September 21, 2016

Feature: Zambia’s Eastern Water and Sewerage Company Invests In Water Management

September 21, 2016

WATER and energy are undoubtedly important players in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional social and economic development.

The proportion of the Zambian population without access to safe drinking water remains high estimated at 47 percent with rural dwellers being the worst affected.

It is noted that several deaths each year are caused by unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene.

Public spending on water and sanitation has been quite low at about 0.4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with Government spending at only 0.01 percent.

Water scarcity especially in rural areas is one of the World’s leading problems affecting more than 1.1 billion people globally meaning that one in every six people lacks access to safe drinking water.

Over half of all people in developing countries suffer at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits

Over half of all people in developing countries suffer at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund(UNICEF) defines safe drinking water as water with microbial, chemical and physical characteristics that meets WHO guidelines on water quality.

It is noted that availability below the threshold of 1,000 cubic meters represents a state of water scarcity while anything below 500 cubic meters represents a state of absolute scarcity.

As of 2006, one third of all nations suffered from clean water scarcity but Sub-Saharan Africa had the largest number of water stressed countries of any other place on the planet and of an estimated 800 million people who live in Africa, 300 million live in a water stressed environment.

Human Development Report indicates that human use of water was mainly allocated to irrigation and agriculture adding that developing areas such as those within Africa, agriculture accounts for more than 80 percent of water consumption.

However, the geographic limitations and seasonality in availability of water hinder its optimal use for the purpose of necessitating the need for increased storage, inter-basin transfers and cooperation among

To adequately address the issue of water scarcity in Zambia, Eastern Water and Sewerage Company Limited (EWSC) with the help from various partners has emphasized the need to invest in water resources to reduce unnecessary suffering and ensure that the commodity was always available to its customers.

Dahlia Lungu, a Chipata resident said the investing into water supply kiosks by the water utility company EWSC had assisted a number of people to access safe drinking water.

“This is a good move what the company has done to invest in water supply service. The company must continue investing into the projects that increase access and reliability of water supply service,” she

According to Company Managing Director Lytone Kanowa, the water project covering Nyimba, Katete and Chadiza has been completed and waiting commissioning.

In Nyimba, the major works carried out includes the construction of an elevated storage tank of 500 mm3 capacity, water distribution system and the district office and Chadiza works had involved major rehabilitation of the raw water pump station, water treatment plant and elevated storage tanks, which were heavily leaking making a loss of over 70 percent of water produced.

A new water distribution network was worked on including an 8 kilometre long water transport pipeline from Sadzu Water works to the township adding that a new office was also constructed.

In Katete the major works included the construction of a 1.1 million m3 earth dam and a new water treatment plant which had necessitated the migration from groundwater system.

“The ground water supply system was highly inadequate mainly due to low output. Therefore, the districts of Nyimba, Katete and Chadiza are now on 24 hours water supply service following this investment.

Initially before the water project was implemented, the hours of water supply for the districts were a maximum of 12 hours for Nyimba, 4 to 8 hours for Katete and 12 hours for Chadiza district,”Mr Kanowa said.

He explained that the total project cost was 13.92 million Euros which was equivalent to K158 million adding that the construction of the dam and water treatment plants and system has improved the quality of life.

“As you may be aware water is life. This project has already made it possible for Eastern Water and Sewerage Company Limited to supply 24hours of water service and improve reliability and availability of
water,” he said.

Water supply and management remains a problem in several developing countries

Water supply and management remains a problem in several developing countries

Mr Kanowa said the plant capacity for all the district was much bigger than the current demands meaning that the company needs less than 12 hours of pumping to satisfy 24hours the customers in the project district.

Therefore EWSC will be able to provide reliable service even in the districts of Nrimba, Katete and Chadiza the midst of the current load shedding

He said the major output of interventions for the company plan for the next five years was to improve accountability of water by reducing non-revenue water which stands at approximately 39 percent at
corporate level to less than 25 percent, increase coverage and of water supply hours especially for Chipata which has the lowest coverage of all.

