Article By Emma Bones, Graduate Research Assistant
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
“It has become overwhelmingly clear that the main obstacle in the use and maintenance of improved water and sanitation systems is not the quality of technology, but the failure in qualified human resources and in management and organization techniques, including a failure to capture community interest. An appalling 35 to 50 percent of such systems in developing countries became inoperable five years after installation” (USAID 1981).
Why Water Point Mapping (WPM) is Important
The quote above is from 1981, yet high failure rates continue. Why is failure so common for water and sanitation systems in developing countries? Why is operation and maintenance such a huge challenge for many governments and NGOs? And, most importantly, why does this statistic still hold (more or less) true thirty years after it was originally discovered?
These were several of the main questions driving our research team as we traveled to Nicaragua during the summer of 2012 to test some of the newest and most promising water mapping technologies. I was part of a research team from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) that partnered with the Executive Director of Improve International, Susan Davis, and El Porvenir, an NGO based in Managua, Nicaragua to better understand the challenges facing O&M of water systems and to identify the most auspicious technologies to aid in water point monitoring. The Georgia Tech research team included Lily Ponitz (pursuing B.S. in Environmental Engineering), Allie George (pursuing B.S. in Civil Engineering), and myself, Emma Bones (pursuing M.S. in Civil Engineering).
Meet the Georgia Tech research team posing next to one of the El Porvenir water points we mapped (from left to right): Emma Bones, Lily Ponitz, and Allie George.
Successes, Failures, and Challenges to WPM
After a careful evaluation of the current options for cellular phone surveying applications, five were selected to be brought with us to Nicaragua for testing. Those technologies were Episurveyor1, OpenXdata, DataTap, DeviceMagic, and FLOW2. We tested the difficulty of setting-up, collecting data, and analyzing data on all five of these applications while in a developing country setting.
We were able to complete water point surveying with four of the five technologies, although we did experience major issues with many of the programs. While we were able to set-up openXdata while in the US, it failed the set-up phase in Nicaragua because of its need for advanced computing knowledge, which is hard for WASH NGOs to access or afford. The next technology that experienced complications was DeviceMagic during the data collection phase; it was discovered that the program would automatically delete water point entries overnight if they had not been uploaded via wifi the day before. The other technology that experienced major issues was Episurveyor during the data analysis phase; when we returned to the main office in Nicaragua at the end of the trip, we discovered that the online form had somehow been deleted. Eventually, we were able to download the data from the phone in a text file and import it into an excel document, but this took an above average knowledge of computer systems.
Lessons Learned and Room for Improvement
The most important result of our research was the development of a comprehensive rubric to compare the technologies tested. Each technology was given a score based on its performance in the categories and subcategories designed based on our field experience. The final scores and categories are listed below. We hope the rubric will help NGOs decide which water mapping technology is best for them and will help the technology developers improve upon their products’ weaknesses.
Allie and Lily entering data into the mobile phones at one of the wells we mapped. We were able to map each well in less than 10 minutes with the mobile technology.
Despite the issues that we encountered in our surveying efforts, many of these technologies showed great promise for helping governments and NGOs better understand and communicate the long-term success of their water points. These technologies could be especially helpful in comparing water points world-wide if a specific set of questions could be developed to gauge each water system’s performance. It would be easy to see which NGOs and countries are the highest performers, and with that understanding, their successful methods could be studied and applied to less successful organizations and areas. These water mapping technologies offer great potential in the area of international aid. However, there are still many program bugs to be solved before world-wide adoption will be possible.
If you have any more questions about our research or have an interest in us testing and ranking one of your technologies, we encourage you to reach out to us at: email@example.com.
Final Scores of WPM Technologies:
Categories of Rubric:
Vietnam, HANOI — In an amendment to the Law on Water Resources that came into effect with the new year, communities in Vietnam will now in theory have more say over projects that use water in their areas.
The amendment, which was approved last June, stipulates that investors in projects that use water or discharge waste into water bodies are required to consult with communities in local areas so the environmental impacts of the projects can be assessed during the planning stage.
However, Nguyen Thuy Anh of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, expressed concerns about the vagueness of portions of the amendment.
Washington, D.C, January 16, 2013 - The Coca-Cola Company, one of the world’s largest private sector supporters of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) solutions around the world has signed on to the WASH Sustainability Charter. The first Fortune-500 company to endorse the Charter, The
Coca-Cola Company’s backing marks the 100th endorsement for the Charter, which outlines key steps for creating lasting WASH services.
Ensuring long-term WASH service provisions is one of the greatest challenges, and most important objectives, facing the international development community. As many as 30-50% of clean drinking water projects fail prematurely, squandering limited resources and devastating communities that rely on these services. In response to this challenge, The Coca-Cola Company joins a diverse group of stakeholders, including donors, NGOs, academic groups, government agencies and others committed to the common principles for lasting services laid out in the Charter.
