details on the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) 2018 Early webinar series visit the RWSN website.
With water shortages in Cape Town, South Africa, hitting headlines worldwide, it was timely that the African Water Association (AfWA) convened their 19th Congress in Bamado, Mali around the theme of “Accelerating access to sanitation and water for all in Africa amidst the challenges of climate change”.
We were extremely fortunate that Dr Anne Bousquet of the Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Association (GWOPA) was able to attend and present the UPGro urban groundwater study led by Prof. Stephen Foster last year. Her presentation was entitled “Groundwater – rational use to enhance urban water security under global change” [download presentation] .
Anne reflects on the presentation and the discussion with participants: Continue reading Is the Cape Town Time-bomb coming your way? Water Ministries and Operators need to do more to keep the water flowing
A UPGro paper has been published by Dr Jenny Grönwall (SIWI) and Dr Sampson Oduro-Kwarteng (KNUST) of the T-GroUP project, entitled “Groundwater as a strategic resource for improved resilience: a case study from peri-urban Accra”
Water insecurity is a growing concern globally, especially for developing countries, where a range of factors including urbanization are putting pressure on water provisioning systems.
The role of groundwater and aquifers in buffering the effects of climate variability is increasingly acknowledged, but it can only be fully realized with a more robust understanding of groundwater as a resource, and how use of it and dependency on it differ.
Accra, in Ghana, and its hinterland is a good example of an African city with chronic water shortages, where groundwater resources offer opportunities to improve resilience against recurring droughts and general water insecurity.
Based on a mixed-methods study of a peri-urban township, it was found that for end users, particularly poor urban households, resilience is an every-day matter of ensuring access from different sources, for different purposes, while attention to drinking water safety is falling behind.
Planners and decision makers should take their cue from how households have developed coping mechanisms by diversifying, and move away from the focus on large infrastructure and centralized water supply solutions.
Conjunctive use, managed aquifer recharge, and suitable treatment measures are vital to make groundwater a strategic resource on the urban agenda.
photo: Dr Grönwall
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:
What to find out more or get involved? Join the RWSN Sustainable Groundwater Development community on Dgroups.
9. In rural areas groundwater is often the cheapest source of safe drinking water
The capital cost of a borehole and handpump is about USD40 per person (say USD1.50 per person per year). The recurrent costs are about USD4.50 per person per year. The total is about USD6.00 per person per year. Piped schemes cost about twice as much.
[Source: WASHCost Working Paper 8, 2013, IRCwash.org]
10. In urban areas many people use shallow ground-water despite the fact that it is very vulnerable to pollution
The high cost of connection to piped water services makes it more attractive to use a private well despite the poor water quality
[Source: Danert, K, Adekile, D and Gesti Canuto, J (2014) Manually Drilled Boreholes: Providing water in Nigeria’s Megacity of Lagos and Beyond, Skat Foundation http://www.rural-water-supply.net/en/resources/details/618]