To achieve this, Mr Kanowa said the company needs to expand water distribution system in the districts with excess water to supply thereby expanding to some growth centres and new districts of Vubwi
and Sinda.

He said through the National Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Programme(NUWSSP) under the Ministry of Local Government and Housing, the company was optimistic to increase coverage to all urban and peri-urban areas of Eastern Province and Chama District in Muchinga Province which later was under its jurisdiction.

“The programme for expansion of water supply services in Chipata is underway. Through Gauff Engineering Consultants, details designs for complete facelift of the water supply system in Chipata is underway and is planned to will be completed by the end of in 2017,”he said.

He said currently the company does not have capital funding for the water and sewerage project in the new districts of Vubwi and Sinda.

He said with support from Government, the detailed designs of the water supply scheme for Sinda were ready and at the moment Government was making arrangements to purchase the dam in Sinda belonging to a local business man as efforts to get groundwater did not yield good results yet.

“Perhaps hydro-geological survey needs to be done on a much larger area than what was done,” he said.

As for Vubwi, Mr Kanowa said Government through the Ministry of Local Government and Housing (MLGH) was also looking for funding through the frameworks of the NUWSSP to implement a centralized water supply scheme and probably sewerage system.

The managing director said the Ministry of Local Government has facilitated the drilling of boreholes in both Sinda and Vubwi districts.

On illegal connections, he said the company has commenced customer database cleanup in its quest to establish the number of illegal connections among other objectives.

He said the company was estimating that approximately 3200 out of a total of 17,900 customers were not billed either as a result of having illegally connected or reconnected water supply, or inactive due to
own supply from boreholes and wells.

He said the billing ratio for company was as low as 82 percent while the benchmark set by the regulator National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) was a minimum of 98 percent.

Mr Kanowa said he was elated that last year, the company was recognised as the third best performing water utility on a number of performance indicators assessed by the regulator of the water sector NWASCO.

Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo said people must settle the bills with the utility company.

Strides which have been made by the company could be frustrated if people do not pay the water bills.

September 20, 2016

Nigeria: Floods Kill One, Destroy 100 Houses in Zamfara

Mohammad Ibrahim
September 20, 2016

Climate-related natural disasters including floods, storms and heat waves have steadily increased across the globe over the past 40 years. Photo by Muchunguzi Emmy

Climate-related natural disasters including floods, storms and heat waves have steadily increased across the globe over the past 40 years. Photo by Muchunguzi Emmy

Following torrential rains across northern Nigeria, floods have destroyed about 100 houses and rendered over 500 people homeless in Zamfara State Northwest part of the country.

A 60-year old woman was also reported to have been killed in the floods which occurred at the weekend. Victims are now calling for assistance from the government.

The floods which occurred in Gumi and Gayari towns of Gumi Local Government Area also destroyed farmlands and killed several animals.

Speaking on behalf of the victims, Muhammad Bala called on governments at the federal, state and local government levels to come to their aid by providing them with relief materials to alleviate their loses.

Confirming the incidence, Vice Chairman of Gumi Local Council Area of the state, Sa’idu Bawa said a request for assistance would be forwarded to both state and federal governments after the official compilation of the extent of the damage.

“Apart from the disaster in Gumi town, the floods also happened in Gayari district. After the assessment, we will compile the list of the victims after which the local government council will give its support to the victims,” he said.

The floods affected Albarkawa, Yardiga, Yartsayasu and Lemawa areas of Gummi town. Recently six people lost their lives in a boat mishap in the local government area in Zamfara State.

September 20, 2016

Ethiopia: African Water Ministers Root for Web-Based Pan-Africa Water Sector Monitoring and Reporting System

Aaron Kaah Yancho
September 20, 2016

The African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) has called on African member-states to adopt and strengthen the web-based Pan-Africa water sector monitoring and reporting system recently launched in Stockholm, Sweden during the World Water Week.

