Environmental Assessment and Risk Screening for Rural Water Supply: Guidance note developed for the SWIFT Consortium

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Improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services is a vital element for poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa. Long-term increase in coverage depends on many factors, including sound financing, community engagement in the design and implementation of schemes, and the training of village mechanics, local government and entrepreneurs in the upkeep and repair of systems. For a scheme to be sustainable, planning also needs to consider whether there is enough water of suitable quality to meet demand across seasons and between good and bad years. Flooding, land degradation and other environmental risks to water systems also need to be addressed, especially as climate change accelerates. This guide aims to show how organizations implementing WASH programmes, working in partnership with communities, can integrate these concerns into their activities and complement existing approaches such as Water Safety Planning (WSP). The focus of the guide is on groundwater-based, community-managed wells and springs in rural areas – systems that are potentially most vulnerable to changes in rainfall and in demand due to population growth.  
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    Guidance note developed for the SWIFT Consortium Eva Ludi, Roger Calow ODI) Frank Greaves Tearfund) Environmental assessment and risk screening for rural water supply July 2015    Page | 2 Key messages    This report provides a tool to support environmental assessment and risk screening activities for rural water supplies in low-income and fragile contexts.    It was developed by ODI, with support from Tearfund, for the Sustainable WASH in Fragile Contexts (SWIFT) consortium, providing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services under the DFID WASH Results Programme funded by the UK Government.    This addresses the following questions regarding shallow groundwater sources (i.e., springs and wells) –  both new and existing:    Is there enough water of suitable quality to meet demand across seasons for the long term?    What are the main environmental risks to ensuring a sustainable supply of safe water?    How can these risks be mitigated?    The tool proposes four main steps to do this: 1.   Understand how much water is available by tapping local knowledge 2.   Determine how much groundwater is needed to meet demand, and how big the catchment (recharge) area of a well will need to be to provide this water 3.   Protect the sites and sources by identifying environmental hazards of, and measures for, site degradation and water supply contamination 4.   Maintain records of the assessment, design and implementation of groundwater projects, so as to inform similar, future projects    Pages 10 and 11 of this report include a simple flow diagram of the tool that can be used to progress through each of these steps    Page | 3 Acknowledgements The Consortium for Sustainable Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Fragile Contexts (SWIFT) gratefully acknowledges the funding support from the UK Department for International Development to carry out this work as part of its Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Results Programme. This tools draws heavily on work carried out by Roger Calow, Eva Ludi, Seifu Kebede and Andrew McKenzie on similar issues in Ethiopia commissioned by DFID-Ethiopia and supported by the Government of Finland. Comments and practical insights on ideas for this tool and on an early draft were provided by Tearfund and Oxfam country office staff in Goma and Kinshasa, DRC, and government and non-government partner organisations of SWIFT in Goma, DRC. Andy Bastable, Head of Water and Sanitation at Oxfam GB and Geraint Burrows, Hydrologists Without Borders (HWB), provided extremely valuable comments and critical reflections on early drafts of the tool and provided access to resources compiled by HWB-UK. Any errors are our own.    Page | 4 Contents Introduction ................................................................................................................................................ 7  Why is the guidance important? .................................................................................................................. 7 What does the guidance cover? .................................................................................................................. 8 Step 1: Understanding water availability: tapping existing knowledge .................................................... 12  Why is this important? ................................................................................................................................ 12 What does the guidance cover? ................................................................................................................ 12 What activities are involved? ..................................................................................................................... 13 Step 1.1 –  Understanding local geology ............................................................................................... 13   Step 1.2 –  Understanding source behaviour ....................................................................................... 16   Step 1.3 –  Measuring the yield of existing sources ............................................................................. 17   Step 2: Ensuring sustainability: estimating supply and demand ............................................................. 19  Why is it important? .................................................................................................................................... 19 What does the guidance cover? ................................................................................................................ 19 What activities are involved? ..................................................................................................................... 20 Step 2.1 –  Selecting sites: rules of thumb ........................................................................................... 20   Step 2.2 –  Estimating demand.............................................................................................................. 21   Step 2.3 –  Estimating the required catchment size (wells) or yield (springs) .................................... 22   Step 3: Protecting sites and sources: hazard assessment and mitigation .............................................. 27  Why is it important? .................................................................................................................................... 27 What does the guidance cover? ................................................................................................................ 27 What activities are involved? ..................................................................................................................... 28 Step 3.1 –  Assessing direct hazards near a water point ..................................................................... 28   Step 3.2 –  Assessing indirect environmental hazards in the wider catchment ................................ 31   Step 3.3 –  Developing a catchment protection plan ........................................................................... 34   Step 4: Record keeping ............................................................................................................................ 37  What data should be kept? ........................................................................................................................ 37 Why should data be kept? ......................................................................................................................... 37 Where should data be kept? ...................................................................................................................... 37 Additional reference material and further reading ................................................................................... 39  
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