At the Stockholm Water Week a small group including dr. John Cherry, recipient of the 2020 Stockholm prize, and the SMART Centre Group proposed an idea for safe drinking with the title Bold idea ‘2 with 8’.
2 billion people safe drinking water at point of use with a grant of $8 billion.
The SMART Centre Group is present at the Stockholm World Water Week, which takes place from 23 August – 1 September. The first few days were online and from Sunday 28 August – Thursday 1 September there are on-site session in Stockholm.
One of the highlights so far was the keynote by Dr. John Cherry on ‘solving rural water poverty’ during which he strongly argued to include Self-supply as one of the models to reach the rural populations. More information.
This year we do not have a physical booth, which means we are flexible to meet with you.
It is the end of a major effort and the beginning of a new era. With the conclusion of the five-year Water and Development Alliance (WADA) programme, in three of Madagascar’s biggest cities, the country is ready to build on its legacy to continue improving its water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. WADA comes to an end, but the work of authorities and the national water utility, with the support of local communities, continues.
Having run between June 2017 and June 2022, WADA addressed many challenges in water distribution, sanitation services, and hygiene practices faced by low-income communities in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, and in the cities of Mahajanga, in the north, and Toliara, in the south. From the installation of WASH facilities near homes to increasing capacity of staff within JIRAMA, the national utility, WADA has dealt with urgent problems of the past, alleviated conditions of the present, and set the ground for further improvements in the future.
One of the main missions of WADA was to create better conditions for the local population to access clean water. For many, the main obstacle for easier access has always been the distance, so hundreds of WASH facilities have been installed nearer the homes of residents.
“The kiosk is near us, we have clean water every day”, says Mbola Rasamimanana, resident of Soalandy, in Antananarivo, about the new facility installed as part of WADA. The fact that fetching water is no longer an activity taking too much of her time means she can now dedicate herself to other commitments, including paid work. “We have more time for income-generating activities, as we no longer go far to fetch water and wash our clothes.”
Easier access to clean water has improved an aspect of life even more important than economic activities: health. “Before the provision of potable water by the WADA project, we were often in poor health”, says Ms Rasamimanana. “Children were often sick.” That reality is, thankfully, now behind her and her family. “Now we are in good health.” According to Yves Arsène Rakotondranaivo, Deputy Mayor of the Soalandy Commune, the new structures installed by WADA benefit 65% of the residents in the commune of Soalandy Ankadivoribe.
In its five years, WADA built a total of 361 WASH facilities in Antananarivo, Mahajanga and Toliara. While the water kiosks have been the main highlight, with a total 248 brand new ones built, schools have also benefited significantly, receiving 22 either new or refurbished toilet blocks, which have improved the overall hygiene conditions of children.
Communities have also been enjoying the facilities and social interactions provided by the 16 new communal laundry blocks, where the task of washing clothes also works as an engaging gathering of neighbours. Another important intervention was the connection of six water tanks to the water supply network and 60 new connections shared by different households, benefiting over 600 families.
Capacity for the future
The five years of the WADA programme brought improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene to more than 500,000 people in Antananarivo, Mahajanga and Toliara. It was a much-needed support for Madagascar’s population, especially considering the size of the challenges in the country in the WASH sector. According to the World Bank, around 80% of Madagascar’s population live in poverty, which means that a significant share of the residents in big cities lack access to basic water services. In Antananarivo, around 12% of the 3.2 million people do not access clean water. In Mahajanga and Toliara, that share is estimated at 11% and 16%, respectively. In sanitation, those numbers are even more dramatic: 70% in the capital, 75% in Mahjanga, and 78% in Toliara.
Changing the country’s reality more significantly will require time and sustained efforts in the future, for which WADA has also provided foundations. “We have benefited from WASH facilities, such as laundry blocks and water kiosks, and also capacity building for the management of these infrastructures”, says Mr Rakotondranaivo.
The management of those facilities was handed to autonomous associations, under the supervision of the communes. This arrangement has guaranteed that local capacity was gradually built, and knowledge consistently transferred, ensuring the smooth operation of facilities and services after the formal ending of the WADA programme.
“We monitor the operation of the WASH facilities and the activities of the water kiosk agents”, explains Viviane Harilalao, President of Mirindra Association. “We also monitor the revenue and its transfer from the fund manager to the Water User Association Treasurer.”