This is in recognition of the critical role of monitoring and reporting in evidence-based decision-making in the water and sanitation sector at national, basin and regional levels.

Dr. Canisius Kanangire, AMCOW Executive Secretary made this call yesterday at the African Union Commission headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, venue of the training workshop on water and sanitation sector monitoring for member-states and stakeholders.

Dr. Canisius Kanangire, AMCOW Executive Secretary

Dr. Canisius Kanangire, AMCOW Executive Secretary

According to Dr. Kanangire, the web-based Pan Africa Monitoring and Reporting System “represents AMCOW’s innovative response to addressing the data challenge in Africa where Member-states use different data management methodologies and standards which do not permit effective comparison of countries’ efforts in achieving regional commitments.”

The newly launched M&E framework aspires to assist Member-states, working in collaboration with the AMCOW Secretariat and the AUC, in adopting and perfecting a common reporting format that will facilitate annual reports to the AU on the basis of data and information collected at national and sub-regional levels.

“This will, in the long run, result in a continent-wide credible monitoring and reporting system that will regularly provide critical and strategic information on the status of water development and its use (usage) for various purposes to facilitate informed decision making by African Governments,” says the AMCOW Executive Secretary.

Commending the workshop initiative as being of timely essence, the African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, in her welcome remarks expressed optimism that the web-based monitoring and reporting system will “significantly reduce the reporting requirements on our already overburdened statistical departments across Africa.”

The AUC Commissioner restated the need for Africa to stay on course towards realizing the target of the Africa Water Vision 2025 which envisages “an Africa where there is an equitable and sustainable use and management of water resources for poverty alleviation, socio-economic development, regional cooperation, and the environment.”

“Translating that vision of the Africa we want into reality makes it incumbent upon us to consolidate the gains of our achievements to-date by utilising the opportunity presented by this web-based Monitoring and Reporting System to revitalise our on-going efforts at developing, managing and utilising our water resources in a way that unleashes Africa’s development potential,” Hon Tumusiime added.

An appreciable number of the workshop participants from South Sudan, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana described the training as very crucial and timely as it kick-starts the process of developing the 2016 Africa Water and Sanitation Report for submission to the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Governments in Africa.

Organised by the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the series of workshops which began today comprises Monitoring and Evaluation Focal Persons from Water Resources Ministries in Anglophone countries in East, North and West Africa will end tomorrow while that of English speaking countries in Southern Africa will follow immediately at the same venue.

Francophone countries from Central, East, North and West Africa will converge in Abidjan from the 26th to the 27th of September 2016 for French version of the training.

August 31, 2016

Thai Students Win 2016 Stockholm Junior Water Prize for Natural Innovative Water Retention Device

Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)
August 31, 2016

Winners of the 2016 Stockholm Junior Water Prize

Winners of the 2016 Stockholm Junior Water Prize

Three students from Thailand, Sureeporn Triphetprapa, Thidarat Phianchat and Kanjana Komkla, received the 2016 Stockholm Junior Water Prize yesterday for their innovative water retention device that mimics the water retention of the Bromeliad plant.

H.R.H. Prince Carl Philip of Sweden presented the prize at an award ceremony during World Water Week in Stockholm.

As the three received the prize, Kanjana Komkla said “I’m really happy but I think every team is the best! And thank you everyone.”

By examining the efficacy of natural water collection by plants – especially in terms of the shape of plants that collect and capture water – Sureeporn Triphetprapa, Thidarat Phianchat and Kanjana Komkla built a device that mimics the water retention of the Bromeliad plant. The device has also been installed on rubber trees on rubber plantations. For this, they have been awarded the 2016 Stockholm Junior Water Prize, showcasing that nature is the best teacher.

The Jury was impressed by the winners, in particular their exceptional creativity, unrelenting diligence, enthusiasm and true passion for water.

“The theme of the 2016 World Water Week is Water for Sustainable Growth. The winning project addresses future water security and rural livelihoods using an elegant leap-frog technology which looks simple, but its beauty masks its complexity! The project embodies the theme well through its journey from the idea to application,” the Jury said in its citation.

