WaterAid has always been big on sustainability; whether it be promoting affordable technology or up-skilling people for the on-going management of services. We’re an organisation committed to innovation; making sure we’re constantly adapting to meet the needs of the changing times. In the spirit of innovation then, I’d like to put forward some suggestions about how WaterAid and our peer organisations may want to adapt our work in the face of the world’s current emerging global crisis: climate change, particularly in the area of drinking water source sustainability.
- Environmental awareness components could be incorporated into our Water, Sanitation and Hygiene project plans, for example, components that focus on land use patterns, deforestation, extraction of ground water and overgrazing of pasture land.
- The issues of how infrastructure development, housing, upstream diversion, carbon emissions etc impact on drinking water source sustainability should be added to the agenda for discussion
- Research could be conducted into the annual rainfall versus source yield change patterns within the micro watershed areas (or WaterAid project areas). This would help us to understand any emerging trends during the period of a project, (2-3 years) and to explore adaptation strategies. Learning gained from such research can be applied to the engineering and design of future projects.
- Proven science from forestry and botanical fields can be utilized as potential ways of improving source yields. For example we could explore whether bio-engineering techniques close to the source are effective in terms of improving the water infiltration and holding capacity of sub soil. We could increase awareness about the types of species that consume more underground water and therefore reduce source yields and the types of species that can retain more water in the soil for longer periods, contributing to improved source yields during dry seasons.
- We could pilot alternative techniques of improving ground water recharging in WaterAid supported projects in Nepal, for example by tapping rain water, storm water and waste water
- Local knowledge and appropriate technologies that could potentially improve source yields should also be explored, proven and promoted
These are some ideas of how WaterAid is looking to adapt its working practices in the face of the current changing climate but I would be interested in hearing your thoughts and suggestions. Is this the right approach do you think? Is there anything else we need to consider? Please don’t hesitate to share your views below.
Written by Barun Kanta Adhikari, Planning and Monitoring Manager, WaterAid in Nepal