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Strengthening Water Partnerships across Lusophone Africa

The Portuguese Water Partnership (PWP) has continued to promote the international platform “Building Bridges and Partnerships across Portuguese-Speaking Countries” (P3LP, its Portuguese acronym).

The scope of this lusophone institutional and business platform covers five African Portuguese-speaking countries, including Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and São Tomé e Principe. The P3LP platform focuses on sharing experiences and knowledge on water issues between public and private entities. This sharing promotes partnerships between government agencies, water utilities and enterprises under the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Technical Visits to Portugal

meetingAn example of a core initiative undertaken since the project’s start in 2016 is technical visits to Portugal. Delegations of key decision makers and water sector managers from these five African countries are able to visit different locations in Portugal. Typically lasting one week, these initiatives have multiple opportunities to meet and interact directly with representatives from the Portuguese government, private sector and research institutions.  These interactions stimulate future institutional, commercial and technical partnerships.

So far, the feedback from the invited delegates from Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé e Príncipe, Cabo Verde and Angola have been overwhelmingly positive. Feedback has also been positive from the Portuguese participants in multiple initiatives such as public seminars, thematic workshops, business round tables, technical visits and institutional contacts.

Other Activities

Throughout the project, the multiple seminars and public sessions that have been organized have engaged several hundred participants. This engagement has broadly disseminated project outputs and the reinforced networking links within the Portuguese-speaking water sector professional community. Some of the specialized studies undertaken by the project include a detailed examination of European Development Fund opportunities in the African water sector (EuropeAid), and a detailed diagnosis of capacitation gaps and investment priorities in several water utilities operating in these countries.

According to Ms. Alexandra Serra, President of the Portuguese Water Partnership, “P3LP is an initiative that will equally strengthen the internationalization of the Portuguese water sector by developing mechanisms to facilitate the business matching between these countries and the Portuguese professional water community.” Following the latest technical mission to Portugal by a delegation from Angola in June 2017, the next steps on P3LP’s roadmap include the Lusophone Water Resource Symposium in Oporto in September 2017 and a similar visit by a Mozambican delegation in November 2017.

aquatabs directions

Aquatabs New Systems and Previous African Market Success

Aquatabs is the largest supplier of quality water purification tablets in the world. Through their partners, Aquatabs have treated 11 billion liters of water just in 2016. Aquatabs are manufactured by Medentech in Ireland and meet international standards. Aquatabs offers a wide range of solutions from the individual to the community level, facilitating household and community treatment in rural, per-urban, and urban contexts.

A large contribution to the pro-poor provision of “safe” water can be made through Point-of-Use treatment at the household level. Aquatabs, a simple and inexpensive tablet, rapidly dissolves when added to water to release a measured dose of chlorine. These tablets are safe and effective against many micro-organisms. They are also inexpensive, easy to use and transport, and have a 3-year shelf life. Tablet sizes range from treating 1 liter, to 20 liters, and to over 5000 liters. The 5000 liter tablets are used for bulk treatment in stationary tanks or water tankers.

Another complementary solution is Point-of-Collection (POC) disinfection. These POC technologies require minimal behavior change of end users because the water is treated at shared water points, such as hand-pumps, public taps, water tanker trucks, or kiosks. POC treatment can also support small business development, since in some contexts customers are willing and able to pay cost-recovering prices for reliable, “safe” water supply.

AquatabsFLO

How the AquatabsFLO system works

For example, Aquatabs Flo is a fully automated chlorine dosing device for shared water points. This system does not require reliable electricity or 24/7 supply to function because it is simply activated by water flow. Aquatabs Flo is installed in a holding tank and can purify up to 180,000 liters. The unit is pre-set to deliver 2 parts per million (ppm) of chlorine. On the other hand, Aquatabs InLine is positioned within the water line of a piped system. This inexpensive, easy to install and use system is also activated by water flow and does not require electricity. This solution is appropriate for larger systems, as it is able to disinfect up to 1 million liters with 1 to 2 ppm.