“It has already proven to be scalable and is now being tested in the field, by hundreds of farmers, who are now benefiting from the inspiration from beautiful plants which have an exceptional capacity to collect and store water.”

Asked how she would want to take the winning project further, Sureeporn Triphetprapa said: “I will use our idea to relieve poverty in our community.”

“This shows that to make real progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, we need to start at the local level. This is a very good example of that; a simple, smart and scalable solution, making a big difference”, said Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of SIWI.

The Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition brings together the world’s brightest young scientists to encourage their continued interest in water and the environment. This year, thousands of participants in countries all over the globe joined national competitions for the chance to represent their nation at the international final held during the World Water Week in Stockholm. Teams from 29 countries competed in the 2016 finals.

A Diploma of Excellence was awarded to the students Gabriel David Alejandro Trujillo, Eunice Yaneli Masegosa Gaona and Carlos Castellanos Dominguez from Mexico. Their project – a pilot plant – combines an artificial wetland, electrofoculation process and a purification system to promote the use of reclaim water for small agricultural activities and school uses, such as bathroom discharges and cleansing.

“This team went right ahead to build and operate the kind of system that is often researched but rarely implemented well – if at all. Their accessible, practical solution is simple. The selection of local plants, previously undervalued, has made this innovation cost-effective to implement, and at the same time scientifically sophisticated,” the Jury said.

August 30, 2016

Africa Roots for Tracking Progress on Water-Related SDGs as the 2016 World Water Week Begins

August 30, 2016

The need for action on the implementation the Sustainable Development Goals as well as tracking progress on water-related SDGs dominated the opening plenary of the 2016 World Water Week which began earlier today in Stockholm, Sweden.

“It is time to turn commitment into action.” With these words, the Swedish minister for foreign affairs, Margot Wallstrom, reaffirmed the sense of determination that characterized the opening plenary.

According to her, the significance of water issues stretches far beyond being just question about water but also about the potential benefits for women and girls, in terms of health aspects as well as freeing up time for school work and employment.

“I would very much like to see more men in developing countries take part in fetching water as that will start changing things and speed up development.” Wallström added.

Engr Gerson Lwenge, Tanzanian minister for water resources and irrigation and President of the African Minster’s Council on Water (AMCOW)

Engr Gerson Lwenge, Tanzanian minister for water resources and irrigation and President of the African Minster’s Council on Water (AMCOW)

In his premiere address at the global water event, Engr Gerson Lwenge, Tanzanian minister for water resources and irrigation and President of the African Minster’s Council on Water (AMCOW) drew parallels between the theme of this year’s World Water Week, “Water for sustainable growth” and the outcome of the recently concluded 6th Africa Water Week which firmly established Africa’s roadmap to achieving the SDG-8 as well as other interlinking SDGs connected with water resources management and improved sanitation delivery.

“Our commitment to achieving an Africa where there is equitable and sustainable use and management of water resources for poverty alleviation and socio-economic development, regional cooperation and the environment remains unwavering and that is why we have established a Pan African monitoring and reporting system capable of informing policy and tracking progress on the SDGs in Africa,” Engr Lwenge said.

The AMCOW president who led a delegation of African water ministers to Stockholm declared that “Africa is already linking the monitoring and reporting processes from member-states to sub-regional, continental and even global levels to reduce the burden and duplication of monitoring efforts at various levels by making information generation, assessment and dissemination easy for all stakeholders in the continent.”

Torgny Holmgren SIWI Executive Director

Torgny Holmgren SIWI Executive Director

The Executive Director of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and organisers of the World Water Week, Torgny Holmgren, noted that 2015 was a year of several global decisions and agreements that will guide development efforts for decades to come.

“With a Sustainable Development Goal dedicated to water and sanitation, several other goals, which depend on reliable access to water to be achieved and also the Paris climate agreement, water will not only be an integral part of both mitigation and adaptation efforts but will continue to determine the parameters for inclusive, sustainable growth, full and productive employment,” Holmgren says.

