Sustaining groundwater safety in peri-urban areas

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: School of Geography

Abstract

A recent study of sanitation and water provision for people living in developing countries found that over two billion people live in places where pit latrines are prevalent and use groundwater as their main source of drinking water. Why is this important? Pit latrines dispose of faeces into the ground, where the diffusion of pathogens and chemicals out of the pit can contaminate the water that is used for drinking. Under these conditions disease can spread quickly and death in childhood can be common. Many cities in sub-Saharan Africa are growing rapidly and piped water and sewerage systems struggle to keep pace with this growth. Consequently, in poorer neighbourhoods, many households are forced to improvise to meet their sanitation and water supply needs: they rely on a mix of pit latrines and shallow wells, potentially exposing them to contaminated groundwater.

This pilot project aims to assess how far the poor in Kisumu, Kenya, are exposed to unsafe groundwater, both now and in the future. Kisumu is the third largest city in Kenya and its population is increasing rapidly. Most of the population growth is in the peri-urban slum districts around the outskirts of the city. In common with other slum areas pit latrines are the dominant form of sanitation and hand-dug wells are a vital source of water. Recently, the Government of Kenya published a development planning framework called Kenya Vision 2030. Some of the key development objectives within the Vision document are: installation of physical and social infrastructure in slums; rehabilitation and expansion of urban water and sanitation facilities; and solid waste management. We are using the Vision document as the point of reference for this project. It will provide the timeframe for predicting the outcomes of the different development strategies that are being promoted by Vision 2030.

The initial project phase will involve networking activities, limited groundwater quality testing, and an initial feasibility study looking into different future population and land use scenarios and their impact on groundwater quality. Water quality data will be combined with socio-economic information and used to assess how far the poor are differentially exposed to contaminated groundwater, relative to the rich. The findings will help in designing a subsequent follow-on project to assess likely future changes in urban groundwater quality. This project will also evaluate different strategies for managing urban groundwaters into the future for the benefit of the poor peri-urban communities who depend largely on groundwater resources.

The challenge of providing safe water and hygienic sanitation to the most vulnerable people living in the slum districts is substantial. Prioritising the most effective interventions is vital if significant and sustainable gains to the health and wellbeing of people in these communities are to be achieved. This project will look at the implications of different future scenarios for a range of development options. It will provide a valuable aid to key agencies in the water and sanitation sector as they work to improve the lives of slum dwellers worldwide.

Planned Impact

The ultimate beneficiaries of this project are residents of urban sub-Saharan Africa who rely on groundwater for domestic water. Although figures are difficult to obtain for sub-Saharan Africa, globally 439 million urban residents relied on boreholes, dug wells or springs for domestic water in 2010, up from 264 million in 1990 (UNICEF/WHO, 2012). In Kisumu municipality itself, an estimated population of 105,000 obtain domestic water from groundwater according to 2009 census open data. This group could ultimately benefit from reduced exposure to unsafe water and the associated health and economic benefits that accrue from this (3-6 years after project start), via the intermediate pathways outlined below.

More immediate users of the research are policy-makers and water sector planners in Kenya, students at Bondo University College, and those involved in international monitoring of access to safe water. In particular, the Agence Francaise de Developpement is investing £11.8 million in water and sanitation in Kisumu via its Long Term Action Plan, whilst local NGOs such as Sustainable Aid in Africa (SANA) and the Undugu Society are also involved in service provision in Kisumu (Maoulidi, 2010). Other stakeholders include the Kisumu municipality, the privatised water utility KIWASCO, and key ministries such as the Ministry of Local Government, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, and Ministry of Roads, Public Works and Housing. The Ministry of Housing are particularly involved in rehabilitating and expanding urban water and sanitation provision via Kenya Vision 2030.

The developmental impact of the proposed project is anticipated to take place via the following routes in Kenya:
1. Via a follow-up larger scale research project (3 years after project start), which will examine current and projected exposure of the poor to contaminated groundwater in Kisumu and another sub-Saharan African urban centre. This follow-on project will examine immediate, medium and long-tem strategies for mitigating against exposure of the poor to unsafe groundwater. Examples of such strategies could include promotion of home water treatment, targeted sanitation or piped water provision, and wellhead disinfection and treatment units. This follow-on project could be used to inform the Kenya Vision 2030 strategic planning framework.
2. Even without further research, this pilot project itself should generate useful baseline data for urban planning in Kisumu (from end of project), for example in understanding current patterns of groundwater contamination across the city, and inequality of access between different socio-economic groups.
3. The project will provide a forum (month 11) at which likely future growth and land use change across Kisumu will be discussed in relation to water and sanitation service provision. This meeting focussed on strategic WASH planning could in itself deliver benefits in urban planning, in providing structured discussion of future urban growth scenarios.
4. Via capacity-building in Kenya in water quality testing and urban planning (from month 3)

Internationally, the work would form a case study for other rapidly expanding urban areas in sub-Saharan Africa. Following the end of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, there has been discussion of the adoption of international monitoring indicators that incorporate not only safe water coverage, but also socio-economic equality in access (Yang et al, 2013). By assessing how exposure to contaminated groundwater varies between richer and poorer households across Kisumu, this study will contribute to this current debate concerning international monitoring arrangements (from end of project).

