Sustainable water resources management in Sri Lanka: present situation and way forward

by Senevirathne,   Assistant General Manger (Sociology), Sociology Section, NWSDB

Sustainable Water Resource Management

Sustainable water resource management has become a crucial factor for the socio-economic development of Sri Lanka that faces seasonal variation and competition among water users. One of the biggest concerns for our water-based resources in future is the sustainability of the current and even future water resource allocation. The latter part of this paper describes the current practices taken for water resource management with a view to updating sustainable strategies and putting them into practice.

It is true that making the sustainable development of our water resources is a challenge in Sri Lanka when considering the climatic changes, pressures from economic growth, the rising population, and increasing water consumption. The combination of these factors commonly results in increased water use, competition and pollution. Therefore, attention and concern must be given to collect, compile and gain knowledge from consumption, pollution and generate data of experimental value. This paper describes the main aspects of what has been learned in the process of supporting sustainable water resources management. Continue reading

No crystal ball, but insights on how rural water systems change

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Originally posted on water services that last:

It’s hard to predict what impact investments and innovations in the water sector will have on citizens’ access to services. Understanding underlying mechanisms and potential bottlenecks of change can help decide how and where to invest resources, while also giving a more realistic picture of the time scale required.

capture-20150218-122025 Many interventions do not follow a straight line and have unintended consequences.

Carmen and Deirdre describe innovative work being done by IRC to better understand how water service delivery systems evolve and steps towards developing a bottom- up model that illustrates the potential long term systemic effects of individual level change.

Read more Will innovation lead to change? Darwin gives some pointers

An agent based model shows how individual actions give rise to new macro-level patterns, or emergent outcomes that are otherwise difficult to predict. An agent based model shows how individual actions give rise to new macro-level patterns, or emergent outcomes that are otherwise difficult to predict.


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What is the big deal about manual drilling anyway?

Where is manual drilling taking place

Let me tell you a not-very-well-kept secret. My PhD research some 15 years ago was on manual drilling. That was what took me to Uganda in the first place and taught me how to link social science, business development and technology. For those of you who don’t know what it is, manual drilling refers to several drilling methods that rely on human energy to construct a borehole and complete a water supply. These methods can be used in areas where formations are quite soft and groundwater is relatively shallow. And by the way, the “Pounder rig” as we called it worked, but it never took off in Uganda (the details are in my thesis).

My interest in manual drilling never went away, and I carried it into the Rural Water Supply Network when I started to lead the cost-effective boreholes topic in 2005. Within RWSN, we have been looking at both mechanised and manual drilling ever since. So when UNICEF decided to document the experiences of professionalising manual drilling two years ago I jumped at the opportunity. How often is one given a chance to return to one’s field of original study?

Some of you may be asking what makes manual drilling so interesting. Well, it can provide safe drinking water. The equipment can easily be transported to remote, or difficult to serve populations which would otherwise be left behind. The lower costs compared to machine drilling are appreciated by households, businesses and governments: Manual drilling also provides local employment. I have just come to the end of two years of work to document manual drilling experiences from around the world. It has been a very rewarding experience. And I have to say I am both impressed and grateful by the number of dedicated people that are trying to harness the potential of this technology in many parts of the world. When I started my PhD back in 1998, the only other manual drilling promoter in Africa that I knew about was Jon Naugle who was working in Niger. But slowly I have learned more about the history of manual drilling – the World Bank funded work in Nigeria in the 1980s promoting agricultural wells. More recently the UNICEF/Practica Foundation/Enterprise Works Toolkit for the Professionalisation of Manual Drilling has helped to spur others to take this technology seriously, and to think about quality work and a professional drilling sector.

Today, manual drilling methods are being used to provide water for drinking and other domestic needs in at least 36 countries. In some places, manual drilling methods are well established. Millions of people in rural and urban areas use “tubewells” that were drilled manually in India and Bangladesh.

In several African countries, manual drilling is also on the increase. In 2005 I visited Niger to learn about manual drilling (and massively improve my French). In 2013 and 2014 I visited Chad and Nigeria, where there has been a tremendous upsurge in use of the technology. In others countries, such as Malawi, manual drilling has been recently introduced.

Jetting in Nigeria

Jetting in Nigeria/Countries where manual drilling is being used to provide drinking water supplies

In February 2015, RWSN has just published a Compendium of Manual Drilling. It provides an overview for those wishing to further examine the impacts and challenges of the methods. I hope that it will inspire agencies and individuals to seek ways of improving practices on the ground. Many of the promoters of manual drilling are isolated from each other, but they are certainly not alone in their endeavours!