Holmgren believes that this year is when efforts to put words into action start as all initiatives, large and small, from all actors, will need to be considered.

“We must be open to unconventional alliances. We can only reach the goals we set for ourselves if we are serious about collaboration, about doing it together and breaking new ground. This is what I hope to see at World Water Week: the creation of new partnerships, the seeds for innovative solutions, the welcoming of out-of-the-box thinking,” the SIWI Executive Director added.

Angel Gurria, the Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) touched on financing during his speech, taking the opportunity to introduce his organisation’s recent reports and initiatives, many of them addressing water financing. He also commended the lengthy work leading to water being recognised as a universal concern, most notably as part of the SDGs but stressed that agreeing on that something have to be done is far from satisfying. On what should be the next step, Angel Gurria declared: “implementation, implementation, implementation – although not necessarily in that order.”

Hosted and organized by SIWI, World Water Week in Stockholm is the leading annual global event for concretely addressing the planet’s water issues and related concerns of international development. The 2016 World Water Week which explores the theme “Water for Sustainable Growth” will end on the 2nd of September 2016.

August 30, 2016

Nigeria: 60 Houses Submerge In Kaduna Communities

Mohammad Ibrahim
August 30, 2016

One of the households affected by floods in Kaduna

One of the households affected by floods in Kaduna

About 60 houses were submerged by flood in Kaduna communities as a result of heavy rainfall which occurred as a result of long hours of heavy downpour that started on Friday morning till evening of that day.

The flood affected houses, schools and shops within the state metropolis including Hayin Dan Mani, Hayin Bello new extension, Abubakar Kigo road new extension, Barnawa, Narayi , Romi, Kinkino and Kurmin Mashi among others.

The flood occurred weeks after the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA warned that floods will likely occur in eight major rivers and their tributaries in the course of 2016.

It was reported that the Director-General of the agency, Dr Moses Beckley, gave the warning at the presentation of the 2016 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) in Abuja Nigeria’s capital in July 2016.

Beckley listed the rivers as Niger, Benue, Sokoto-Rima, Anambra-Imo, Cross River, Niger Delta, Komadougu-Yobe, Ogun-Osun and several other sub-basins of the country.

It was gathered that the Kaduna flood forced hundreds of people out of their homes as a result of the flood while the roads too were covered by water making it difficult for residents to evacuate their properties.

Most of the affected houses are located near the bank of River Kaduna and those built without drainage or with blocked drainages.

Similarly, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) weeks ago raised alarm that eight LGs in the state were likely to experience flood; thereby warning residents close to river banks and flood prone areas to vacate for their safety.

Kaduna State Emergency Management SEMA already sent their staff to assess the extent of damage caused by the flood.

The Executive Secretary of SEMA, Ezekiel Baba Karik said so far about 60 houses were affected by the flood.

“The flood was mild below what we expected based on NEIMET prediction. Few houses within Kaduna metropolis and Kafanchan were affected. We are still assessing the extent of damage but the houses will not be more than 60 because the water came and passed. Water will always find its way,” he said.

According to him, the flood was caused by human induced factors including lack of proper drainage and blocked drainages among others. “Most of the affected victims are already taking their properties back to their houses because the water level has gone down,” he said.

August 30, 2016

2016 World Water Week opens in Stockholm

Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)
August 30, 2016

Leaders and experts in the water, climate and development communities have gathered in Stockholm to discuss how water can enable the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Under the theme Water for Sustainable Growth, some 3,000 people from over 120 countries are meeting in Stockholm this week for the 26th annual World Water Week. With water crises being listed as one of the top global risks in the coming years by the World Economic Forum, and a rapidly growing world population putting pressure on scarce water resources, seeking solutions to the world’s many complex water challenges is becoming ever more urgent for the researchers, policy-makers, and representatives of civil society and the private sector meeting in Stockholm.

