This workshop organised by WaterAid Ethiopia programme and held in Addis Ababa, brought together a range of stakeholders working in the WASH Sector in Ethiopia, to disseminate and discuss some of the emerging key findings from the Hidden Crisis Project. There was strong representation from research and academic institutions in Ethiopia, as well as government officials and NGOs, and there was significant discussion as to how the project research can as catalyst for further research in Ethiopia.
The workshop was opened by the WaterAid Ethiopia Country Director, Yaekob Metena. Several presentations were given during the day by some of the main UK and Ethiopian project researchers – providing and overview and insight to the project research, the methods, and the key findings to date. This included presentation of the newly published District Sustainability Assessment (DSA) Executive Summary that was conducted across the three project country as part of the research to provide insight to the district-level institutional factors affecting sustainability of rural boreholes fitted with handpumps.
WAE Country Director Yaekob Metena on the occasion said that:
The research findings enable actors to further understand the context and underlying factors that influence functionality of underground water points and other associated factors.
The Luwero study tour was a one day field trip organized by UPGro Hidden Crisis project in partnership with the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment, as part of the pre-AfWA Congress and Exhibition Conference being held in Uganda 24-27 February 2020. Running under the title of “Rural Water Supply Functionality: Beyond Numbers” the study tour visited the Luwero District Water Office and two rural communities where the Hidden Crisis research team had undertaken some keyresearch.Twenty five officials attended the tour, bringing together a range of valuable expertise from Central Government, District Water Offices, Rural Water Supply practitioners, NGOs, international donors and researchers – stimulating rich discussion on rural water supply functionality.
Central to the day’s discussions were (i) how hand-pumped boreholes are commissioned, managed and maintained; (ii) the importance and impact which different functionality definitions have to assessing HPB functionality status; and, (iii) the vital role of HPB maintenance plays to long term functionality outcomes and service levels. The tour involved practical demonstrations at water points, detailed conservations with community members involved in the Hidden Crisis project research, as well as wider stakeholder group discussions.
The rich exchanges between participants gave greater insight to the uncertainty surrounding reporting meaningful functionality statistics, and the complexities involved in community management and maintenance, particularly when larger repairs are needed. Visiting a newly commissioned solar powered water supply visibly highlighted the challenge that low yielding basement aquifers have on the adoption of these emerging technologies. The pump could not sustain its abstraction for long before cutting out. Having such a wealth of experience on the tour, and community members who were willing to discuss honestly their experiences contributed to a highly memorable day.
The Executive Summary summarises the findings from the full DSA reports from Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda.
The DSAs were conducted to provide further insight into the district-level institutional factors that affect the sustainability of boreholes fitted with handpumps in Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda. These assessments complement the findings of other UPGro Hidden Crisis research outputs, such as the political economy analyses, the physical groundwater and hand pump assessments, and the social and community-level social science studies.
Three new country reports are now available from the Hidden Crisis project. These reports communicate the findings generated from one of five major project surveys – deconstruction and forensic analysis of 50 individual water points in Malawi. The report presents the new data generated to the groundwater resource potential in each country; the nature and condition of hand-pump borehole installations; and the significance of both of these factors to service performance.
This year’s AGC2019 event showcased research into the key role aquifers have to play in building resilience. The overall theme of the conference was “Groundwater in a Changing World”. Conference chair Professor Jim Underschultz said “Groundwater is increasingly recognised as a vital element in world water resource management and an important contributor to global health, economies, and social and environmental wellbeing.”
Eddie Banks took the opportunity of the Australasian conference to present some of the findings from Hidden Crisis project work – highlighting some of the findings from the project, which suggests rural groundwater supplies in sub-Saharan Africa are generally resilient to climate variability for the yields associated with drinking water. Analysis of environmental tracers in groundwater sampled from hand pumps in the project has shown the rural water supplies are being actively recharged and the water points often recover seasonally.
The China Africa Water Forum is a
platform for all professionals within the fields of water science and
technology in Africa and China. The China Africa Water Association also
referred to as CAWA, is a non-profit organization that predominantly
organizes annual events. One such event was held for three
days from July 22 to July 24, 2019 in Windhoek, Namibia with title “Risk Reduction through Sustainable Water
Management in Developing Countries”.
was the seventh of the series held under the title China Africa Water forum.