Highlighted Initiatives

Health Top Up Services, Ghana

Health Top Up Services (HTU) in Ghana started as a wholesale distributor of Aquatabs for USAID Precision dx. After the project’s completion, HTU is now the exclusive distributor in Ghana as of February 2016. HTU sold 4.1 million tabs in 2015 and 1.9 million tabs as of June 2016 through both commercial retail distribution and community based distribution encouraged by their own marketing strategy across multiple platforms. For more information on HTU.

USAID IMPACT, Benin

As a part of the USAID IMPACT project in Cotonou, Benin, the importance of household water purification using Aquatabs was discussed among self-help groups. These groups also discussed the importance of responding quickly to diarrhea with oral rehydration salts (ORS). The IMPACT project also makes it easier for these women to purchase Aquatabs and ORS, enabling them to protect their family and the community from diarrheal diseases. For more information on USAID IMPACT.

USAID POUZN, Benin

USAID’s POUZN project (Point-Of-Use Safe Water Disinfection and Zinc Treatment), implemented by PSI, also worked with Aquatabs. POUZN sought to reduce diarrhea morbidity and mortality in children by increasing access to and demand for Aquatabs in Benin. Of the households who reported currently treating their water in 2009, the majority (52%) used Aquatabs. This was surprising since Aquatabs were only introduced to the market in 2008 and few people had previously treated their water. Social norms about safe water practices were key determinants of use; individuals who had heard a message about Aquatabs were twice as likely to ever treat their water (20.8% vs. 9.9%). These messages included the importance and ease of treating water, and the usage of Aquatabs by other community members. Find out more!

spring catchment

Water Source Protection Improves Water Quality/Quantity in Kenya

Approximately 95 percent of residents in Silula Village, in western Kenya, obtain their drinking water from springs and rivers. Yet the majority of these sources are unprotected from pollution. Water typically flows from the spring eye to be collected meters away. This route exposes it to fecal contamination, domestic activities such as washing of clothes and utensils, and agricultural runoff.

In November 2016, community members took part in a USAID-supported initiative to promote conservation of key water sources in Siaya County by protecting and strengthening of Water Resources User Associations (WRUAs). WRUAs are voluntary membership associations made up of water users and riparian owners interested in proper management of their water resources.

Enthusiastic community members contributed fencing posts, bricks and hardcore to secure the spring intake and unskilled labor to clear and improve the access path to the spring. The benefits of protecting and conserving the spring were experienced immediately. The bacteriological quality was improved by the physical barriers of the spring catchment, which target water directly to the spring eye. The physical quality, including turbidity, is also controlled in the same way because no sediments can escape the outlet pipe. The flow rate was increased due to a build-up in water pressure behind the spring catchment wall.

spring

Naima and her young daughter get drinking water from the protected spring in Silula Village, Siaya
Source: Eric Onyiego/KIWASH

“Long queues at the spring are unheard of now. My 20 liter jerry cans fill up within just two minutes!  Moreover, my family of four now uses five jerry cans per day up from the two we used to queue for so long to fill up,”  Naima Mohammed, 23, says. Much has changed since her original trips of over 90 minutes every other day to collect water even though the spring was only 300 meters from her home.

These changes improved the quality and quantity of water available to over 700 community members. The protection of the Silula Spring also encouraged community members to register as voluntary members of the WRUA. As a part of this membership they made commitments to carry out a wide range of activities contributing towards better watershed management. For example, avoiding activities on demarcated riparian areas, carrying out soil and water conservation activities, planting trees, and controlling water pollution.

KIWASH Project

The 2015-2020 USAID Kenya Integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (KIWASH) Project works with local communities, county water offices and decision-makers. The project aims to improve community representation in WRUAs within sub-catchments to increase sensitization on integrated watershed conservation and water resources management. The project also aims to build the capacity of county governments and institutions to expand source water protection and improve water access. 