Mr. Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of Stockholm International Water Institute

Mr. Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of Stockholm International Water Institute

Opening the Week, Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of the organizer, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) said: “Without reliable access to water, almost no Sustainable Development Goal will be achieved. To make that happen, we must ensure water’s centrality to the entire Agenda 2030. This will show the power water has a connector.”

“Water connects not only sectors, but also nations, communities and different actors. Water can be the unifying power, the enabler for progress in both Agenda 2030 and the Paris climate agreement”, said Holmgren.

The Mayor of Stockholm, Karin Wanngård, underlined the role cities need to play in realizing the development agenda. “Cities represent a large portion of future growth. We have the job growth, the universities, the creative ideas. We also face the biggest emissions, the social problems, and housing shortage. Our participation in the struggle for sustainable solutions is key for global success. And that means a growing responsibility, a moral responsibility towards future generations and their ability to live in cities where it is possible to work, live in security, breathe the air and drink the water.”

Addressing the opening session, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallström reinforced the message that water is a connector and an enabler in realizing the SDGs. “Successful realization of Goal 6 of the 2030 Agenda will underpin progress across many of the other goals, particularly on nutrition, child health, education, gender equality, healthy cities and healthy water ecosystems and oceans.”

The Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Angel Gurría, said that water, from having been a subject that was rarely discussed with urgency, has come to the front and centre of international deliberations. “Water now has the place it needs to have in international priorities”, said Gurría.

Today, Tuesday 30 August, the Stockholm Junior Water Prize will be awarded to one national team out of the 29 competing nations by H.R.H. Prince Carl Philip of Sweden.

On Wednesday 31 August, the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize will be awarded to Joan Rose, for her tireless contributions to global public health; by assessing risks to human health in water and creating guidelines and tools for decision-makers and communities to improve global wellbeing. The prize will be awarded to Joan Rose by H.M. Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden, during a ceremony in Stockholm City Hall.

August 29, 2016

Water and Climate Experts Call For Green Water Initiative in Africa

Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)
August 29, 2016

World Water Week has been the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues since 1991. Image by :

World Water Week has been an annual focal point for the globe’s water issues since 1991. Image by :

Water and climate experts yesterday called for a Green Water Initiative, as part of a Water Revolution in Africa, a necessity, they said, for alleviating hunger on the continent and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

At the onset of World Water Week, a group of world-renowned hydro-climate experts said that rainwater harvesting and other green water management methods, are key to alleviating hunger in sub-Saharan Africa and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

Green water is the part of the rain that infiltrates into, and is stored in, the soil.

“Large parts of the world are struggling to adapt to a drier reality, but challenges are especially dire in Africa’s drylands. Africa’s climate is its Achilles Heel”, said Professor Malin Falkenmark, Senior Scientific Advisor to Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).

In the water-scarce regions of sub-Saharan Africa (mainly consisting of savannah), direct management of scarce rainfall must form an integral part of the development agenda, said the group, which includes Malin Falkenmark, Johan Rockström, Johan Kuylenstierna, Charles J. Vörösmarty, Torgny Holmgren, and Fred Boltz, during Sunday’s Malin Falkenmark Symposium at World Water Week.

The vast drylands encircling the Congo Basin are home to some 750 million people, a number that is expected to increase to 1.6 billion in the next 35 years. Meanwhile, agricultural yields in this region are very low, on average around one tonne per hectare, as a result of frequent droughts.

The group said that to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 2 (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture), Africa needs a Triple Green Revolution: green for productive use of green water, green for intensification and enhanced food production, and green for sustainability and building water resilience in watersheds.

Rain, the scientists said, is the ultimate water source in dryland agriculture, as the limited blue water (such as rivers and streams) will be needed for increased urban water supply, industry and energy production.

Water is an important resource and is used in many different ways.

Water is an important resource and is used in many different ways.

They suggest rainwater harvesting systems that can offer supplementary irrigation, harvested from slopes and valley bottoms and stored in ponds or dams for use during dry spells and drought periods.

