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Before yesterdaySMART Centre Group

Recording of the WASH Debate available

15 November 2022 at 11:45

Recently we participated in the WASH Debate on 9 November 2022, organised by IRC WASH. The WASH Debate discussed the theme ‘Levering Household investments, Experiences in scaling market-based approached in water and sanitation.

As part of the Debate, Kerstin Danert presented on the outcomes of the recent assessment of the SMART Approach by IRC WASH (click here for the report).

The full recording of the session is available on youtube.

The presentation of the SMART approach starts at 15.02. The presentation is available here.

The panel discussion starts from 55:22

All Systems go Africa

25 October 2022 at 15:57

The “All Systems go Africa” conference took place in Accra from 19 to 21 October, 2022 (https://www.ircwash.org/all-systems-go-africa).

Over 260 people almost all from African countries discussed challenges and promising initiatives to reach SDG6.

For the MetaMeta SMART Centre Group Henk Holtslag presented on the topic “Service delivery models” with a presentation;  Subsidized Self-supply/ farm wells, A promising service model to reach SDG6.1 in rural Africa. The example of Zambia.

His proposition: “To reach SDG6.1 in rural Sub Saharan Africa it is more cost-effective to subsidize farm wells that serve 50 people than subsidize communal wells that serve of 250 people” created much discussion and even the observation that we should not go back to family wells but go forward to piped systems.

Look at the presentation and read the document… and share your thoughts with us!

WASH Debate on November 9th

6 October 2022 at 14:45

IRC regularly organises ‘WASH Debates’ as an event to provide an informal platform for Dutch organisations and professionals working in the international water sector to connect and to discuss the latest developments and trends in the sector.

The next WASH Debate will take place on November 9th and will focus on ‘Leveraging household investments: Experiences in scaling market-based approaches in water and sanitation’.

The upcoming WASH Debate will look at the role of Market-Based solutions in increasing the coverage with Sanitation and why this is less accepted in relation to water-supply.

As part of the event, the recent assessment of the SMART Approach will be discussed.

More info is available on the website of IRC.

The details of the event are:

Date: Wednesday 9 November
Time: 17:00-18:30 CET, followed by drinks
Location: Dudok, The Hague
Format: In-person event with possibility to follow online*

Launching the ‘2 with 8’ initiative

27 September 2022 at 15:04

Safe drinking Water

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.

This seems possible with actions like 

  • Wide scale awareness creation.
  • Supply chains of good quality water filters.
  • Payment systems and support for poorest. 

Interested? Check the pamphlet here.

SMART Centre Group at Stockholm World Water Week 2022

30 August 2022 at 10:12

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.

Feel free to reach out to us through info@smartcentregroup.com or +31642559870 (Henk) if you want to meet up.

New video on EMAS drilling

24 June 2022 at 14:15

During the recent training in Kenya, jointly organised by EMAS International and the SMART Centre Group EMAS drilling was introduced at the Aqua Clara Centre.

EMAS drilling is a low-cost drilling method, capable of drilling wells of up to 80 meters in relatively soft soils.

A team from the WOT in Enschede was present and develop a video tutorial of the EMAS Drilling Technology. The video is now available on the Youtube-channel of the WOT and has already attracted over 160.000 views!

Background to EMAS Drilling (source: Akvopedia)

The EMAS method of manual drilling is a hybrid between Jettingpercussion, and rotary drilling. A manually powered mud pump is used, and the drill stem is turned through 90 degrees at the end of each stroke. It permits to drill through all kinds of loose soils, as well as consolidated materials and light rock. It will not, however, penetrate hard original rock or boulders (e.g. ancient river beds underground). The usual diameter of the tube well is 37 mm.

The EMAS drilling method was developed by the Escuela Móvil de Agua y Saneamiento (Mobile School for Water and Sanitation, EMAS) in Bolivia. Project leader of EMAS in Bolivia is Wolfgang Eligius Buchner, born 1957 in Holzkirchen bei München.

EMAS was established in 1993, and has provided training for about 130 independent well builders in its branches in San Julian (1994) and in Puerto Pérez (1997). 20 students have been able to graduate from the licensed craftsman course. The well builders in Bolivia have founded a well builder organization.

During a three-month education, agricultural workers are trained to independently drill wells, build sanitary installations and market their skills in their local area depending on demand. The need for large financial investments for well drilling and the building of line systems has traditionally prohibited the construction of large scale potable water systems in rural areas. Wolfgang Buchner adapted already accepted suction – and rinsing drilling methods to local conditions.

EMAS is not only the name of the mobile school for water and sanitation, but also a whole technical and social concept of water and sanitation which includes rain water harvesting, solar water heaters, windpower, hydraulic rams, water treatment, small tanks and sinks, a variety of hand and foot pumps, and ferrocement tanks.