The conference has been prepared in collaboration between China Africa Water
Association and Namibia’s chapter of Association of Hydro-geologists and other
speech by Minister of public enterprise has emphasized the current fresh water
supply challenge of Namibia facing and the possible solution of desalinization
as the future option. The Chinese Ambassador in Namibia has emphasized on the
neeed of China Africa partnership in a win-win strategy based on mutual
benefits. He mentioned the similarities of challenges faced by both China and
Africa and stressed some of the innovative approaches and technologies in China
stressing the importance of the forum for transfer of skill and knowledge. Nearly 25 presentation from Africa and China
covering a wide range of water related topics focusing in reducing risk of
water supply, management and sustainable utilization water resources, transport
and diffusion of water pollutants and exploration and development of
groundwater has been addressed during the three days conference.
The Hidden Crisis project work was presented
at the conference within the groundwater exploration and development theme –
highlighting the work of the project to apply a tiered approach to assess
functionality of handpumped borehole supplies in terms of different levels of
performance. The findings have shown this approach to be helpful to unpack
national statistics and develop more nuanced understanding of functionality
within the country.
has given opportunity to highlight the project and also given good opportunity
to share ideas from other professionals, particularly Chinese water experts.
Ethiopia has formally requested to be the next organizer of China Africa water
forum in the meeting.
The Hidden Crisis project team have now published a
Technical Brief on the methods developed and used by the project to assess
rural water supply functionality and levels of performance – now available from
This technical brief is
aimed at sharing the learning and approaches developed by theproject
to look at how the functionality and performance levels of boreholes equipped
with handpumps (HPBs), can be assessed using a common set of definitions and
methods. A tiered approach to defining and measuring functionality was found to
be useful to examining functionality for different scales and purposes of
The report is aimed at national and regional actors
involved in the provision and monitoring of rural water supply functionality.
The brief sets out the tiered functionality definitions,
and accompanying survey methods, which were developed by the project and have
been applied in functionality surveys across Ethiopia, Uganda and Malawi
The Hidden Crisis project team examined the political
economy of rural water supply (RWS) in Ethiopia, Uganda and Malawi during 2017
and 2018. These are based on literature and interviews with government staff
and water sector stakeholders to unpick systemic obstacles to sustainable
access to water.
The three reports summarising the key findings are now
published – and available from here.
The findings provide an insight to some of the key
structural factors which affect RWS performance (historical, institutional,
actors) in the three countries – examining systematic factors, decision making
logic and opportunities for reform.
The Hidden Crisis project team met for the fourth and final
annual project meeting, which was held this year at the BGS offices in
Edinburgh, 10-13 June. Representatives from all institutions and
from each country involved in the research consortium attended the workshop –
in total 21 project researchers.
The main aims of the project
workshop were to: review the emerging results from the project; to
identify the key narrative and messages arising from the project findings; and
to assess any final remaining analytical work, and the required project outputs
and dissemination strategies. As we near completion of the project
an important part of the workshop was to also to celebrate the many successes
achieved by the project over the last four years, and to enable the project
team to come together as a whole, to continue to foster our growing working
relationships for the future. As we enter the final year of the project –
the project team reflected on the huge amount of work so far completed, and the
key milestones, successes and challenges within our project
Overall the project is on track to complete each of its
original objectives and research questions. The key remaining tasks for
the months ahead are to: finalise the overall interdisciplinary project
analysis – identifying the most significant factors and causal pathways to
functionality outcomes; complete a suite of key overview and country-focused
papers from the project; and further develop the in-country dissemination
pathways and research uptake.
Between 3 – 7 April, I attended and presented at the annual American Association of Geographers Conference in Washington DC. The conference hosted nearly 8,500 geographers, GIS specialists, environmental scientists, and other registrants from around the world sharing the very latest in research, policy, and applications in geography, sustainability, and GIScience.
The featured themes of the week-long event were:
Geography, GIScience, and Health: Building the International Geospatial Health Research Network (IGHRN)
Geographies of Human Rights: The Right to Benefit from Scientific Progress
Physical Geography in Environmental Science.
some of the research from the Hidden Crisis project as part of a panel
in a session entitled ‘hydrofeminism’. This session considered the gendered
dimension of global water flows and the ways in which women in particular are
affected by inequalities in water distribution, quantity, and quality. In
addition to this session, several other sessions were relevant to the UPGRO
Hidden Crisis project and our emerging findings, including a session on
different ‘water ontologies’ (the beliefs different indigenous groups have
about water), as well as several sessions on development challenges and
opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa.