Ethiopia Phase 2 – Survey Update

UpGro Combined

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.



2nd Project workshop meeting, Edinburgh, 21-24 Nov 2016

Overview and aims of the workshop

Since our last project workshop, held in Addis Ababa Ethiopia in September 2015, the first main survey phase of the project (to survey the functionality and performance of a sub-sample of water points and committees) has been completed within each of the three countries, alongside a rapid political economy analysis studies for Ethiopia and Malawi (Uganda to happen within the next few months).

The aim of the workshop was to bring the project team together to foster our growing working relationships, and to:

1. Review Survey 1 – key challenges and successes – and to review the initial analysis of the data and plan for more detailed final analysis
2. Planning of Survey 2  – location and site selection criteria, the research approach and aims, methods and logistics
3. Planning of the Longitudinal studies in the 3 countries for both physical and social science surveys
4. Interdisciplinary research – to review and discuss our approaches to interdisciplinary science in the Hidden Crisis project and lessons learned from other UPGro Projects
5. Discuss ongoing stakeholder engagement and a Publication Strategy – for both the country research teams, and for the project as a whole.


Attendees and meeting programme

The workshop was held at the British Geological Survey (BGS) office in Edinburgh, UK, over four days – from 21st to 24th November 2016.  Representatives from all institutions and from each country involved in the research consortium attended the workshop – 23 people in total.

Day 1 was focused to reviewing the work of Survey 1 across the three countries and the initial data analysis; on Day 2 the key logistics and research aims of Survey 2 happening  in 2017 were discussed, as well as the political economy work completed so far; Day 3 explored interdisciplinary research in the project, and the key aims and logistics for the longitudinal studies; and, Day 4, was used to identify and review the key priorities and planning actions for the next few months across the project team for the next main research survey phases. Several short “Ted talks” were also given throughout the week.

Summary of discussions

Presentations were made by Dessie Nedaw (Ethiopia), Michael Owor (Uganda) and Evance Mwathunga (Malawi) of the successes and challenges in completing Survey 1 across the three countries.    The project database and QA process which has been developed to store all the data collected by the project (both physical science and social science) from Survey 1, and subsequent surveys.


A preliminary analysis of Survey 1 data from Ethiopia was presented by Dessie Nedaw and Seifu Kebebe.  The analysis used the project approach of examining the impact of using different definitions of water point functionality.  These include: working at the time of visit, having an acceptable yield, passing national inorganic chemistry standards, and whether they contained total thermal tolerant coliforms.



The initial results of the rapid political economy analysis (PEA) work from Malawi and Ethiopia were presented by Naomi Oates and Florence Pichon of ODI, respectively.

There were detailed discipline group discussions and wider project team discussions to identify the main methods, key criteria for site selection and the main challenges and logistics for planning Survey 2.  Discussion was given to logistical and ethical challenges of repair of water points visited, risk of damage of the water points, and management of community expectations and follow-up during the mobilisation phases.  Key timescales for planning were identified by the project team.


A half day of the workshop was focused on a wider project team discussion of our approach to interdisciplinary science – and the key challenges and opportunities of doing this in the next phases of the project.  Kirsty Upton (of the UPGro programme co-ordination group) gave a presentation of an external MSc research paper, which has reviewed the different approaches to interdisciplinary science across the 5 UPGro consortium projects.  Lissie Liddle (PhD student Cambridge University) presented the systems dynamics analysis she will be conducting for the Hidden Crisis project, bringing together physical and social science data, as part of her PhD within a Bayesian network analysis; and, Richard Carter then led a facilitated project discussion on our different perceptions of physical and social science factors to HPB failure.

Malawi Phase 1 – Survey Update

Progress to date

The Phase 1 survey is now 80% complete and the team are preparing to start fieldwork in the final district, Mzimba. The survey began in the south; Balaka was the first district to be completed, followed by Machinga, Lilongwe Rural and Nkhotakota. The rains have now begun in the south but will not reach Mzimba for another few weeks, so the survey is on schedule to finish at the very end of the dry season.

A total of 160 hand pumped borehole (HPBs) have been surveyed to date, 32 of which have been abandoned or were non-functional at the time of assessment.


Survey 1 completed in Uganda

Survey 1 completed in Uganda – report from Joseph, Felece and the team

Survey 1 in Uganda was conducted from June 4 to September 15. A total of 200 boreholes across ten districts has been surveyed – three of the districts in central Uganda, two in the western region, three in the northern part, and two in the eastern part of the country. In each of these districts, 20 communities/boreholes were visited and surveyed.  Out of 200 boreholes surveyed: 60% were found to be in use at the time of visit, 20% were not functioning, and 20% were abandoned.


UPGro Survey 1 in Uganda consisted of a team of 6: Physical science researcher – Joseph; Assistant physical science researcher – Bonny; Social science researcher – Felece; Driver & bucket changer – Phillip; and two pumpers (identified by the district water officer of each of the respective districts).  Michael did a commendable job in ensuring the smooth running and success of the Uganda survey, and working closely with WaterAid Uganda whose assistance in ensuring the Survey was completed on time was invaluable and greatly appreciated.   In Uganda, pump mechanics were found very useful due to being more conversant with the road network and communities of their district. Hence, for each district at least one of the pumpers was a pump mechanic. This enabled a number of challenges to be overcome as they were known by their communities and hence saved a great deal of time for the survey team.

 The team has gained a lot of experience from the ‘twin survey’ (i.e. physical and social science surveys) methodology, equipment and the different social communities across the Uganda. In addition, the survey 1 has helped most of the surveyed district water officials to update their borehole status database.

 Major challenges found by the Survey team in Uganda were: accessibility to water points, due to poor road network and farmland boundaries; finding social committees especially where HPB’s had been abandoned; and the tight time schedule of the survey. Fortunately all the challenges were overcome and finished our survey of ten districts in time!