For a general introduction to the EMAS Technologies check the video below:

Feedback from the training course @ Aqua Clara, Kenya

31 May 2022 at 16:59

The SMART Centre Group and EMAS, together with Aqua Clara Kenya, recently organised a training on Self-supply technologies, at the Aqua Clara Centre in Kisii, Kenya.

A diverse group of participants from Kenya, Cameroon and Ethiopia gathered for two weeks. During the course the participants were introduced to various EMAS technologies and SMARTechs, including the drilling, hand pumps and solar pumps.

A brief training report can be accessed here.

Documentary on the SMART Centre in Malawi

31 May 2022 at 15:36

The CCAP SMART Centre in Malawi was recently visited by Laurène and Valentin, a French couple and travelling through Africa in our 4×4 van ‘Uyo’. As part of their trip they visit interesting local initiatives and share their experiences through their blog.

At the SMART Centre they visited a few days and worked with Alex, one of the trained drillers. Laurène and Valentin made a very nice movie giving a good impression of the work of the SMART Centre and the entrepreneurs.

Check out their website here: https://uyospassengers.fr/en/focus-association-low-tech-smart-centre-malawi-in-mzuzu/.


World Water Day 2022

22 March 2022 at 10:53

The theme of this year’s World Water Day (March 22) is ‘Groundwater – Making the invisible visible’. Also the World Water Forum started in Dakar.

As SMART Centres we have prepared an overview with ‘Practical ideas to reach SDG6.1 and water related SDGs in rural Africa’. Download ther overview here.

Enjoy the reading and the World Water Day!

Training course in Kenya in low cost water technologies for Self-supply /households

18 February 2022 at 10:25

Recently a Worldbank blog mentioned the study “The rising tide” indicating that women and girls in Sub Saharan Africa spend 40 billion hours per year on collecting water (Blog Worldbank).

One option to reduce time to collect water is having a well at or near the household. There are technologies that make affordable wells for small communities and households, for example EMAS technologies. In Bolivia over 70.000 household wells of 20 to 50 m deep were drilled commercially at a cost of $200 to $500 (including pump). Other low cost well drilling options are SHIPO (rotary) jetting, and Mzuzu drill and pumps include, EMAS, Rope and small solar pumps, Rainwater storage options include the EMAS underground and wire brick cement tanks. Options for groundwater recharge at the household level include the Tube recharge. For water treatment there is a range of household water filters and Satopans for sanitation.

A hands on training course on these low cost water technologies was held in Malawi in 2021
see also website SMART Centre Group. A similar course will be hosted in Kenya by Aqua Clara in Kenya (https://www.aquaclarakenya.com/) with support and trainers from the EMAS foundation and the SMART Centre Group. Download the course flyer here.

The course will take place from Tuesday 3 May to Saturday 14 May and is targetting Well drillers, welders, masons, technicians, entrepreneurs, others interested in these technologies. The fee for this course is 400 US$ which includes food during the training. Cost of travel and lodging is not included.

Those with interest can send a mail to info@smartcentregroup.com.

Feel free to forward this announcement to anyone who might be interested to join this course.

Group picture after the training in Malawi

Successful Short Course @ CCAP SMART Centre, Malawi

2 November 2021 at 12:07

EMAS technologies further reduce cost of self-supply 

The month of September has been a busy month at the SMART Centre in Malawi. For a period of three weeks Henk Holtslag (on behalf of the SMART Centre Group) and Wolfgang Buchner (on behalf of EMAS International) visited to facilitate the Short Course on ‘WASH Technologies for Self-supply’.
EMAS, the CCAP SMART Centre and the SMART Centre Group organised a training in water technologies that are affordable  for families and so fit for Self-supply and a group of 15 technicians from Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya joined for the trainings.

Group picture after the training

The first week of the training focussed on introducing the EMAS technologies through a hands on training, including the construction of a drill set and 2 EMAS pump models. Also the EMAS underground tank and the wash basis with 80 litre storage tank were constructed. Wells drilled with the EMAS drill cost 10-12US$/ metre so  a well of 20 m deep would cost ca 220US$ including a hand pump

During the second week the updated Mzuzu Drilling was shown and Mr. Phiri of the Zambia SMART Centre introduced the VES technology, as an additional option for site selection, increasing the rate of successful wells. The trainings finalized with an Open Day on 29th September, during which the newly trained EMAS Technologies were shown, together with the existing SMARTechs at the DemoGround.

