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International Water and Communities Initiative: Notes from the Field

Sustainability of Supply: The Story of Community Water Associations (HIPPAMs) in Malang by Meena Palaniappan, December 2011

sustainability_of_supply.jpgImagine if the water you were being supplied with regularly to your home suddenly began drying up? For hundreds of households dependent on community-run drinking water user associations (Indonesian, HIPPAM) in Malang, this is a new reality. As more and more water users directly access the resource, water availability is shifting, and the lack of a comprehensive water management strategy for the region has left many communities high and dry.

HIPPAMs are common throughout Malang, and supply about 20 percent of households in the city. These HIPPAMs began in response to the lack of municipally supplied water by the city’s water utility, PDAM Kota Malang. The water utility was not supplying water to these communities either because it was an outlying or difficult to reach area, or because the cost of water from PDAM Kota Malang was perceived to be too high.


Multiple Uses of Water by Meena Palaniappan, December 2011

malang_multiple_uses.jpgThe Amprong River in the city of Malang in Indonesia provides a truly rich example of the power and the challenges of multiple use water systems. From the beginning of human civilization, rivers and water bodies were always used to fulfill human needs to drink, to grow food, and to take away waste. As cities grew, the rivers that were once fulfilling all of these needs were becoming running sewers, and communities downstream of cities were suffering the impacts of agricultural runoff, reduced water availability, and poor water quality. The question has always been: how can we ensure that water can continue to fulfill the multiple needs it serves in society for livelihoods and for water and sanitation; while also ensuring it is available for downstream users, its quality is maintained, and that the needs of the environment and future generations are considered?


Waterways by Meena Palaniappan, December 2011

Indonesia is a beautiful place full of people with ready smiles. It is a democratic country with a rich cultural history. Given it is identified as one of the rising Southeast Asian economies, I was excited to see the state of water here. While our Indonesia WATER SMS Project is working on water services, a long time passion of mine has been urban waterways. I’ve always looked at urban waterways as the soul of a city. They are the reasons that human settlements emerged, and can be such a focal point of an urban area. What stories would waterways in Indonesian cities tell?

Multiple use of Water Allows Disabled Man to Live Comfortably, by Dr. John Akudago, December 2011

multiple_use_disabled_man.jpgAbdulai Ibrahim lost his leg during an accident several years ago. Like many disabled persons in Ghana, Mr. Ibrahim could have been forced to beg on the street or depend on his extended family members for support. Instead, he opted to fend for himself through an innovative multiple use of water system.

Sanitation Task Force Should be Introduced in Burkina Faso Says Womens Group by Dr. John Akudago, December 2011

sanitation_task_forceEveryone knows that when you cross red traffic light, a ticket is given and the court can deal with you if you fail to pay the fine in developed world. This system of checks and balances makes it difficult for one careless driver to endanger others. It is not the same in water and sanitation sector especially in developing countries where one person’s mistake or negligence can negatively affect several people. Crossing when the traffic light turns red means you are endangering the lives of other road users. Similarly, failing to protect or keep water sources and sanitation facilities clean could equally result in several diseases and deaths.


How Can We Promote Sustainable WASH Facilities at the Community Level? Naba Kuliga in Burkina Faso Joins the Discussion by Dr. John Akudago, November 2011

sa_majesty_naba_kuliga2.jpgI took a recent trip to Burkina Faso to conduct a learning session on the WASH decision-making tool ( currently being developed by Pacific Institute.  I arrived in the town of Sabtenga, a rural community located in the Northern part of Burkina Faso about 50 kilometers north of Ouagadougou.

As part of the traditional custom, visitors intending to hold meetings within the community must first report to the Chief.  I arrived at his house about 300m north of the village market to find the 66 year old community chief, Sa Majesty Naba Kuliga, seated in front of his house.  After welcoming us and listening to our mission, he smiled and gave blessing for the meeting.

The “We are Coming Syndrome” Calls for Community-Decision-Making Tool

by Dr. John Akudago, November 2011

learning_session_at_bluenga_blog_photo2.jpgIn Ghana, there is a saying that goes like this: “the world changing does not mean the sky will be on the ground but only that people will shift away from doing things the way they used to do them.” This saying came to light when I recently visited Bulenga in the Wa East District of Upper West Region of Ghana for a community learning session. 

About 17 men and 13 women attended the learning session. During the process of learning, the community was asked if it was necessary for NGOs and development partners to ask them of their needs and priorities before coming out with solutions to their problems. The people present all said yes and supported their decision with the argument that...

DIY: Do-It-Yourself as a Way of Life
 by Misha Hutchings, September 2011

DIY is one of those terms that at once so familiar to me and seems universally used and understood, but in reality has little or no meaning in other contexts.

do_it_yourself_clean_water.jpgAlthough the term DIY (do-it-yourself) emerged in the 1950s, in the past 10 years it has come into widespread use in the US to describe the “can-do” attitude to complete a job without the aid of experts or professionals (who are usually widely available) or not purchase a ready-made product to instead to do or make it yourself. DIY projects range from hand crafts such as knitting and jewelry-making, to gourmet cooking, and home and car repairs. In one sense, it is a hobby. After all, you could probably choose to have someone else with knowledge and experience do it faster and sometimes more cheaply, but it must be out of pleasure that you take the task upon yourself. In another way, it is a show of self-efficiency and cleverness (“Why yes, I did brew that beer/install that veggie oil fuel system/make that music video/build that composting toilet all by myself in my spare time.”).