Cameroonian Water Distribution Digitization

Digitizing networks is an important, often laborious and sometimes painful step. It is essential to have a tool for the proper management of assets and for the operation of the drinking water supply system. It is a prerequisite for good network management by:

  • Maintenance of documentation;
  • Rapid visualization of the network and its environment;
  • Analysis and printing of the thematic maps, types of pipelines, completed work (history) and projected work;
  • Route surveying, subscriber monitoring, extension work; and
  • Provision of data to third parties, such as design offices, companies, services and work coordination.

Camerounaise Des Eaux (CDE) recently digitized their drinking water networks in Douala and Yaoundé, the two major cities of Cameroon. These networks are a combined length of nearly 3,200 km. This network was inventoried, verified and digitized over a period of 10 months. Approximately 300 km were processed per month!

A local CDE team reported the network with a user-friendly, powerful and customizable software. The software allows fast digitization of the networks coupled with the creation of a database, which provides information on the condition of network assets and equipment.

Software

This software, developed by NOVEC in the AutoCAD environment, operates as a personalized menu with the ability to directly access a predefined library of drinking water supply system components, enabling rapid execution and ease of use for non-specialized operators.

It also can draw up synoptic diagrams of the drinking water supply system, provide details at nodes, and prepare various inventory statements of assets.

sensitization campaign material

Senegal’s Program for Restructuring the Fecal Sludge Market

Realizing the need to address poor sanitation access and improve the entire fecal sludge management (FSM) value chain in Dakar, the National Sanitation Office of Senegal (ONAS) partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create the Program for the Structuring of the Fecal Sludge Market (PSFSM). This program has two primary aims: provide high-quality, inexpensive mechanical emptying services to consumers while also increasing the incomes of professional emptiers.

Like many major African metropolises, Senegal’s capital city of Dakar faces enormous sanitation challenges. These challenges are largely concentrated in the low-income suburban areas of Pikine and Guédiawaye. Of the almost 1.5 million people living in these areas, about 96 percent use on-site sanitation, consisting of pit latrines at individual households. Because of the shallow water table, pits must be frequently emptied—usually twice a year. However, residents are often unable to access emptying trucks when they need them. Additionally due to weak competition, the cost of emptying is beyond the reach of the majority of the population, who live on less than $2 per day. Therefore, about 44 percent of households resort to manual emptying, which negatively impacts public health and the environment.

fecal sludge emptying steps

The steps that customers must take to have their latrine or septic tank emptied through ONAS.

Program Innovations

A key aspect of PSFSM is the call center, which serves as a direct link between customers and emptiers. When the customer calls the center and requests emptying at a particular place, date and time, emptiers then submit quotes via SMS. Once the bidding process is over, the lowest bidder and the customer are notified and the service is confirmed. This cutting-edge program allows for easy access to pit emptying and low prices for customers, increased opportunity for emptiers to expand their business, and quality control and monitoring conducted by the call center.

A guarantee fund promotes the development of the fecal sludge emptying industry by enabling companies to improve their equipment and obtain proper licenses and certifications. PSFSM also helps customers save and pay for emptying services by making mobile money services more readily available.

Handing over responsibility of fecal sludge treatment plants (FSTPs) to the private sector has also been essential to PSFSM success. Previously when plants were managed by the government, they were in a state of advanced deterioration, and were not profitable or efficient. With this unique public-private partnership, facilities have been renovated, maintenance and operations improved, administrative organization increased, marketing of dried sludge byproducts advanced, and profitability increased.

Sharing Best Practices

In just three and half years of operation, PSFSM has seen significant success in the areas of efficiency, profitability and stakeholder satisfaction. Want to learn more about the lessons learned from PSFSM? Click here to see their lessons learned report.

ONAS is also a mentor in the RASOP Program because of their development of industry best practices. RASOP, implemented by the African Water Association, focuses on reinforcing the capacities of African sanitation operators on non-sewer sanitation and fecal sludge management through peer-to-peer learning partnerships.