“The Coca-Cola Company is endorsing the Charter because we believe that investments in WASH initiatives will and should span generations. Through the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), we have always looked to develop supply chains, means of communication, and a finance stream for communities to be able to sustain the safe water and sanitation systems we help provide, which is one of the biggest challenges facing the water sector,” says Greg Koch, the Director of Global Stewardship in the Corporate Sustainability Office at The Coca-Cola Company. “Signing the Charter strengthens our commitment to enable lasting community ownership and operation of these water access and treatment systems.”
“We are particularly pleased that Coca-Cola, as the private sector’s leading champion and funder of WASH programs around the world, has publicly committed to supporting clean water programs meant to be as sustainable as their brand,” said Monica Ellis, CEO of Global Water Challenge, a lead developer of the Charter.
This endorsement has impacts beyond Coca-Cola’s investments in WASH and underscores the company’s broader commitment to sustainable growth across its businesses. “We can’t talk about climate change, green growth or a sustainable tomorrow without addressing water and sanitation issues today,” said Jae So, Manager of The World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program. ”With 2.5 billion people lacking adequate sanitation, the world is in the midst of a water and sanitation crisis. Global businesses recognize this absolute fact and are putting important actions in place today. We applaud Coca-Cola’s recognition and pursuit of the shared value of water and sanitation by endorsing this Charter.”
The endorsement marks a key milestone for the Charter, developed in 2011, and comes at a pivotal time for the sustainability of WASH services around the world. Through SustainableWASH.org (where the Charter is hosted), the principles of the Charter are being translated into action through self-assessment tools, a library, a discussion board, and other resources.
SustainableWASH.org provides a dynamic hub of the WASH sustainability conversation and hosts the WASH Sustainability Process; a three-step assessment process built on the foundation of the WASH Sustainability Charterand designed to improve WASH sustainability globally. In early 2012, representatives from a consortium of organizations (Aguaconsult, Global Water Challenge, IRC and WASH Advocates) came together to build on previous work around sustainability and create SustainableWASH.org. This website provides a platform to assess, learn, and share best practices related to WASH. By learning and sharing from each other, we can work together to support services that will last into the future. For additional information, please visit SustainableWASH.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The Coca-Cola Company:
The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world’s largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands. Led by Coca-Cola, the world’s most valuable brand, our Company’s portfolio features 15 billion-dollar brands including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle. Globally, we are the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, ready-to-drink coffees, and juices and juice drinks. Through the world’s largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy our beverages at a rate of 1.8 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our Company is focused on initiatives that reduce our environmental footprint, support active, healthy living, create a safe, inclusive work environment for our associates, and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. Together with our bottling partners, we rank among the world’s top 10 private employers with more than 700,000 system associates. For more information, visit www.coca-colacompany.com, follow us on Twitter attwitter.com/CocaColaCo or visit our blog, Coca-Cola Unbottled, at www.coca-colablog.com.
RSVP deadline extended!
Global Water Challenge and Sesame Workshop invite you to an hour-long webinar, “WASHing with Sesame Street,” to learn about an innovative opportunity to join a coalition of partners for a targeted WASH multimedia effort. The two organizations will be developing a global campaign to deliver key messages about WASH to millions of parents, children, and caregivers around the world.
Tuesday, December 11th (10AM – 11AM EST)
By Nicole Rosenleaf Ritter, Project WET Foundation
“Before Project WET, our students practiced hygiene behaviors this way,” the staff of the Santa Carlota School in Apopa, El Salvador explained. Students crowded around a plastic wash tub trying to wash their hands in a single, unchanging water source.
“Now they practice healthy habits in this manner.” Students enthusiastically lather up their hands with soap and fresh water at a small sink with a tap.
These two pictures offer a small-scale representation of a large-scale program. In 2010, the Project WET Foundation and UN-HABITAT launched a project in five countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) to promote what UN-HABITAT calls “human values-based water, sanitation and hygiene education” (HVWSHE). HVWSHE is designed to bring about significant change in the attitude and actions of people as it relates to water, sanitation and hygiene by instilling values such as respect for water resources and the health of communities.
Working in Bolivia, Peru, El Salvador, Colombia and Mexico, Project WET and UN-HABITAT held workshops in each country to adapt Project WET’s award-winning Africa WASH education materials for Latin America and the Caribbean, focusing on healthy habits, disease prevention, water source protection and water conservation. Initially, organizers had thought one Spanish-language version would suffice, but it was soon clear that there would need to be five different sets of materials, each with small but important differences to reflect both linguistic and cultural differences. Local partners and educators on the ground in each country helped shape the separate versions, which were also field tested before implementation.
