CJF Update Importance of Data

CJF Update Importance of Data


One of the key factors that
differentiates the Climate Justice Fund’s Water Futures Programme is the central
underpinning of data. The gathering, collating and evaluation of data…about
the number of boreholes their location and their functionality…is the very
foundation to achieving the ultimate goal; supporting the Government of Malawi
to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6. This month
we’ll look at how a team of researchers from the University of Strathclyde
funded by the Scottish Government is helping to gather and analyze this data
that will ultimately shape the plans and activities of Malawi’s water sector for
decades to come. When Hydrogeology expert Professor
Robert Kalin first arrived in Malawi back in 2008 ,it was immediately clear
that residents and the villages of the Chikwawa District suffered from a lack
of reliable water supplies despite the seemingly high number of water points
within the district. So what exactly were the problems? Why were so many boreholes
not functioning or not being used? The country’s water officials lacked the
resources and expertise to provide any answers. But before a plan could be developed
to try and address some of the problems it became clear that there simply wasn’t
enough known about the various water points of the region, so a small team of
researchers set out to begin gathering the data that they needed.iit began with
just a handful of post-graduate students who, as a part of their degree curriculum
in Hydrogeology, would spend six weeks in Malawi gaining practical, hands-on
experience dealing with the real-world situations in some of the remote
villages of the Chikwawa District. But it became clear very early on that
in order to accurately pinpoint and evaluate every water point in this
region efficiently and accurately it was going to require some new thinking. Working together with the Malawi
Government, Water For People, BaseFlow and other regional NGO’s, a search began
for a solution to speed up the data gathering.
It wasn’t until late 2017 that the CJF Water Futures Programme teamed up with m-Water, who had developed a free, online platform that harnesses today’s mobile
phone technology to help map, photograph and evaluate water points from virtually
any location and feed that information to a central database where it is
collated, verified and stored. This new technology is empowering the District
Water Officers themselves, giving them the capability to capture, record and
upload information about their own local water points and feed this data back to
the Ministry for Irrigation and Water Development for verification, on their
mobile phones. John Feighery: “We’re here in Salima working with the Government of Malawi, the Climate Justice Fund supported by the
Scottish Government and administered by Strathclyde University and we’re here
training government workers and NGO workers and how to map water points
maintain a registry of water in water resources for the country and update
them over time so that we can find out the performance of water services over
time. To date more than 48,000 water points have been mapped verified and
assessed in the southern region with less than half of them 48 % being
actually functional another 23 % are in need of substantial repair and
nearly 29% are simply not functional or no longer exist. Now, armed with enough preliminary data
on which to formulate a plan, the Malawi Government is developing a schedule of
water point inspection and evaluation which will be carried out by local Water
District Engineers including detailed tests of each borehole noting flow rates
testing for contaminants and then completely disassembling, inspecting and
assessing every working part of the pump mechanisms and casings with the ultimate
goal of restoring the borehole to its optimum functionality. Jon Rathjen: “We’ve made good
progress we’re at 7 out of 28 Districts through in terms of mapping
and in terms of working with people we’ve got plans to extend beyond that.
We’re building more and more rigour into the program to make it safer and securer.
We want to build confidence in the data we’re generating. We want to build
confidence in the people that are really going to deliver the results in
Malawi. So I see us on that trajectory us is moving along and I’m very confident
that we’ll get there.” Building capacity, creating sustainability investing in the
public sector and advising the private sector; the Climate Justice Fund Water
Futures Programme – helping Malawi achieve the United Nations Sustainable
Development Goals 6 : To ensure availability and sustainable management
of water and sanitation for all by 2030.

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