There are examples of drilling techniques being adapted by private enterprises as well as development organisations to suit the local context within Africa. Once manual drilling takes off, most boreholes are constructed for households and businesses as self-supply sources. There is a wide spectrum of borehole designs alongside concerns about contamination. Unfortunately, this is not backed up or refuted by synthesised information and analysis of water quality.

In many countries, lack of national guidelines and regulations (or poor enforcement) exacerbates concerns. Not all organisations that are promoting manual drilling consult or liaise with government, and there is a tendency (perhaps with the exception of Kenya) of promoting manual drilling in a vacuum rather than related to conventional drilling. Some organisations are promoting very low cost designs which may compromise the safety of a drinking water supply. Take note – manual drilling is here to stay, and it is growing! The profile of manual drilling among wider development and research communities should be higher than it currently is.

We shall present the compendium on the webinar on Tue 10th Feb 2015.  If you are intersted, please register here.

Promotion of Manual Drilling by a Private Enterprise in Chad

Opinion: Failing To Learn From Experience

Originally posted on WaterSan Perspective:

Angella Naturinda and Lynna Abaho
January 28, 2015

Weather experts predict a continuation of the current hot and dry weather conditions in most parts of Uganda. This weather condition which started immediately after Christmas has come with several challenges such as food and water shortage, wildfire, siltation, soil erosion, pests and diseases which are causing devastating loss to farmers especially those in south western region.

For several decades now, the South Western part of Uganda has experienced such dry conditions during the month of January that stretch up to March. What is so surprising is that people in south western region are not learning from this annual experience.

Some of the worst affected people are farmers and residents of Kiruhura district found in the Ankole cattle corridor of Uganda.

Most of the people in Kiruhura are pastoralists and therefore the dry spell means that their livestock lack pasture and water…

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Sharing is Caring: The Emerging Framework for Sharing Water Point Data

WDPx Webinar Invite

Webinar – February 5, 2015 – 11:00am  EST

On behalf of the Water Point Data Exchange, we invite you to join a one hour webinar on Thursday, February 5 at 11:00am EST. This webinar will provide an exciting update on sector-wide efforts to support  the sharing of water point data across diverse stakeholders.

This webinar will provide an exciting update on sector-wide efforts to support the sharing of water point data across diverse stakeholders. Harmonizing this data has the potential to provide unprecedented opportunities for learning from the past and managing water services well into the future.

Starting with a background on the objectives of this initiative, the webinar will also provide an update on the progress made to date and the next steps in the development of the Water Point Data Exchange. Participants will be introduced to the current draft standard and also learn how they can to help shape the standard as this work moves forward.

 Click here to register.


Brian Banks

Director of Strategic Initiatives

Global Environment & Technology Foundation

2900 S. Quincy Street, Suite 375

Arlington, VA 22206

Phone: (703) 379-2713


Handpump standardisation in sub-Saharan Africa: Seeking a champion

Handpump Standardisation infographic (J. MacArthur, Jan 2013)
Handpump Standardisation infographic (J. MacArthur, Jan 2013)

by Jess MacArthur, IDE Bangladesh

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Download the new RWSN Publication “Handpump standardisation in sub-Saharan African”

As a millennial, I have to admit: I really enjoy technology and innovation. I love to read innovation blogs and to dissect innovation theory. So just over two years ago as I began researching how innovation intersects development in the world of handpumps, I felt a bit stumped. An estimated 184 million people in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) today rely on handpumps for their domestic water and many of these use designs that were developed before I was born. Yes, that makes me young and maybe that make you feel old. But mostly, it made me sit back and think. Is this beneficial or is this concerning? At the time I was helping Water4 navigate the policy-sphere around new handpump integration.  I wanted to know why certain handpumps have more dominance in certain areas and how innovators can pilot in the sector with both evolutionary and revolutionary designs.

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Upcoming Webinar with Engineers for Change: Future-proofing Water Systems in Developing Countries

RWSN Secretariat:

This should be good…

Originally posted on Improve International:

WEBINAR: Future-proofing Water Systems in Developing Countries: How to Protect Investment and Increase Success through Preventive Maintenance


engineers for changeThanks to Engineers for Change, who invited me to present on one of my favorite topics: preventing failure (or future-proofing).  Details on the webinar are below.

Date: 18 February 2015

Time: 11:00 a.m. New York, EST ( convert to your time )

Speaker: Susan Davis, Executive Director, Improve International

About this webinar: Many well-intentioned people are working to make water flow in the homes of more than half of the world’s population that do not have it. But on average, 40% of rural water systems in developing countries stop working a few years after they are built. Billions of dollars in aid money have been thrown at the problem, but recent maps of water systems in several countries shows that they continue to break down.

In this webinar, we…

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