The focus on the future is also clear in the investment WADA has made in children’s hygiene. The construction of new WASH facilities in schools and the hygiene education programmes mean that very young Malagasy people will incorporate healthier lifestyles and a better understanding of public health, things they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
“We have sensitised and trained teachers and students”, says Ravaka Tefisoa Rakotobe, Director of the Belanitra Public School, in Antanannarivo. Amongst many other newly adopted tasks embraced by both school staff and pupils, was the establishment of a “School Garden”, which works as a learning place for the children and has generated cabbage and parsley that have been sold or consumed in the school’s canteen.
What makes Ms Rakotobe particularly proud, however, is the overall recognition of the transformation that has taken place – and which included new toilets, showers, drinking water station and rubbish facility. Her school obtained the WASH Friendly School Certification Level 3, a status awarded by the Ministry of Education, after evaluation done in collaboration with the ministries of WASH and Public Health.
The certification requires the school to have access to potable water; use of hygienic WASH facilities, including hygienic latrine; hygiene promotion as part of the curricula, with practice by the students; a school WASH Committee to ensure operation and maintenance. Level 3 is the best score of them all – and that is why Ms Rakotobe, her team and their students are adamant to keep it for good. “As a strategy to maintain WASH-Friendly Level 3, we have set up an organisation, by class, for the use, cleaning, and maintenance of WASH facilities.” If a school manages to maintain the Level 3 for several years, it receives the label of “WASH Friendly School”.
WADA’s initiatives to improve the operations of Madagascar’s national utility, JIRAMA, have also focused on the years ahead. From new equipment for laboratories responsible for water quality testing to training and technology aiming at reducing non-water revenue (both physical and commercial losses), the programme has prepared JIRAMA for a much more ambitious future, characterised by growth in water distribution and higher quality of its services.
“We have received several kits for the JIRAMA Laboratory from WADA, including molecular absorption and atomic absorption spectrophotometer, precision balance, PH meter, gamma ray measuring device, and the oven”, lists proudly Pascale Rakotomahanina, Manager at the Water Quality Management Department, in Antananarivo. Similar investment in JIRAMA’s testing facilities in Mahajanga gave the city even more valuable tools for its work: speed and autonomy.
“The acquisition of equipment from the WADA project now allows us to do many types of analysis on site in Mahajanga”, says Edward Randrianirina, Head of JIRAMA’s Water Quality Section. Amongst the tasks his team can now perform independently from the capital are bacteriological analysis and detection of toxic elements.
WADA has achieved all the above, and much more, while establishing strong ties with the communities involved, from the very beginning. This has particularly been the case with the female population, which has been directly involved in the changes and benefited from economic opportunities they have created.
“The project ensured the involvement of all local stakeholders and took care of the most vulnerable people, notably women”, says Sylvie Ramanantsoa, WSUP’s Country Manager in Madagascar.
WADA comes to a close having transformed the water, sanitation, and hygiene reality of hundreds of thousands of residents in three major cities of Madagascar. After five years, based on the many accomplishments of the project, the seeds for a much better future in the country’s WASH system are now planted. Embraced by local authorities, utility, and communities, the journey towards continuous and constant improvement has only just begun.
Top image: residents using laundry block built as part of the WADA programme, in the commune of Soalandy
The WADA Madagascar project was also funded by UK aid from the Government of the United Kingdom, Dubai Cares, Cartier Philanthropy, OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), The Halcrow Foundation, and JIRAMA.
Out of respect, following the death of Her Majesty the Queen, WSUP has suspended external communications.
Whilst WSUP’s vital work on the ground continues in Africa and South Asia, we have decided that in recognition of the national and international periods of mourning for HM Queen Elizabeth ll, we will pause our external website and social media communications.
The Queen was a constant and steadfast presence both in the UK and internationally during her remarkable reign, and her loss will be felt deeply by many.
WSUP will resume its external communications following the Queen’s funeral.
This year we are celebrating 30 years since the Rural Water Supply Network was formally founded. From very technical beginnings as a group of (mostly male) experts – the Handpump Technology Network- we have evolved to be a diverse and vibrant network of over 13,000 people and 100 organisations working on a wide range of … Continue reading "From Tractors to the Tara pump"
With climate change affecting water availability all over the world, it is imperative for any local, regional, or national utility to use resources wisely. More than ever, water must be distributed in a way that serves all citizens, preserves the environment, and guarantees the financial viability of the operation. Considering the size of the challenge, do you have what it takes to face it?
As part of World Water Week 2022, WSUP and Cranfield University have developed a new online game, The Water Balance Challenge, a provocative, engaging, and fun instrument to help people consider their choices and risks when in charge of water distribution in an urban environment.
