Resilient WASH systems in drought-prone areas

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This section is based on a desk study written by Eric Fewster, commissioned by CARE Netherlands and the Netherlands Red Cross

Resilient WASH systems need to be able to cope with changes in the availability of water. This section explores which techniques can be used to improve water availability over space and time in areas not only prone to drought and changing climate variability, but also those areas with deteriorating water availability due to increasing water demands and human influences. The focus is on water supply and non-motorized irrigation in rural areas for populations of up to 5,000 people. Resilience is a concept used to describe how to make water systems more robust in terms of water availability, thereby reducing the vulnerability of people that rely on them.

Main content

Both technical and non-technical components are important in discussing how to make water systems resilient. In many cases, it is not technical issues which cause projects to become unsustainable, but non-technical issues such as management, social relationships and community dynamics. A useful model to use is the FIETS model, which covers five dimensions of sustainability: Financial, Institutional, Environmental, Technical, and Social.

Technical measures

The technical measures to consider while planning a project can be divided into three types:

Non-technical measures

  • Financial & economic solutions - e.g. availability of micro-finance to users to replicate technology
  • Institutional solutions - e.g. establishment of effective water user associations to manage communal facilities
  • Environmental solutions - e.g. siting of seasonal water points in relation to pasture availability in pastoral areas
  • Social solutions - e.g. changing behavior in water use, use of communal sources, etc.