Published Article

Is volumetric pricing for drinking water an effective revenue strategy in rural Mali?

This paper is based on an analysis of over 4,000 months of handpump revenue data in Mali, exploring the effect on revenue and usage when a water service switches from a volumetric tariff to a monthly flat fee. The switch from volumetric to flat fees led to three times more monthly revenue, although a subsidy gap persists. Flat fees and higher temperatures were linked to higher water usage, offering insights into the role of professional service delivery models to support climate-resilient and reliable drinking water supplies for rural communities.

Ensuring sustainable water security through sustainable land management: Research evidences for policy

Land degradation is adversely affecting over 75% of the Earth’s land surface and could exceed 90% by 2050. Likewise, the rate of soil erosion will increase by 66% during the period 2015–2070. Sustainable land management (SLM) practices are key to reducing rates of land degradation and are proven to ensure water security by increasing soil moisture availability, decreasing surface runoff, decreasing soil erosion, increasing infiltration, and decreasing flood discharge. In Ethiopia, over 85% of the land is moderately to very severely degraded at an estimated cost of $4.6 billion annually. This research highlights the importance of developing an SLM-water security policy to make the most of SLM techniques at a local and national scale.

Tracing contaminants of emerging concern in the Awash River basin, Ethiopia

This study focuses on characterization of Emerging Organic Contaminants (EOCs) in the Awash River basin. Characterization of the EOCs was supplemented by chemical analysis of samples from river, boreholes, tap water, and surface water reservoirs. Analyses of environmental isotopes (δ 2 H, δ 18 O, and 222Rn) were used to investigate the exchange of contaminants between surface and groundwater supply sources. The analysis showed new types of contaminants in the water supply sources with potential impact on human and wider environmental health.

Demystifying Heavy Metals and Physicochemical Characteristics of Groundwater in a Volcano-Tectonic Region of Middle Awash, Ethiopia, for Multipurpose Use

This study investigates the concentrations of physicochemical and heavy metal contaminants in the groundwater of the Middle Awash Basin, Ethiopia, to inform targeted water management strategies. After collecting groundwater samples during both the dry (June) and wet (October) seasons of 2021, the study found significant levels of contamination, including extraordinarily high concentrations of total dissolved solids and electrical conductivity. Over half of the groundwater sources were unsuitable for drinking, posing significant health risks to local communities that rely heavily on these sources due to limited access to clean surface water. These findings highlight the urgent need for comprehensive groundwater management and remediation plans in the Middle Awash region to ensure safe and sustainable water use.

Science–practitioner partnerships for sustainable development

How can we design funding models which are flexible and appropriate for science to deliver and sustain development impacts? A Nature Water Comment piece explores this question based on global experience to inform science funding bodies, governments, and donors. It offers a rethink of traditional science engagement to promote longer term collaboration including foundational science, advisory science, operational science and reflexive science.

Unbundling water and land rights in Kilifi County, Kenya a gender perspective

Feminist scholars have highlighted the importance of women’s land rights, and irrigation studies have explored the gendered relationships between land and water rights. However, less research has been conducted which assesses the relationship between water and land rights for domestic and productive purposes. Therefore, by collating community profiles, focus group discussions, interviews and survey data, this study explores women’s rights to land and water within rural communities in Kilifi County, Kenya. It provides interesting insight into the dynamics and negotiations of water access, including the social networks that affect how water transactions take place.

Reinforcing Feedbacks for Sustainable Implementation of Rural Drinking-Water Treatment Technology

Water safety management is a key factor that rural service delivery models must incorporate if they are to achieve universal access to safe drinking water. Practices such as source protection and water treatment help reduce the risk of fecal contamination. Therefore, this study recognises the importance of water treatment, assessing the implementation of passive chlorination and ultraviolet (UV) disinfection technologies in rural parts of South America, Africa, and Asia. The results identify a series of leverage points which highlight the need for fit-for-purpose intervention design reinforced by collaboration between facilitating actors through hybrid service delivery models.

Multibranch Modelling of Flow and Water Quality in the Dhaka River System, Bangladesh: Impacts of Future Development Plans and Climate Change

The rivers of Dhaka, Bangladesh, suffer high levels of pollution from untreated sewage and industrial effluent. To address this, over the next 20 years, the government is planning to install 12 large Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) across the Dhaka River System. This paper applies a water quality model to assess the efficacy of this planned investment. The model suggests that the STPs will improve water quality in the most densely populated areas of the city along the Turag and Buriganga rivers, and in some other parts of the city (Tongi Khal). However, future upgrades will be needed to improve dissolved oxygen levels more widely, due to predicted population growth. Policies to reduce industrial pollution should also be pursued.

Hydrologic Extremes in a Changing Climate: a Review of Extremes in East Africa

This review presents recent research on drivers and typologies of climate extremes across different East African geographies. Droughts and floods remain the major challenges of the region. There are improvements in forecasting these extremes, but further research is required to improve understanding of key drivers and improve information provision for risk-based decision-making.

Environmental isotopes (δ 18O–δ 2H, 222Rn) and electrical conductivity in backtracking sources of urban pipe water, monitoring the stability of water quality and estimating pipe water residence time

In this paper, environmental isotopes and electrical conductivity are used to investigate water quality variations in the urban piped water network of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The isotopic signature of the water allows the back-tracking of tap water to its source and also provides insights into pipe water residence time for groundwater-sources supplies. The tracers reveal that 50% of the city relies on groundwater, and that groundwater-sourced water supplies show the highest water quality instability. One important cause of water quality variation in the city is borehole stoppages and reconnection as a result of electricity cuts.

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