Through a series of questions and multiple choices of paths to take, the player is asked to navigate not only through the wide range of situations faced by those in charge of a water system, but also random events that affect the overall operation, from politics to marketing.
The game will be jointly promoted at World Water Week, in Stockholm, by WSUP and Cranfield University.
Ready? Click here to play The Water Balance Challenge!
A service for all residents
The Water Balance Challenge takes the player to the fictional city of Kaladi, in Africa. Almost half of its residents (40%) lack access to safely managed drinking water, despite the city being close to a great river and having access to groundwater.
The player is the new Managing Director of Kaladi Water and Sanitation company, which must meet targets of the Sustainable Development Goal-6, related to water and sanitation, of 100% coverage by 2030. That includes the most vulnerable parts of the local population.
It is vital to reach that goal while preserving precious water resources, ensuring all customers receive a fair share of the service, and charging households equitably. Finding that balance, including the company’s relationship with different levels of government, is not easy.
Kaladi has well defined two seasons, the rainy and the dry ones. When it rains, the local community suffers with disruptive flooding. Floods and droughts are becoming more frequent, which has been affecting the levels of both the river and the aquifer.
The game’s fictional city has a population of 150,000, with a 7% annual growth rate, a consequence of the impact of climate change over rural areas.
The situation presented by The Water Balance Challenge reproduces what is seen in real life in many urban environments, particularly in developing nations. The combined pressures of population growth and reduction of available water, both consequences of changes in the climate, force authorities and utilities to find different solutions to reach the goal of universal distribution of water.
Amongst the many sources of water under threat in that context is groundwater, which is vital if communities are to be regularly and reliably served with clean water. Despite being more resistant to changes in the climate than other sources above the ground, aquifers have been affected by pollution and excessive use.
Communities and authorities have become more aware of the need to use water more wisely, fighting wastage in any possible way. From improved infrastructure to the use of digital technology, utilities have been working towards systems and operations that strive for the correct use of every drop. In a world marked by climate change and constant increase in urban populations, that is the only way through which water security can be achieved.
This year we are celebrating 30 years since the Rural Water Supply Network was formally founded. From very technical beginnings as a group of (mostly male) experts – the Handpump Technology Network- we have evolved to be a diverse and vibrant network of over 13,000 people and 100 organisations working on a wide range of … Continue reading "Why self supply solutions are needed to reach SDG 6.1"
Cette année, nous célébrons les 30 ans de la création officielle du Réseau rural d’approvisionnement en eau. Après des débuts très techniques en tant que groupe d’experts (essentiellement masculins) – le Handpump Technology Network – nous sommes devenus un réseau diversifié et dynamique de plus de 13 000 personnes et 100 organisations travaillant sur un … Continue reading "Tirer parti de la puissance collaborative du RWSN"
This year we are celebrating 30 years since the Rural Water Supply Network was formally founded. From very technical beginnings as a group of (mostly male) experts – the Handpump Technology Network- we have evolved to be a diverse and vibrant network of over 13,000 people and 100 organisations working on a wide range of … Continue reading "Leveraging the collaborative power of RWSN"
This year we are celebrating 30 years since the Rural Water Supply Network was formally founded. From very technical beginnings as a group of (mostly male) experts – the Handpump Technology Network- we have evolved to be a diverse and vibrant network of over 13,000 people and 100 organisations working on a wide range of … Continue reading "RWSN shaped my professional life"
Cette année, nous célébrons les 30 ans de la création officielle du Réseau rural d’approvisionnement en eau. Après des débuts très techniques en tant que groupe d’experts (essentiellement masculins au sein du Handpump Technology Network) nous avons évolué pour devenir un réseau diversifié et dynamique de plus de 13 000 personnes et 100 organisations travaillant … Continue reading "Le RWSN a façonné ma vie professionnelle"
This is the second in a new monthly series of articles, named “Letter from…”, written by WSUP’s teams in the main countries where we operate (Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Zambia, and Madagascar). In the first week of the month, one of those teams will have an article on the WSUP’s website about life in their communities. Our second Letter comes from Ghana and focuses on the importance of the Ashanti Region for the country.
By Frank Romeo Kettey, Country Manager, in Kumasi
The Ashanti Region is, in many ways, the heart of Ghana. Considered the cultural centre of the country and home to the famous Kente fabric, it is one of the sixteen Ghanaian administrative regions. The region, located in the middle belt of Ghana, is famed for its gold and cocoa production. The world-renowned Ashanti King has its origins from the Ashanti Kingdom, which originated in the 17th Century.