Originally written by Fara Ndiaye on Speak Up Africa
launch photo

Scaling Up Access to Finance and Capacity Development in the Ghanaian WASH Sector

Catalyzing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH): From Possible to Profitable (P2P) seeks to improve access to finance and technical assistance for WASH investments and services.  A €4 million revolving fund is now accessible by households or house owners and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

This five-year (2015-2019), nation-wide project is anticipated to reach households, MSMEs and MFIs in rural, peri-urban, and urban areas in all ten regions of Ghana. P2P is expected to reach 2,600 households with loans to access WASH services in urban areas. Loans will also be received by 200 micro-businesses, 350 small businesses, 300 medium businesses, and at least 7 large businesses. Agatha Quayson, the P2P project manager, said that 3.6 million Ghana Cedis have already been disbursed to 250 households and 88 enterprises, as of November 2016. These funds are used to finance projects in hygiene services, liquid and solid waste management, water provision, and household latrine construction.

Limited Access to Financing

This project was initiated because of the increasing difficulty private sector entities face within Ghana’s WASH sector to access finance from traditional financial institutions. Limited access to financing has resulted in weak links across the water and sanitation service and value chains. A 2014 study showed that there was a high need for finance by WASH MSMEs. However, only 53 percent of Ghanaian MSMEs surveyed were willing to source loans through existing commercial banks and microfinance institutions. This unwillingness was due to high interest rates and robust collateral requirements.

Private Sector Approach

P2P uses a private sector development approach to maximize value for money in the WASH sector. Financing for households and MSMEs will be provided through a revolving fund housed at Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited. To strengthen Fidelity Bank Limited’s ability to appraise WASH businesses for credit, a training was held with 94 Relationship Managers and Credit Officers. Fidelity Bank serves as a custodian and fund manager. The bank on-lends to WASH MSMEs and MFIs at an attractive interest rate. These MFIs are a conduit to reach households with loans, and also serve as the financial intermediary between households and Fidelity Bank.

This initiative will also provide technical assistance, enabling MSMEs to establish the technical structures required to obtain loans from financial institutions and adequately respond to the growing demand for WASH services among households. This technical assistance will be delivered through the P2P Business Academy. The curriculum will include general and WASH specific expert knowledge. Topics include financial management, human resources, marketing, strategic management, and environmental management. An on-demand knowledge sharing and skills building platform will also be available. After graduating from the P2P Academy, beneficiaries will be assigned a mentor to guide the practice of this acquired knowledge for six months.

P2P is funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is jointly implemented by the SNV Netherlands Development Organization, and Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited.

vermifilter

Worms Treat Wastewater from Textiles

In the northwest Indian village of Ajrakhpur, 37-year-old Sufiyan ­Khatri stirs several stinky vats: one of bubbling indigo, another simmering pomegranate skins and a third containing a black, gummy brew of rusty bicycle parts fermenting with sugar cane. The mixtures are used to dye textiles with a traditional block-print method called ajrakh. He is one of more than 50 artisans in the village producing the textiles as a main source of income.

textiles

Sufiyan Khatri learned to make the textile dyes from his grandfather, but he likes to experiment with color and design.

And he’s been pleased to have welcomed some new assistants: earthworms. Their job is to deal with toxic materials in the dyes that are not only bad for the environment but also make it impossible to reuse the wastewater for the next round of dyeing. Thousands of the wiggly creatures live inside a water filter — called a “vermifilter.” That’s the term for a treatment system that cleans dye-tainted water. It was installed last May with support from the nongovernmental organization KHAMIR — Kutch Heritage, Art, Music, Information and Resources. The group connects the artisans of the Kutch district with outside resources and markets.

