The Past, Present and Future of Groundwater – Inspiration from the IAH Congress

The 43rd Congress of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) brings together 800 specialists from all around the world. It is the first morning, and I am already inspired. Although the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) has worked alongside and interacted considerably with IAH over its history, I personally only joined IAH this year. However, I am very glad to have become a member of such a warm and committed association which explicitly recognises the importance of cooperation between groundwater experts and other specialists. IAH is about much moth than sophisticated technical models. And so I encourage other RWSN members with an interest in groundwater to do the same, and benefit from being exchange with others.

So what is the talk here so far? The opening speakers have emphasised population growth and migration to cities (including Montpellier, where this congress is hosted) several times. These changes, alongside climate change, present a key challenge for groundwater specialists and associated professions.

Learning about the history of IAH from John Chilton, current executive director, I am struck by the journey that the association has made since it was established in September 1956. Having gone through three stages of formation, growth and consolidation over 60 years, the exchange, publications and outreach of the association are impressive. It was IAH that commissioned some of the first hydrogeological maps in the late 1950’s. Fast forwarding to today, there are now four new national chapters recently opened in New Zealand, Tunisia, Turkey and Iraq. Certainly, we, as RWSN have much to learn from IAH. But more importantly we need to think about how we can join hands to bring about change in key areas.

I am particularly inspired by The Time Capsule, which enables us to learn from some of the greatest minds of groundwater – you can watch and listen to Charles Vernon Theis (of the Theis test pump equation) and many others. A big thanks to IAH for getting these on line and enabling the next generation us to learn from and be inspired by the wise words of those with such experience.

Looking forwards, IAH’s Burdon Network is particularly relevant for IAH and RWSN. And we should both scratch our heads to figure out how to the harness investment, personnel and partnerships needed to raise capacity in the south so that groundwater management and development can be effectively managed and developed.

A brief exchange yesterday evening with Shami Puri has raised the importance of training, equipping and retaining the technicians to collect the data and undertake the measurements much needed to raise understanding of groundwater in Africa, and other emerging regions of the world; and with Callist Tindimugaya us about plans to develop a water training institute in Uganda. There will be many more exchanges here, I eagerly wait to see what else I can lean as the Congress continues.

WEDC Vacancy: Research Associate in Sanitation and Water

Fixed-term for 18 months

A good opportunity to undertake innovative research on sanitation and water in developing countries at the internationally renown WEDC (Water Engineering and Development Centre). The role will include: supporting and managing assessments and research on the sustainability aspects of the DFID funded South Asia rural WASH results project. Other work will include research on improving water security for the poor in slums.

A good masters degree in water and sanitation or related subject is essential, as are excellent communication and analytical skills, the ability to carry out research, write reports and a willingness to travel. Practical experience of work on projects or related research in developing countries would be highly advantageous, as well as working as part of a team.

Informal enquiries should be made to Kevin Sansom at WEDC – K.R.Sansom@lboro.ac.uk or by telephone on +44 (0)1509 222885 or 222617.

Application closing date: 13 October 2016.

FULL DETAILS: http://wedc.lu/ra-vacancy

RWSN Update – September 2016

 

If you are having trouble reading this then download the more readable PDF version: ENGLISH / FRANÇAIS.

Pour les francophones – Si vous souhaitez recevoir le bulletin trimestriel en français, veuillez nous écrire un e-mail à ruralwater @ skat.ch intitulé Bulletin Trimestriel en français.

English

The late Ton Schouten: 1955 – 2016

The sudden loss of Ton Schouten in May 2016 came as a shock to many of us, and sitting here looking at his photo I find myself still not quite believing that he has left; thinking that he might just call, send a message, or that we may bump into each other in the corridor of a sector meeting.

We miss you Ton. I think that you would have gazed with eyes wide, stood with ears pricked at the farewell given to you by your family, friends and colleagues in Delft on the 30 May. We learned so much about other parts of your life; your rich and full life. A life of listening, of caring, of giving, of philosophising and of humour. You touched the hearts and minds of people in so many places, and from multiple walks of life. Thank you Ton. Thank you.

Patrick Moriaty (CEO, IRC) helped us to know more about Ton in his tribute, so allow me to borrow from him: Ton worked with IRC for more than 17 years, and was equally a leading figure in the WASH sector, a steadfast champion of the cause of sustainability and above all of an approach to development that was based on respect and support to national actors and institutions. During his time at IRC, Ton led Triple-S (Sustainable Services at Scale), RiPPLE and SMARTerWASH and supported IRC’s Ghana country team. Ton brought his original passion for film making to IRC, producing the Seventh Video in 2000, a compilation of lessons on community water management from Nepal, Pakistan, Cameroon, Kenya, Colombia and Guatemala. Ton later used clips for another video “What if?”, which illustrated the concepts behind the Triple-S initiative. Other significant works that Ton co-authored include “Doing things differently: stories about local water governance in Egypt, Jordan and Palestine” (2008) and “Community water, community management: from system to service in rural areas” (2003). In recent years Ton became a champion of sector monitoring as a critical building block for national ownership and sustainability. It was with great pride that he organised IRC’s 2013 international symposium on “Monitoring sustainable WASH service delivery” in Addis Ababa. The outputs of the symposium formed the basis for a state-of-the-art book on WASH monitoring, for which he was co-editor: “From infrastructure to services: trends in monitoring sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services”.

Many RWSN members sent their condolences and wishes, which we passed onto IRC and Ton’s family. Thanks to all of you. There is an online condolence register on www.memori.nl/ton-schouten.

Ton’s departure as our chair has certainly been felt. However he has left his mark, fired us up with ideas, and so as we nominate a new chair in the coming months and move forwards, we will keep on carrying the bright torch that Ton handed us – particilarly of listening to RWSN members – and enabling you, the membership to engage more with one another and keep on improving water supply services in rural areas.

 

Dr Kerstin Danert, Director RWSN Secretariat

 

HEADLINES

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Rural Water Supply Research: September 2015

Research and knowledge is critical to improving rural water services worldwide. At RWSN we act as bridge between research, policy and practice.  In recent RWSN newsletters, we have collated the latest in academic research. We have moved that list here to make it more accessible (and the newsletter shorter!).  If we have missed anything, then please do let us know.

Note that access to many papers is restricted and has to be purchased. Some are open access so that articles are free to download.

[OPEN ACCESS]

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wsp

#RWSN @ #WWW : the presentations

RWSN co-convened two sessions at last week’s SIWI World Water Week in Stockholm and presentations are available to download:

WASHoholic Anonymous – Confessions of Failure and how to Reform

All presentations: http://programme.worldwaterweek.org/sites/default/files/panzerbeiter_lt_1400.pdf

Build and Run to Last: Advances in Rural Water Services

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Improved self-supply well in Zimbabwe (A. Olschewski, 2015)

Handing over Self-supply

 

André Olschewski will be leaving Skat and handing over his role as Theme Leader for Accelerating Self-supply (ACCESS) to Matthias Saladin. André reflects on the last five years:

Dear all,

There is widespread recognition that many people particularly rural dwellers improve their water supplies with their own investments. This was barely part of the discourse when RWSN launched the Self-supply theme and term in 2004 under the leadership of Dr. Sally Sutton, supported by WSP and UNICEF. As with any innovations, taking the concept of Self-supply from the periphery towards mainstream development has not been simple or an easy journey.

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