February 2020

Water Supply Landscape in Kabarole District, Uganda

Why doesn’t water quality testing meet regulatory standards in many African countries?

Aquaya launched the Monitoring for Safe Water (MfSW) program in 2012 to answer this question. The first part of MfSW was supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and sought to identify and evaluate constraints to water management in sub-Saharan Africa. In collaboration with project partners the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Water Association (IWA), MfSW worked with 26 on-the-ground program partners required by regulation to monitor water quality (either water suppliers or public health agencies) in six African countries: Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Senegal, Uganda, and Zambia. Together, these 26 suppliers and agencies cover 118 piped water systems and 343 public health districts and are required to monitor water services for over 40 million people across the continent. Aquaya provided financial incentives to the MfSW program partners in exchange for improved testing performance and then monitored each partner’s ability to collect the incentives in order to identify and analyze the full range of factors that support or hinder improved testing. We used this analysis to develop a tool for assessing and guiding institutional capacity for African water quality management. We have also developed a comprehensive analysis of microbial water quality in Africa based on the over 70, 000 water quality tests we’ve received from the program partners.

Now in it’s second part, MfSW II is funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation (CNHF), and is a four-phase program implemented at the district-level in Ghana, Uganda, and Burkina Faso.

The program aims to identify water quality monitoring systems and interventions that will result in sustainable water quality monitoring that is not reliant on donor funding or other inputs in targeted districts. Phase 1 of the program entails conducting a regulatory diagnostic and situation analysis in the three countries of interest to determine what water quality regulations specify versus what testing activities are actually happening. Phase 2 involves deciding on central versus onsite testing structures that are most likely to succeed in each targeted district. Subsequently, Phase 3 involves designing and evaluating interventions (i.e., water safety surcharges, water supplier awards program, and public participation) in collaboration with CNHF implementing partners and local governments to increase resources and motivation for testing. Finally, Phase 4 of the program will incorporate findings from the previous phases to build sustainable water quality testing systems in each district. MfSW II builds on Aquaya’s previous Monitoring for Safe Water program that evaluated constraints to water quality monitoring in sub-Saharan Africa. Results will provide a basis for scaling-up water quality monitoring programs across Ghana, Uganda, and Burkina Faso.

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