The filter is a few feet from Khatri’s studio. It is constructed out of dozens of bright blue plastic crates packed with organic materials including cotton roots, dirt and all of those earthworms. Sprinklers spray murky blue water from attached tanks into the crates. The water trickles through the dirt. Worms then feed on toxic dyes in the wastewater and excrete “wormcasts” that are not toxic. The water is filtered through the worm poop, the cotton roots and other materials and comes out a pale yellow — and clean enough to reuse in the textile process.

The ability to reuse water is critical for the village, which consumes over 52,000 gallons of water every day to maintain an annual output of over almost 460,000 square feet of hand-printed cloth. Each piece is washed at least three times in community water tanks. And the artisans say they create colors by “playing with water” — adding varying amounts of ingredients like pomegranate skins and then bringing the mixture to a boil.

Hundreds of years ago, Ajrakh artisans had plenty of water to play with. But groundwater in northwest India is increasingly depleted  due to overuse, Ajrakhpur’s artisans are concerned about the future of their craft. “If we don’t get water,” Khatri says, “We stop our work.”

dyeing cloth

Wasseem Abbas dips cloth printed with mud in fermented indigo. After it dries, the cloth will be washed several times and if the water used has a high iron content, dark spots will appear on the fabric.

Signs that something is amiss are already visible on Khatri’s textiles. As water levels decrease, minerals in it like iron become more concentrated, which can leave dark spots on prints after the artisans wash them. And there are more serious problems: the release of dyes into the environment is a main source of water pollution. Khatri prides himself on using natural dyes, but many artisans use water tainted by synthetic dyes — and dispose of it in open drains.

Khatri says artisans appreciate that the worms have already cut their water costs. But the output of the filter — about 13,500 gallons per day— is far from what they need to meet a growing demand for their textiles. The Indian government has approved a grant funded by India’s Ministry of Textiles to build a vermifilter in Ajrakhpur three times the size of the current one. It will be completed in the next two years.

Vermifiltration technology was first made available in Chile in the 1990s. The largest systems are in South America, where they are predominantly used for treating industrial wastewater, according to Kevin Jeffery, managing director of Wastewater Wizard Limited. He calls vermifiltration “a revolutionary approach to wastewater treatment.”

However, there are limitations, says professor Ralf Otterpohl, director of the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection at Hamburg University of Technology. One of the biggest challenges is that the worms need warm soil temperatures to thrive. Plus, he adds, this type of technology is most suitable for small-scale production.

That still leaves plenty of opportunity for Transchem Agritech, the enterprising Indian company that installed the vermifilter in Ajrakhpur. The company has vermifilters across India’s dairy, sugar and chemical industries. The one in Ajrakhpur is the first in the handicraft industry, so developing the right environment for the worms — with the right mix of materials so they could help minimize the dyes in the water — required some tinkering.

As Khatri says: “We have to be creative to continue.”

Originally published on May 20, 2017 by NPR (National Public Radio) 
Originally written by Shaina Shealy, find her on Twitter @shainashealy

Project management: The staff of the African Water Association Is Initiated to MS Project.

From January 16 to 21, 2017, the staff of the African Water Association took part in a training workshop on project management. A 5-day training course that was more practical than theoretical. It focused on the use of a piece of Microsoft Suite software exclusively dedicated to planning, monitoring and evaluating projects, namely MS Project. This training workshop, which is in its second edition, is part of the series of capacity building sessions initiated by the AfriCap program, a USAID-funded program with a component focusing on “building the capacities of AfWA to enable it to formulate, coordinate, adapt and harmonize WASH policies in West Africa“.

From principles of basic use to essential tools and functionalities, participants in this training, including the Executive Director of AfWA, became cognizant with the environment of this piece of software, thanks to hands-on exercises. Once the initiation stage was completed, the other modules included task planning, resource planning, and cost planning from the MS Project software, based on a case study. The last stage of the training focused on the monitoring / evaluation of a project in order to identify the critical paths and above all the levels of achievement compared to the planning duly established at the beginning of the project.