Once the materials were completed, Project WET conducted a series of train-the-trainer workshops to kick off the implementation phase. Ultimately, some 5,000 educators and 100,000 students in Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, El Salvador and Mexico received copies of the Agua Saludable, Hábitos Saludables, Personas Saludables (Healthy Water, Healthy Habits, Healthy People) children’s activity booklet and educators guide. At the same time, Project WET developed and launched a Spanish-language educators’ portal as a resource center and professional network for educators living and working in LAC countries. All of the materials are freely available as digital downloads from the Project WET website or the Spanish-language portal.
One of the portal’s first purposes was as a grant application clearinghouse, allowing schools and organizations within the five countries to apply for small “demonstration project” grants to carry out infrastructure and water provision projects. The two projects—the one in Apopa and another in Patacamaya, Bolivia—were chosen based on cost, feasibility and capacity to fulfill the project objectives.
Grant funding constituted only a portion of each project’s budget to encourage local buy-in and sustainability.
The community of Apopa, just north of San Salvador, built a new water tank to allow both morning and afternoon sessions at the school to store water safely for drinking, washing and cooking. They also paved part of the school yard to improve hygiene conditions, created safe storage spaces for food and water in a renovated kitchen and restored drinking fountains to allow students ready access to safe drinking water.
In Patacamaya—a small city in the Bolivian Altiplano (high plateau) region—the grant was used as part of a larger program to improve sanitation facilities in the town’s schools, with a focus on the school’s youngest pupils, ages 4 to 6.
Overall, a recent evaluation workshop in Colombia revealed that the Project WET-UN-HABITAT LAC project has been a success. The customized materials are having a positive effect on the health and behaviors of children in the implementation area. All of the final workshop participants indicated that they have seen changes in student behaviors following implementation, including:
- washing hands more frequently
- conserving water
- improved knowledge about water sources
- better hygiene practices including cleaner bathrooms
- more emphasis placed on clean/adequate water sources in the school and cleaner drinking water options
- stronger values such as responsibility, compassion and care for the environment
The challenge going forward remains one of overall sustainability, given that resources are scarce for continuing or scaling up the program. In particular, funds are lacking for additional printed materials, which are vital in areas with low access to digital resources. Project WET and its local partners (listed below) are actively seeking additional funding.
To learn more about the project or to get involved, please contact Julia Nelson at the Project WET Foundation.
Project WET’s WASH education materials (free for download in English, Spanish, French, Kiswahili, with additional resources in Chichewa; available by request in Kannada)
Bolivia: Plan International
Colombia: Local Government Quibdó, UNICEF in Quibdó and ACF
Peru: UNDP and Gobierno Regional de Junín
Mexico: Joint Programme of MDG and the Secretary of Education of Veracruz
El Salvador: Ministries of Education of San Salvador and La Libertad and Local Governments
GETF Advisor John Englander has released a new book titled Hide Tide on Main Street: Rising Sea Level and the Coming Coastal Crisis.
Rising sea level is the most profound long-term aspect of climate change. Yet, the public is essentially completely unaware of the magnitude of the problem. For three million years sea level regularly moved up and down almost 400 feet with the ice age cycles. Now, after 6,000 years of minimal change, we are entering a new era of rapid sea level rise. In clear, easy-to-understand language, this book explains:
- The science behind sea level rise, plus the myths and partial truths used to confuse the issue.
- The surprising forces that will cause sea level to rise for 1,000 years, as well as the possibility of catastrophic rise this century.
- Why the devastating economic effects will not be limited to the coasts.
- Why coastal property values will go “underwater” long before the land does, perhaps as early as this decade.
- Five points of “intelligent adaptation” that can help individuals, businesses, and communities protect investments now and in the future.
Hide Tide on Main Street is available on Amazon in both paperback and ebook versions.
GWC member, Blue Planet Network is celebrating 1,000,000 lives improved by safe drinking water and sanitation across 1,600 communities in 27 countries. This is because of the remarkable efforts of their members and sustainable programs that are planned, managed and monitored on Blue Planet Network’s technology platform. This is 1,000,000 people who can now lead healthier lives and build stronger futures. This is the true value of working together. Thank you for helping to make this possible!
The Stone Family Foundation Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Water has been awarded to Dispensers for Safe Water in Kenya (DSW). The project provides free access to chlorine at communal water points. It has already reached approximately 424,000 people across over 800 villages. The prize will support DSW’s efforts to produce and deploy 3,000 new chlorine dispensers, enough to provide safe drinking water to over 600,000 people.
Over 170 projects from 37 different countries applied for the £100,000 prize, which is administered by NPC, the charity think tank and consultancy dedicated to maximizing impact. An expert panel selected a shortlist of projects, which were then visited by John Stone, Founder of the Stone Family Foundation, who chose Dispensers for Safe Water as the winner.