A short report of the training can be downloaded here. The document also includes a brief overview of the SMARTechs. For more impressions of the training, check the pictures and the short clip below

Leaflet promoting the event
Preparing the EMAS drilling set
Overview of EMAS drilling in progress
EMAS drilling in progress
EMAS drilling in progress
Group picture after the training
Visitors appreciating the sanitation options shown at the DemoGround
Henk Holtslag introducing the SMARTechs as part of the Open Day
First EMAS pump installed after the training, by Brighton Kaniki of Zaluso Plumbing and Engineering Works in Kasungu/Mponela

Short courses on Self-supply Technologies @ CCAP SMART Centre, Malawi

27 May 2021 at 09:45

The recently published book “Self-Supply” indicates that over 1 billion people world-wide have Self-supply so water supply for which they paid themselves. Some 80% of all self-supply systems are wells. It is clear that scaling self-supply has a huge potential to help in reaching Sustainable Development Goals for water, poverty and food.

The CCAP SMART Centre Malawi, in collaboration with EMAS International and the SMART Centre Group, is organizing two short courses on low-cost Water and Sanitation Technologies with a focus on Self-supply.

Course 1 will take place from Monday 6 – 17 September 2021 and will focus on Hands on training in self-supply technologies targetting Well drillers, welders, masons, technicians, entrepreneurs, others interested in practical technologies.

Course 2 will take place from Tuesday 21 – 24 September 2021 and will focus on Demonstration of self-supply technologies and ideas to scale up targetting WASH program officers of NGOs and governments and those with general interest in approaches that can help to reach SDG6 and water related goals like poverty, food security and employment.

For more info and registration check the flyer and contact us through jamemhango@gmail.com or henkholtslag49@gmail.com.

Book on Self-supply: ‘Filling the gaps in public water supply provision’

16 February 2021 at 14:20

One of the approaches promoted by the SMART Centres is supporting self-supply, so stimulating people to invest in their own water system like a well and pump.

There is now the first ever book on Self-supply Filling the gaps in public water supply provision has been published by Dr. Sally Sutton and John Butterworth. By RWSN it has been called THE book and on the first day of publication, the book was downloaded more than 500 times already.

In the book several SMART Centres and the people involved like Rik Haanen, Walter Mgina, Reinier Veldman and Henk Holtslag are mentioned.

Self supply is increasingly seen as one of the options to reach SDG6.1 and related SDGs for food, income and employment. We highly recommend that you download and read the book. You can get your copy through Practical Action. The electronic version is for free and there are paid soft and hard-cover versions availble.

‘Self-supply has long been overlooked because it is largely unmapped, unmonitored and unregulated, and therefore invisible to policy-makers and decision-takers. This wonderful new book shows what they are missing by providing an accessible but comprehensive overview of self-supply in its many forms and contexts, from the lowest income countries to the highest. It puts people at the centre of the challenge to achieve universal water access and is a celebration of ingenuity and resilience – and highlights that household investment and remittances can play a vital role in plugging the investment gap in rural water infrastructure. This book is destined to become a classic reference that all rural water supply professionals should become familiar with.’

Sean Furey, Director, Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN)

29 January 2021: Bachir Afonso missing for one year

1 February 2021 at 12:07

One full year has passed since we have heard from Bachir Afonso, our dear friend and companion, who was the practical manager of ”Grupo de Saneamento de Bilibiza” in Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique. The 29th of January 2020, Bilibiza was attacked by resurgents from the north, burning half of the total of houses in Bilibiza. Most people of Bilibiza had fled to the woods by then. Late afternoon they came to the workshop of GSB, where Bachir still was present.
At 19.19 PM Henk Holtslag of the SMART Centre Group received an app-message in the Netherlands from Bachir Afonso saying:

“Cry for help. Armed men have entered Bilibiza and are burning from 5 PM till now. All schools were burnt. We no longer have a SMART centre. They are destroying Bilibiza!!”

This was the last we ever heard from him. So we fear for his life and probably also that from his wife. We have still some hope that he is still alive.

It would be a great loss if he has gone. He is a great guy, vivid and joyful. Always the well being of his community in his mind. He told me, Jan de Jongh, that each day he is thinking : ”How can I help my community members?”. He had the ability to put his ideas into practice. Around 2005 when I first met him, he had just started to train a group of women and men, in a backyard of a house to produce concrete latrine slabs.

He put much effort in convincing the population of Bilibiza, a few thousand, to make pit latrines , with such a slab and possibly with water for cleaning hands. As a result, last year about half of the village had such a latrine.

He was also a practising muslim, and thus member of the large muslim community in Bilibiza, who have to wash hands before saying prayers.
He was eager to learn, and what he learned, he immediately put into practice. He also had the ability to connect with people from all levels; peasants, local authorities and even the president, who visited once the project on bio-fuel we were running with him as a project leader on growing jatropha and producing bio-fuel from it.