To finance the initiative, the group proposed a Water Harvesting Innovation Fund for Africa, to build water resilience for food security and human well-being.

“Initiatives like the Green Water Initiative in Africa, within the framework of the 2030 Agenda is of great importance if we will have any chance of realizing the Sustainable Development Goals. I hope to see some concrete response to this call,” said SIWI’s Executive Director Torgny Holmgren.

The group behind the call include:
Malin Falkenmark, Stockholm International Water Institute and Stockholm Resilience Centre;
Johan Rockström, Stockholm Resilience Centre;
Johan Kuylenstierna, Stockholm Environment Institute;
Charles J. Vörösmarty, CUNY Advanced Science Research Center;
Torgny Holmgren, Stockholm International Water Institute; and
Fred Boltz, The Rockefeller Foundation

World Water Week, the leading annual global meeting for water and development issues, is hosted by Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). It welcomes over some 3,000 participants from over 120 countries, who gather to discuss global and local water and development challenge.

August 24, 2016

Ethiopia: Data Farming – How Ethiopian Farmers Harvest Data to Help Their Crops

August 24, 2016

What’s the weather doing? It’s a question that obsesses many but for many Ethiopians it is question that makes the difference between plenty and destitution. Ethiopia is a rich and diverse country that is home to around 100 million people, 88 different languages and imbued with long, diverse history. Its highlands are seasonally wet and fertile and its lowland deserts are among the most parched places on Earth.

Dangila woreda, or district, is a hilly area in the north west of the country with a population of around 160,000 people spread across an area of about 900 km2. Although the area receives rainfall at around 1,600mm a year, over 90% of this falls between May and October. For farmers, who depend on livestock and rainfed crops, understanding and predicting these rains is crucial to their livelihoods. Traditional strategies, which have served for millennia, are coming under threat from new pressures of shifting climate patterns, land degradation and population growth.

Exactly what is happening now and what is likely to happen in the future is uncertain due to the lack of rainfall, river flow and groundwater level data. Throughout much of Sub-Saharan Africa, under-investment by governments has led to a widespread decline in environmental monitoring, and this in turn makes water resources management harder and harder.

Community River monitoring in Dangila woreda, Ethopia (D. Walker, Newcastle University)

Community River monitoring in Dangila woreda, Ethopia (D. Walker, Newcastle University)

But what if those who stood to gain most from better understanding and management of water resources were those leading the data collection? Can communities reliably collect accurate weather, river and groundwater data? This is the question that is being investigated by researchers, led by Newcastle University in the UK through an UPGro-supported project called AMGRAF ).

In a new paper in the Journal of Hydrology , David Walker and his colleagues explain why they think citizen science has a future in rural Ethiopia and beyond:

“The benefits of community involvement in science are being slowly recognised across many fields, in large part because it helps build public understanding of science, ownership and pride in the results, and this can benefit both individuals and local planning processes,” said Walker. “Because there are so few formal monitoring stations and such large areas that need to be understood and managed, we need to think differently about how data collection can be done.”

The community-based monitoring programme was started in February 2014 and residents of an area called Dangesheta were involved in the siting new rain and river gauges, and identifying wells that were suitable to be monitored. Five wells are manually dipped every two days, with a deep meter to measure the depth from the ground surface and the water level in the well; a rain gauge was installed in the smallholding of a resident who then took measurements every day at 9am; two river gauge boards were installed in the Kilti and Brante rivers and were monitored daily at 6am and 6pm.

Every month, the volunteers would then give their hard copy records to the Dangila woreda government office, who then typed them into an Excel spreadsheet and emailed to the research team.

But is this data any good? For David and his colleagues, this was a critical question that could make or break the whole approach. The challenges of data validation are substantial, and there are generally two types of error:
Sampling errors come from the variability of rainfall, river flow and groundwater level over time and over area. The sampling error increases with rainfall and decreases with increased gauge density. A challenge in tropical areas, such as Ethiopia, is much of the rain is high-intensity thunderstorms, which can be quite short in duration and small in size, and therefore easy to miss, or only partially record, if the density of monitoring stations is low.

