UNICEF’s East & Southern Africa Regional Office – ESARO together with SKAT Foundation in Switzerland who act as the Secretariat of the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) have jointly contracted Africa AHEAD to undertake a detailed study of Self-Supply in Zimbabwe. ‘Self Supply’ has come to mean how rural householders can get safe drinking water for their family with out an external subsidies.
The Upgraded Family Well (UFW) model for sustainable rural water supply is one such example. With a shallow water table in much of Zimbabwe, households merely dug a traditional open well to access their own water. An ‘Upgraded’ well means that the each well fitted with a steel windlass, lockable tin lid and a sanitary seal in the form of a concrete apron with up-stand and runoff to protect the well from contamination. This technology really took off in Zimbabwe during the the early 1990’s when Zimbabwe’s WASH sector was probably the most admired and successful in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr. Peter Morgan and his team at the Blair Research Institute (Ministry of Health) developed the original UFW concept. In 1992, Africa AHEAD Director of Programmes, Anthony Waterkeyn funded by WaterAid-UK, teamed up with Dr. Morgan and his team at the Blair Research and founded a local NGO called Mvuramanzi Trust in order to scale up and roll out the UFW concept. By 1995 around 15,000 UFWs had been constructed through this NGOs, which is still the main proponent of this technology in Zimbabwe. Today, there are estimated to be over 300,000 family-owned and self supplied wells across the country. With the current economic challenges much of the more sophisticated technologies such as handpumps has fallen into disrepair leaving the simple option as a family well as the most sustainable choice. Now these protected wells are sustaining not only rural communities but also those in urban and high-density peri-urban settings as well.
This Self-Supply Study (SSS) will involve interviewing 150 households about their water supply. As a further interest, half of the households will be CHC members, to ascertain if being a CHC member brings any more likelihood of using protected drinking water. Water quality tests (for thermo-tolerant coliforms and nitrates using portable DelAgua test kits) will be carried out on 200 wells to determine the quality of water of upgraded wells, partially upgraded and traditional wells. In addition, 200 Point-of-Use water quality tests will also be undertaken to include households which also use Communal Water Supplies (i.e. bore holes fitted with the Zimbabwe ‘B’-type Bush pump).
A wide range of Focal Group Discussions and Key Informant Interviews will be carried out at national, provincial, district, ward and village levels to help gain a complete understanding of attitudes at all levels to the whole concept of Self Supply.
The Director of Programmes met André Olschewski, WASH Specialist for SKAT, in Harare on 24th August 2015 to initiate the SSS. A number of key individuals who had initiated the Upgraded Family Well programme were interviewed including Dr Peter Morgan, who won the Stockholm Water Prize in 2013 for his many achievements and significant contributions to the global WASH sector over the past few decades.
Identical research is also being undertaken in Zambia for a comparative analysis between the two countries, given that Zambia has a less developed self-supply history. WaterAid-Zambia is assisting SKAT and UNICEF to undertake the Zambian SSS.