Phase 2 of the Hidden Crisis fieldwork is underway – right on schedule. The work has started in Ejere, a Woreda about 100 km north of Addis in Ethiopia. In this major survey of 50 poorly functioning rural waterpoints, we spend two days dismantling and testing each water point to work out what the main problem is before putting it back together again. The tests include investigating the condition of the pump and sending a camera into the borehole to check the construction. We also carry out many different tests to determine the permeability of the rocks, the chemistry of the groundwater, and the residence time of the water pumped from the borehole.
At the same time, our social science team carries out detailed discussions with different groups within the community to understand how the water point is managed, and how they cope when the waterpoint doesn’t work.
Once the field study is completed in late July 2017 we will have a unique dataset of the different reasons for the poor functionality of some boreholes equipped with handpumps. This will also help us to see linkages between physical and social aspects of rural water supply. Armed with lessons learned from this study, the Ethiopian government and partners will be able to construct more resilient water points in the future.
In case you’re wondering where the community gets its water for the 2 days we are dismantling their pump, we have two water tanks with us that are filled to keep the supply going.
The work in Ethiopia is being undertaken by a team of researchers from Addis Ababa University, the British Geological Survey, Sheffield University and WaterAid. Two more surveys in Uganda and Malawi will start later in the year.
Image captions from L-R: The team puts a camera down the borehole to investigate its construction; We lay out the pump component parts and measure corrosion and materials; Before the tests we fill up some water tanks to enable people to still fetch water.