He managed to build up a team that was able to deliver SMART technologies in water supply, mainly trained by Henk Holtslag over the years starting in 2006 until 2019. With aid from several donors, like Aqua4all, Marie-Stella-Maris and others we could let them execute various projects in villages surrounding Bilibiza, mostly in the district of Quisanga.

Bachir Afonso at one of the projects

The projects included various elements, in the area of water supply, sanitation, including soap making, food production with farmers clubs, household water treatment, with introduction of household water filters and bio-fuels (supported by a Japanese donor).

In 2010 GSB became officially a member of the SMART Centre group. Bachir guided and stimulated his team with the co-director Mrs. Tcheizi Mutemba, who resides in Maputo, and who maintains the links with international donors as well.

The team is now dispersed, but under guidance of Tcheizi they continue to work with projects , for the time being in safer areas, near Montepuez.

For us Bachir is a champion for Mozambique in local development both in human capacity building as well as in providing basic elements for prosperity in accordance with the SDG’s.

We really miss him!

Jan de Jongh

Henk Holtslag

Flemming Nielsen

Group picture at the GSB SMART Centre in Bilibiza

Water for all health centres in Eastern Zambia

1 February 2021 at 10:35

As one of the COVID-19 responses the Jacana SMART Centre in Zambia took the initiative to provide water to Health Centres in Eastern Zambia. This initiative was supported by Wilde Ganzen and several other donors.

The website www.dutchwatersector.com/ recently published a newsitem in which the project is highlighted. See newsitem.

This initiative has shown how, through the trained entrepreneurs, the SMART Centres can contribute to increased access to the much needed water at Health Centres which will, also beyond COVID-19, have an impact on the surrounding communities.

For more info, check the website of the Jacana SMART Centre:

Climate Adaptation Summit 2021

25 January 2021 at 21:28

On the 25th and 26th of January 2021 the first online international Climate Adaptation Summit will be held. The focus of CAS 2021 will be on finding solutions that enable people to adapt to the effects of climate change, such as extreme rainfall, drought, heatwaves and sea level rise. World leaders such as Angela Merkel, Ban Ki‐moon and UN Secretary‐General António Guterres will attend the high‐level opening session in the Netherlands and launch a broad Adaptation Action Agenda, setting out practical climate solutions and plans up to 2030.

The work of the SMART Centres also provides options that help households to adapt to the changing climate. Some of the work has been presented during the IAAS pre-event to the CAS. A recent 2-pager (Increase climate resilience in Africa with water buffering and the SMART approach) highlights some of the achievements of the past 20 years, with a focus on Nicaragua and Tanzania, but also provides an outlook to scale this approach.

Download the 2-pager here.

For more information on recharge technologies check here.

IAAS Youth in Agriculture pre-event of the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021

18 January 2021 at 15:06

On the 25th and 26th of January the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021 will be organised online. As pre-event to the summit, the International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences (IAAS) organised a pre-event which brought 1500+ students together. The SMART Centre Group hosted one of the workshops under the title: “SMART Centres and smart solutions Increase resilience to climate change by building local capacity in innovative and affordable water and agriculture solutions”.

Henk Holtslag, Reinier Veldman presented on the SMART approach and SMART Centres and the link to Climate Adaptation and (Youth) Employment and Abraham Mehari covered the Smart Water for Agriculture project. The workshop generated a fruitfull discussion and provided input to the ‘Call to Action’ (English, French) which will be presented by IAAS to The Netherlands Minister of Foreign Affairs during the Summit.

The presentations are available on the resources page.

COVID-19 Water Technology and Services Portfolio published by NWP

12 January 2021 at 17:33

The Netherlands Water Partnership recently developed a portfolio of ‘COVID-19 Water Technology and Services’. The portfolio is an overview of initiatives and Dutch companies who have services or products that can contribute to stop the spread of COVID and also monitor the spread. As part of the portfolio two cases work of the SMART Centres is mentioned and also the water filters of Basic Water Needs are included. Basic Water Needs has been a long term partner and supporter of the work of the SMART Centres.

The portfolio can be accessed through https://publications.dutchwatersector.com/covid-19-portfolio/start/. The individual pages related to the work of the SMART Centre can be accessed through the links below:

Very affordable solar pumps

10 December 2020 at 16:24

One of the technologies that are being tested by the SMART Centres are small solar pumps in the price range of $30 – $60. With a solar panel, a complete set would cost in the range if $80 – $120.

The Jacana SMART Centre in Zambia has recently released a manual on Electical pumps selection & installation and has also trained a group of entreneurs as ‘pump advisors’. This will be used as a service to clients to advice them on the pump suitable for their situation and provides the entrepreneurs with another possible income stream.

Check the update from the Jacana Website and request the manual here.