This training responds to an urgent need, especially since the African Water Association is conducting large-scale projects and programs which are often audited by their donors. The use of this piece of software in business planning and monitoring and evaluation would ensure a computerized and better structured management of these projects. Such an approach contributes to improving the credibility of AfWA with its technical and financial partners in search of reliable organizations for the coordination and implementation of their activities. The training was provided by the Cabinet CICF of Mali through USAID West Africa, the main technical partner of the African Water Association in the implementation of the AfriCap program.

19th Congress of the African Water Association: On the Way to Bamako 2018

The Malian Minister of Energy and Water, Malick ALHOUSSEINI, officially launched the 19th International Congress and Exhibition of the African Water Association this Thursday, January 26, 2017 in Bamako. Scheduled to take place from February 11 to 16, 2018 at the International Conference Center in Bamako, the theme of this 19th AfWA Congress is “Accelerating access to sanitation and water services amidst climate change challenges.” This is a continental event organized jointly by the African Water Association, the Malian Drinking Water Utility (SOMAGEP) and the Malian Drinking Water Assets Company (SOMAPEP).

 

Nearly 2,000 participants are expected to attend this event, which will be held for the first time in Mali. This official launching ceremony brought together about 200 participants, including professionals from the water and sanitation sector, technical and financial partners, members of the academic community and the civil society. The Malian Minister of Environment, Sanitation and Sustainable Development, along with the Governor of the Bamako district, attended the ceremony.

 

Opening the series of speeches, the chairman of the Organizing Committee of the 2018 AfWA Bamako Congress, Boubacar KANE, who is also the CEO of SOMAGEP, wished all delegations coming from abroad, namely from Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Benin and Niger, a warm welcome before adding that this launching ceremony marks the beginning of the action plan of the local committee responsible for organizing this important event.

 

Sylvain UHSER, AfWA’s Executive Director, outlined the background of the African Water Association and the programs it is implementing for member utilities. These programs aim to build their capacities and contribute to improving their performance to provide better water and sanitation services to the populations.

 

Officially launching the 2018 AfWA Bamako Congress, the Minister of Water and Energy invited all his departments to include the organization of this congress into their activities plans. “The challenge of the access to safe drinking water and sanitation services is a concern to all of us,” he said, especially since at least 3 million Africans do not have access to drinking water and sanitation services. At the request of the Local Organizing Committee to have the President of the Republic of Mali, HE Mr. Ibrahim Boubacar KEITA, preside over this Congress of AfWA in 2018, the Minister of Energy and Water gave the assurance that he would do his utmost to ensure that this request is met.

Lilongwe STC: Professionals of the Water and Sanitation Sector Meet in Malawi

The African Water Association (AfWA) held the 75th meeting of its Scientific and Technical Council (STC) from November 21 to 25, 2016. 120 delegates from 19 countries gathered in Lilongwe, the capital City of Malawi, for a 5-day event that provided an overview of the water and sanitation situation in Malawi and in Africa.

The STC’s session on “Climate Change and Sustainable Access to Drinking Water in Africa” was opened by Malawi’s Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Resources Development, Dr. George CHAPONDA, who also visited the mini-exhibition of this event.

 

Following the opening day of the Open-Door Day, the meeting continued with the committees’ sessions and a session of the AfWA Program Committee. In addition, a workshop on Technological Innovations in the Water Industry was conducted by the English company ISLE.

 

The committees concluded their sessions on Thursday, November 24, 2016, with the reports on their work, in the presence of Mr. Alfonso CHIKUNI, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of Lilongwe Water Board.

 

The STC closed the curtain on its meeting on Friday, November 25, 2016 with a field visit to the host utility’s drinking water production facilities, followed by a recreational and tourist visit to Lake Malawi, the main source of raw water extraction of the country for drinking water supply and agriculture. The next meeting of the STC is scheduled to be held from February 13 to 17, 2017 in Morocco.