New UPGro studies explore links between groundwater and poverty in rural and urban Africa

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:

10 things to know about groundwater: 9 & 10

Hidden Treasure: 10 reasons to know more about groundwater / 2 priorities to take seriously – briefing note

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

New Picture

[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]