Observational errors are the second type, and can come from a number of things: wind turbulence, splashing around the gauge, evaporation can affect how much is in the rain gauge, and then the observer might not read the gauge accurately or make a mistake or unclear notation, when writing the measurement down.

“Tracking down errors is tricky, but it can be done, mainly through statistical comparison with established monitoring stations and with each other,” said Walker. “What we found was that the community collected data is more reliable than that gathered through remote sensing instruments from satellites.”

It is hoped that this promising approach can attract further support and be used more widely, but what are the secrets, and challenges, to making community monitoring work?

“People are at the heart of this process and selection of volunteers is crucial to avoid problems with data falsification or vandalism,” concluded Walker. “Feedback is absolutely vital and through workshops and meetings the data can be presented and analysed with the community so that they can make decisions on how best use the available rainfall, river flows, and groundwater to provide secure sources of water for their farms and their homes.”

August 24, 2016

Africa Groundwater Atlas: “X” Marks the Spot, But Where’s The Map?

August 24, 2016

Africa Groundwater Atlas overview

Africa Groundwater Atlas overview

Drilling for water is a fraught business in Africa – like being a pirate without a treasure map. In many areas, the rock is old – some of the oldest on our planet.

This cracked, shattered stone that is blasted by desert heat or soaked in tropical rains with often only a thin covering of rust-stained soil, can hold substantial amounts of water, but a driller needs to know where to look and the skill to develop a water source that will last. A metre or two can make the difference between a dry hole and a well that could supply a village or a farm for a lifetime.

The good news is that in many parts of Africa, there is more groundwater available close to most areas where it is needed and the potential to store more with land use or technology changes. Currently, groundwater is an underused natural resource in much of Africa – where water insecurity is rife and drought is currently threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in southern and eastern Africa.

For once, there may even be a rare silver lining to climate change – as it appears that in some environments groundwater recharge happens more readily when rainfall intensity is high . Thus understanding and managing Africa’s aquifers should be central to poverty alleviation and climate resilience strategies.

A challenge up until now has been the lack of easily available groundwater information:
“When you drill a borehole in the UK, there are incredibly detailed maps and borehole logs [registered with the British Geological Survey (BGS)] to help you decide where to drill,” said Sean Furey, a water and sanitation specialist at Skat told The Guardian . “Even in countries where a similar organisation exists, that sort of data isn’t available because NGOs, the private sector or even governments who commission boreholes aren’t aware that they need to submit their drilling logs.”

In May, the Africa Groundwater Atlas was launched and is a major step forward in addressing this information gap.

The British Geological Survey has developed the Atlas in partnership with the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) Burdon Groundwater Network for Developing Countries, and with more than 50 collaborating groundwater experts across Africa.

For each of 51 African countries, the Africa Groundwater Atlas provides new overview geology and hydrogeology maps and summaries of the key geological environments and aquifers in each country.

There are sections on groundwater status, use and management, including groundwater monitoring, with up to date information on the national organisations involved in groundwater development and management. There is supporting material on geographical setting, climate, surface water, soil and land cover, with accompanying maps; and finally, there are references and links to more detailed information for those wishing to find out more.

Accompanying pages highlight important issues related to African groundwater, such as recharge, groundwater development techniques and transboundary aquifers; with links to sources of further information.

Also available is the Africa Groundwater Literature Archive, which enables users to search (geographically and by keyword) and freely access thousands of articles, reports and other documents about African groundwater.

The Africa Groundwater Atlas is still being developed. Some of the pages still have limited information, and for many others there may be more details to be added or updates to be made – and there is still a need for country-level collection of borehole logs. However, if you are working in Africa on rural or urban water supply, water resources, environmental protection, agriculture, mining or forestry, you should bookmark the Atlas in your web browser today.

We can’t tell you if X marks the spot of the hidden treasure you are looking for – but at least now you have a map.

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