Urban Water Sources in Malang and Makassar, Indonesia  by Misha Hutchings, September 2011

community_water_source_makassar.jpgIn a tropical country like Indonesia water is available everywhere -- pouring down in torrents onto city streets, hovering as mist in rainforests and along the coastline, snaking as rivers from countryside to city, and bubbling up from beneath your feet where you least expect it. Unfortunately, like many countries rich in water resources that are experiencing exponential urban growth, it is difficult for all city residents in Indonesia to obtain access to potable water. In the inland Javanese city of Malang, our first pilot location for the Indonesia WATER SMS Project -- to improve water services for the urban poor using crowd-sourced map data from reports that people send using cell phones and email -- 80-85,000 households of the 819,000-person population receive direct service from the local water utility, PDAM Kota Malang. This is among the highest connection rates for water utilities in Indonesia.


Field Report from Hivre Bazar on July 1, 2011 by Veena Srinivasan, August 2011

hivre_bazar_streetsIn the first week of July, I had the pleasure of visiting Hivre Bazar, a village close to the town of Ahmednagar in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra.

Hivre Bazar is considered of the biggest success stories of the participatory watershed movement in India. Twenty years ago, a 1992 household survey showed over 90% of the families in the village were below the poverty line. There was a lot of in-fighting and high rates of alcoholism among villagers. Following the death of one village after one partisan fight, many moved out of the main village centre- either to live nearer their fields or to urban areas. Drinking water was scarce and agriculture was precarious. Poor farmers depended on rain-fed agriculture, the richer farmers were bore-well dependent - often running their pumps round the clock. The village was considered unsuitable for government schemes - no government official was willing to visit the village much less waste his time trying to implement a scheme in the village.


The Waghad System: Institutions, the Role of Mobile Technology, and Wise Water Use by Veena Srinivasan, August 2011

Waghad Institutions

The Waghad system has well developed water institutions that have contributed to it being such a major success story. One of the hardest problems to tackle in all water management is enforcement of rules. Many villages in India have registered WUAs as per various PIM state laws. However, enforcement – making sure the water is allocated equitably and no one tries to cheat - remains a thorny issue.
Based on these conversations at Ozar and Mohadi villages, I found several recurring themes about how water was being managed.

  1. Consensus on water allocation rules
  2. Establishment of trust
  3. Robust monitoring and enforcement arrangements
  4. Theft deterrence mechanisms
  5. De-politicized, fair voting process
  6. Sound financial management


A Success Story in Participatory Irrigation Management in India: The Waghad Farmer Managed Irrigation System by Veena Srinivasan, July 2011

Awards for Waghad Irrigation SystemLast week I visited a farmer-managed irrigation system in India's Waghad Medium Irrigation Project. I passed by the Waghad Project in my quest to locate Multiple-Use Water Services (MUS) systems around the city of Nasik, India. The Pacific Institute is currently working on understanding multiple-use as a potential for funding for improvements in the water sector. Although Waghad is not strictly an MUS case because of its size, it is an interesting case study because it highlights how “soft” options alone -- information, participation, social norms, and wise use of water -- can achieve dramatic results.

The project represents a highly successful “bottom-up” farmer taking over of the irrigation system and the huge prosperity it has brought to the region. What was once a decaying irrigation system where farmers received no water and the Irrigation Department received no revenue is now a thriving region where incomes have grown 50-fold and Irrigation Department Revenues went up 10-fold within 15 years. The success of this project, in part, resulted in the state government passing the Maharashtra State Farmer Managed Irrigation Act in 2005, in a bid to replicate the success elsewhere. The project’s success has been recognized by many awards including one from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) which allowed the project to compete for a water efficiency award as a private company.

Need for Water Resource Management and Adequate Sanitation by Dr. John Akudago, June 2011

mahama_azundo_photo.jpg“Water is life,” says 60-year-old Mahama Azundo of Gbulung, a community 5 Km East of Savelugu in the Northern Region of Ghana. He explained that with water he could provide enough food for his family, be safe from water borne-diseases, and also get other development projects such as building his mud house and community shea-butter processing accomplished. Mr. Mahama – standing by a hand-dug well that was provided by Adventist Relief Agency (ADRA) over 20 years ago and a dam that was constructed in early 1960s mainly for drinking water – mentioned that in the last eight years, World Vision and its West Africa Water Initiative (WAWI) partners have taught them how to use the water for irrigation, which has brought improvement to their lives including a radio set he now owns (see photo 1).


Safe Guarding Water Quality - A Concern for All by Dr. John Akudago, June 2011

At Lamsheigu, a Surburb of Tamale, Ghana, and about 30 km south of SavGhana polluted waterelugu, there is a surface dam which is being used by people for domestic purposes. Close to the dam is a vehicle washing bay, for the purpose of easy access to water. This dam is polluted from oils and dirt from the surrounding and vehicles that are washed.

Though it was mentioned that the water is used for bathing and cooking, there is not any form of household-level treatment before use according to some women I spoke to. The photo above shows the dirty water in the dam.



Searching for Water Sources in Malang, East Java by Misha Hutchings, April 2011

malang_urban_spring.jpgWhen residents of cities don't have access to municipal water services, where do they get their water? In developing country cities, such as Malang in East Java Province, Indonesia, these residents access water in whatever way they can. Often, they purchase drinking water from private vendors or community water user groups. But their primary sources are usually wells, boreholes, springs, and even rivers -- all of which draw from or recharge the local aquifers. Here we see one of many community-financed wells where the water level becomes low enough during the dry season that other sources must be sought.

The alternative sources in this neighborhood are unmonitored urban springs, often situated within eye-shot of an open sewer. The resourcefulness and organization of communities under these circumstances is incredible, but one can't help but wonder how they will fare in another 10 or 15 years. None of Malang's water sector stakeholders -- utilities, informal water vendors, and residents -- has full knowledge of the activities of the other, nor knows how these activities impact their own access to water. If left unchecked, it could have an extreme impact on the sustainability and capacity of the aquifers and other water resources, and hence the vulnerability of these people to water scarcity.



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