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have discovered that contamination risks to groundwater used for domestic purposes in our urban Kenyan study sites have increased over a 10 year period. We have also discovered that poorer well owners and groundwater consumers are exposed to greater risks. Most groundwater consumers are aware of the risks and avoid drinking or cooking with untreated groundwater.
Exploitation Route We also see our findings being used by government and non-governmental organisations in planning groundwater source protection (e.g. well upgrading) in slum areas. We also envisage that our findings could be used to plan public health education campaigns, targeting those consumers who continue to drink untreated groundwater. We may be able to contribute to a handbook on urban groundwater management in low and middle income countries.
Sectors Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Other

URL http://blog.soton.ac.uk/groundwater2030/
 
Description Global Challenges Research Fund Foundation Award
Amount £603,320 (GBP)
Funding ID MR/P024920/1 
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 03/2019
 
Title Data set: Groundwater microbiology and chemistry of shallow wells, boreholes and springs in Kisumu, Kenya in 2014 
Description Pedley, S.,Okotto-Okotto, J.,Okotto, L.,Price, H.,Wright, J. (2014). Groundwater microbiology and chemistry of shallow wells, boreholes and springs in Kisumu, Kenya in 2014. NERC Environmental Information Data Centre. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact None as yet. 
URL http://doi.org/10.5285/4062e6d9-2e90-4775-87f1-179dea283ef1
 
Title Data set: Socio-economic survey of domestic groundwater handling and use for source customers in Kisumu, Kenya in 2014 
Description Okotto, L.G.,Okotto-Okotto, J.,Price, H.,Pedley, S.,Wright, J. (2014). Socio-economic survey of domestic groundwater handling and use for source customers in Kisumu, Kenya in 2014. NERC Environmental Information Data Centre. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact None as yet. 
URL http://doi.org/10.5285/6f3f1d06-4e6b-435e-a770-af7549993b88
 
Title Dataset: Sanitary risk inspections of shallow wells, boreholes and springs in Kisumu, Kenya in 2014 
Description Sanitary risk inspections of shallow wells, boreholes and springs in Kisumu, Kenya in 2014 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact None as yet. 
 
Title Dataset: Socio-economic survey of domestic groundwater handling and use for source owners in Kisumu, Kenya in 2014. 
Description Okotto, L.,Okotto-Okotto, J.,Price, H.,Pedley, S.,Wright, J. (2014). Socio-economic survey of domestic groundwater handling and use for source owners in Kisumu, Kenya in 2014. NERC Environmental Information Data Centre. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact None as yet. 
URL http://doi.org/10.5285/4ca855a3-752c-4492-8e26-3438652dd35c
 
Description Article in NERC Planet Earth Online 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Generated some online debate about the slow pace of development in sub-Saharan Africa
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
URL http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/features/story.aspx?id=1773
 
Description Groundwater2030: initial and end-of-project stakeholder workshops, Kisumu, Kenya 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Around 60 stakeholders drawn from local NGOs, government, community groups, and academia within Nyanza Province Kenya attended two workshops. One outlined the plans for the project; the second fed back on project findings and discussed directions for a follow-on project. This was followed by questions and discussions afterwards, particularly around protection of hand-dug wells.

These meetings enabled us to build concerns raised by participants into a follow-on grant application.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
URL http://blog.soton.ac.uk/groundwater2030/workshops/
 
Description Main project web site 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Groundwater2030 web site, disseminating project findings and raising awareness about the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016
URL http://blog.soton.ac.uk/groundwater2030/
 
Description Poster and brief presentation - hydrogeology and WASH conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Okotto-Okotto J, Okotto L, Price H, Pedley S, and Wright J. Long-term changes in urban groundwater quality in Kisumu, Kenya (poster & brief presentation). Hydrogeology and WASH - What can hydrogeologists contribute to safe water supply and poverty reduction, Geological Society, London, UK, 5th June 2014. Findings were discussed at poster and immediately after talk.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Poster and short presentation at 'Hydrogeology & WASH: What Can Hydrogeologists Contribute to Safe Water Supply and Poverty Reduction?' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A brief platform summary was presented of a poster outlining preliminary project results, which was followed up with more in-depth one-to-one discussion with practitioners in a poster session afterwards.

The poster stimulated discussion among delegates about the extent to which shallow well protection was a priority.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/expired/Hydrogeology-and-WASH
 
Description Stirling web site 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Web report at University of Stirling, disseminating findings of project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
URL http://sti-cs.org/2015/07/16/fancy-a-swig-water-quality-in-shallow-wells-in-kisumu-western-kenya/
 
Description Webinar to the Rural Water Supply Network 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented a webinar to the Rural Water Supply Network on findings of a long-term follow-up study of groundwater quality in Kisumu, Western Kenya. Faciliated discussion about processes of urban change and how these affect the sustainability and safety of groundwater; and also broader approaches to monitoring of safe awter access.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL https://vimeo.com/112900426