Unsafe drinking water is a leading cause of waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea and typhoid, which are responsible for 1.9 million child deaths each year. Treating drinking water with a dilute chlorine solution can help to cut child diarrhoea by an average of 41%, which has allowed DSW to avert over 61,000 diarrhoea episodes in young children since October 2009. The project has developed a low cost way to dispense chlorine at water points such as boreholes and wells—at scale, it is estimated it will cost just $0.50 per person to use the dispenser for an entire year.
Dispensers for Safe Water, an initiative being incubated within Innovations for Poverty Action, impressed the judges with an effective approach based on rigorous evidence, and provisions to ensure that the chlorine is easy to access and free to consumers at the point of delivery. The expert panel was also attracted to the project’s innovative plans for a sustainable funding model, which include accessing carbon credits. Carbon credits are generated because chlorination enables people to drink clean water without having to boil it, and burning of wood during boiling releases carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. DSW will establish a new, financially-sustainable social enterprise where carbon credits will be sold to entities for offsetting their carbon footprint. Revenue earned will be reinvested into maintaining and expanding the Chlorine Dispenser System program.
John Stone, Founder of the Stone Family Foundation, said:
‘This is the first time we have run the prize and it has been an eye-opening experience to see how many fantastic projects there are all over the world, developing ground breaking and sustainable approaches to enabling access to safe drinking water.
‘Dispensers for Safe Water really stood out to me for being unique in its approach to providing safe drinking water in an area of rural Africa where poor water quality is a major cause of potentially fatal illnesses such as diarrhoea and typhoid. I was impressed by the dynamic and enthusiastic team behind the project and am delighted that the money from this prize will enable them to take their work forward and scale it up.’
Eric Kouskalis, Kenya Program Director at Dispensers for Safe Water, said:
‘We are delighted to have been awarded the Stone Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Water. With this support from the Stone Family Foundation, we will be able to expand the Chlorine Dispenser System to hundreds of thousands of additional people in need of safe water.
‘Most importantly, the Stone Prize will allow us to continue demonstrating the tremendous potential for scale of this high-impact, cost-effective model for providing critical access to treated water.’
Four other organisations were highly commended by the Stone Family Foundation:
· Spring Health, Rural water kiosks, India; social enterprise marketing clean water which has been purified using low-cost electro-chlorination technology.
· Aquaya Institute, Water Business Kits, Kenya; project looking to develop a market in independent and self-sustaining small-scale businesses to purify and sell clean water.
· Next Drop, Information on piped water supply, India; helping to overcome the unpredictability of household water supply this service which texts users 30-60 minutes before water becomes available in their home.
· Population Services International (PSI), Sanosil Water Disinfectant, Myanmar: initiative has introduced Sanosil, a new tasteless and odourless water disinfectant, as a substitute for chlorine, which had proved unpopular with households in Myanmar.
The Foundation is now looking at how it can support these projects outside the prize framework, for example, through social investment.
On 15th October 2012, UN-Habitat joined RAIN’s project funded schools in Kenya to celebrate Global hand washing day. The schools had the opportunity through their health clubs to demonstrate the importance of hand washing with soap as an outreach event to their neighboring schools. In Kisumu, Ragumo Primary School was joined by three neighboring schools; Ogango Primary School, Kunya Primary School and Mbeme Primary School while Tido Primary School was joined by two neighboring schools; Nyalunya Primary School and Ofunyu Primary School to celebrate the Hand washing Day.
The highlights of the day were demonstrations from the health clubs on which five occasions should one wash their hands and the procedure of washing hands which ushered more than 2,000 students to wash their hands with soap at various hand washing points within the school. The key messages that crowned the day were: “wash your hands with soap: Before eating or handling food, after using the toilet, after handling rubbish, after changing nappy, before and after touching an injured person. Hand-washing with soap can significantly reduce the incidence of diarrhea.”
The Kisumu East Public Health Officer Mr. Nicholas Onako, thanked the head teachers of the schools who converged in Ragumo Primary School for allowing their students to participate in the event. In his message, he encouraged the students to make it a habit of washing hands with soap in order to keep away diseases that might lead to school absenteeism.
Thank you to UN-Habitat and Lake Victoria Water and Sanitation staff who contributed soap to enable the six UN-Habitat WASH Schools in Rarieda, Kisumu and Kisii celebrate this year’s Global Handwashing Day.
As part of the I’m a City Changer campaign, staff from UN-Habitat and the Lake Victoria Water and Sanitation initiative also contributed soap to enable the six UN-Habitat / Coca-Cola RAIN funded project Schools in Rarieda, Kisumu and Kisii celebrate this year’s Global Hand washing Day.