The Kingdom ruled for centuries until it joined an independent Ghana in 1957, as the Ashanti Region. The region thus retained the rich and culture of the Ashanti kingdom, which includes a 42-day month calendar that helps to mark special traditional days. The Ashantis have a unique way of bidding farewell to the dead, through celebrations that can last for days. Ashanti arts are mostly represented in the adinkra symbols which a many different symbols with distinct meanings.
With a population of about 5.4 million, or about 18% of Ghana’s 30 million people, the Ashanti Region is also urbanising rapidly: 61% of its residents now live in urban areas, against a national average of 56%. Whilst rural urban drift has characterised urbanisation in Ghana for decades, an evolving trend is rural communities metamorphosing into small towns, creating new small urban areas. Rural services are no longer adequate in these communities, and there is a requirement for larger, more formalized systems and services.
The pace of urbanisation has thus outstripped development planning and investment, creating enormous pressure on infrastructure, social support systems, and availability of urban services, including water sanitation and hygiene, especially for low-income communities and the vulnerable.
Much needed pipelines
Just like other regions of Ghana, access to basic water and sanitation is challenging in the Ashanti Region. Only 29% of the population has access to basic sanitation, with water coverage faring better at 95.6%, albeit mainly through public standpipes. Less than 27% of the people have access to safely managed water on their premises, with access available whenever needed and without any harmful contaminants.
In order to support efforts to address the challenge of poor WASH services in this rapidly urbanising part of the country, WSUP has been operating in the Ashanti Region since it started its work in Ghana, in 2010, delivering sustainable impacts in 25 out of its 43 municipalities. Since then, WSUP has worked in partnership with municipalities, utilities, the private sector, and local community actors to drive improvement in water, sanitation, and hygiene access, while strengthening capacities to sustain those WASH services.
Through these partnerships, WSUP has successfully supported extension of water pipelines by the local urban utility to low-income communities in the region’s capital, Kumasi. This meant supporting communities with 75 public standpipes, household connections, and 200 cubic metres of overhead water storage unit, building the capacity of local communities and water vendors to support sustainable services.
WSUP also works with the utility and small community service providers to adopt and operationalise delegated management model in some communities to support the utility to reach underserved and low-income customers.
Similarly, WSUP has worked across 10 cocoa growing small towns with water and sanitation infrastructure. This has included provision of mechanised boreholes, transmission and distribution lines, standpipes with multiple taps, household connections and 20 cubic metres of overhead water storage units for each of the communities. We have also worked with residents to trigger demand and construct household toilets in locations where open defecation was rife.
We have further worked to engage municipalities in the region to support sanitation enterprises and artisans, in order to improve access to household toilets. WSUP’s work also involves developing markets for onsite sanitation and building the capacity of enterprises in technical specification of toilet systems, basic business management, customer relations, marketing, while connecting them to effective supply chains.
Our work in the region has also included supporting schools and municipal education officers to improve WASH, with the provision of new facilities (including menstrual changing rooms for girls) and setting up hygiene clubs in 10 basic schools in the region.
At the outset of Covid-19, WSUP worked with 9 municipalities in the region to build the community resilience to Covid-19. In collaboration with the Ghana Health Service, National Commission for Civic Education, municipal authorities and community-based organisations, we effectively disseminated Covid-19 prevention messaging and provided much needed PPEs while further building institutional capacity within the municipalities to respond to health and WASH emergencies.
WSUP’s work has helped public and private service providers to respond to WASH challenges occasioned by rapid urbanisation. We work in the major city and urban communities in the region, but also support urbanising cocoa growing small towns in the region with improved WASH infrastructure, supporting municipalities and communities to evolve effective management models for sustainable services, building capacity and creating enabling environment for private sector participation in WASH service delivery in these locations whiles improving regulation.
All those efforts have one major thing in common: supporting the Ashanti Region in its major challenge of dealing with a rapid and broad transformation of its communities.
The Ashanti Region will continue to be an important region for WSUP in Ghana. Our 2025 strategic plan seeks to consolidate the impacts made in the region by expanding our efforts into new municipalities, focusing on empowering service providers and community actors. This aims at ensuring sustainable access to safely managed water, access to household toilets, and stronger systems across municipalities for effective regulation. Being the heart of Ghana, the Ashanti Region needs increasing strength, so the whole country can benefit from its growing health, resilience, and progress.
Top image: Community in Asokore Mampong, part of the city of Kumasi