Monitoring Sustainability of Rural Water Supplies in Sub-Saharan Africa

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    Sekela Twisa

    Project Overview

    In response to the global challenges of water scarcity and food and energy insecurity that have been recognized by the United Nations, UNU-FLORES signed three cooperation agreements with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, United Republic of Tanzania, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigatation and Water Development, Government of Malawi and The Government of the National State of Tigray, Water Resources Bureau, Ethiopia. The agreements formalized the establishment of Africa Points of Excellence (APE) research consortium with the objective of advancing data generation, collection and policy-relevant research with potential to support the development of regional data repositories for drought risk monitoring in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    This Ph.D. research project which is being undertaken by Ms. Sekela Twisa is supported by one of the APE consortium partners- the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, United Republic of Tanzania. The project seeks to address the challenge of drought risk monitoring in Sub-Saharan Africa by examining the potential of using water points as a source of data for monitoring sustainability of rural water sources in Sub-Saharan Africa. The overall objectives of the project are as follows:

    1. To assess the factors that affect sustainability of waters sources for rural water supply

    2. To assess factors that has an impact on infrastructure for rural water supply services

    3. To identify institutional factors in explaining rural water point’s functionality in rural Tanzania

    Project Description

    Large areas of Sub-Saharan African countries are water scarce and do not enjoy adequate supplies of water resource all year round. More- over, water resources vary spatially in their distribution. In combination with varying population density, this results in wide differences in water availability and poses challenges for water supplies. According to WHO, 2012 globally the Millennium Development Goals target concerning access to safe drinking water has been met, but progress has been uneven in different areas. For instance, 89% of the world’s population have access to improved water supplies but only 63% of those with improved access live in Sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, 83% of the world’s population without access to better quality water supplies live in rural areas.

    The achievement of long lasting and sustainable effects from development projects is a major challenge for donors and agencies in developing countries. In recent years the water sector has experienced decentralization of responsibilities. Political autonomy has been emphasized by transferring decision decision-making authority to local administrative units. The links between decentralization and poor planning are at best uncertain and results vary between countries. There are different opinions as to why the water supply systems are not sustainable. Providing safe drinking water in rural areas is a major challenge because it is not easy to establish institutional arrangements that will ensure the facilities are provided, maintained, and managed in an efficient, equitable and sustainable way. This research project explores potential to combine use of GIS and in-situ data collection strategies to facilitate evidence based decision making for drought management with a particular focus on Sub-Saharan Africa.

    Based on the results emerging from the project a regional research call is being designed to guide development of capacity for construction of drought vulnerability indices as a tool for drought risk monitoring in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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