UPGro: Hidden Crisis - the story so far...by Helen Bonsor
Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor (UPGro) is an international research programme that focuses on improving the evidence base around groundwater availability and management in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The Hidden Crisis project is a consortium project within the UPGro programme and aims to develop a robust evidence base of the large-scale status of rural groundwater supply functionality across three countries, Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda, which have struggled for decades with service sustainability.
Helen Bonsor tells us more about the project and provides an update on progress so far after the latest project meeting in Edinburgh.
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:
Review Survey 1 - key challenges and successes – and to review the initial analysis of the data and plan for more detailed final analysis
Planning of Survey 2 - location and site selection criteria, the research approach and aims, methods and logistics
Planning of the Longitudinal studies in the 3 countries for both physical and social science surveys
Interdisciplinary research - to review and discuss our approaches to interdisciplinary science in the Hidden Crisis project and lessons learned from other UPGro Projects
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.
Hard at work at the 2nd Hidden Crisis project meeting
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.
Project discussions and group working at the project meeting.
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.
For more information please visit the UPGro: Hidden Crisis website or follow us @UPGroResearch