1 Introduction

In 2000, the United Nations (UN) adopted a set of Millennium Development Goals to improve the lives of people in the poorest countries by 2015. As of 2015, the UN reported that 91% of the global population had access to an improved drinking water source. As such, about 663 million people (equivalent to 9% of the global population) were still experiencing a lack of improved drinking water sources. The problem with the lack of improved drinking water sources is severe, particularly in sub-Saharan African countries. Only 25% of the population in these countries have access to improved sources of drinking water (UN 2015).

Limited drinking water supply and poverty are closely related in many African countries. Difficulty in securing safe water entails negative impacts on people’s sanitation, health, education, and economic activities. These negative impacts further exacerbate the difficulty in securing safe water. Therefore, low-income people with poor drinking water access in many African countries become trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty and poor drinking water access (Ikemi 2018). The situation is even more dire in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa.

Figure 4.1 shows the accessibility of drinking water in sub-Saharan Africa reported by the UN in 2012. Most of the people living in rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa did not have piped water on premises. More than half of the population living in rural areas used unimproved water sources, a significantly higher ratio compared with urban areas. Regarding this inequality in access to drinking water between rural and urban areas, the main cause was identified as the lack of capability for the sustainable management of water infrastructure, such as water pipes, wells, and reservoirs. Therefore, water infrastructure management is essential for rural development in many African countries (Ikemi 2018).

Fig. 4.1
figure 1

Accessibility to drinking water in sub-Saharan Africa. (© 2012 United Nations. Reprinted from UN (2012: 53) with the permission of the United Nations)

Coping with water and sanitation problems, including water infrastructure management, is an urgent development issue in rural Africa that should be addressed by the global community (Ikemi 2017a). Although many projects and studies have been undertaken on sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene services, only a few could report great achievements (Haq and Cambridge 2012). Ushijima et al. (2015) pointed out the possible reasons for the unsuccessful outcomes of water and sanitation projects as follows: shortage in financial funds, mismatched mechanisms and methods, and lack of understanding of local social and economic conditions. In addition, local residents’ active and voluntary participation is necessary to achieving effective rural development (Chambers 1997). As Chambers (1983) and Ikemi (2017b) emphasized, the success of rural development programs requires professional outsiders, such as researchers and development workers, to seek to understand local residents’ knowledge, experience, customs, and values in their daily lives.

The present study aimed to elucidate the actual situation and outcomes of national policies for the management of sustainable water supply in rural Africa through a case study of Senegal. It also sought to clarify the remaining tasks and hidden problems in the outcomes as well as to identify a possible system of effective water management operated by the local community. This study provides the results of field surveys conducted in villages in Senegal. Overall, the rest of this chapter is organized as follows. In the next section, the conditions of the drinking water supply and national policies on water supply management in Senegal are introduced. Section 4.3 describes the outline of the field surveys. Section 4.4 presents the results of the field surveys in detail. In the final section, the findings based on the survey results are summarized, and conclusions are presented.

2 Drinking Water Conditions and Water Supply Management Policies in Senegal

With respect to the issue of poor water supply conditions in rural Africa, this research examined the possibilities and challenges related to sustainable water supply management through a case study of Senegal. Senegal is one of the lowest income countries in the world. The global gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in 2018 was 11,381 USD (Statista 2020). In Senegal, the GDP per capita was 1441 USD in the same year (IMF 2019). It was the 155th out of 192 countries in terms of GDP per capita, reporting an even lower value than the average of sub-Saharan Africa countries (1589 USD), which are regarded as the poorest countries in the world (World Bank 2020a). Furthermore, Senegal has significant income inequality between urban and rural areas.

In Senegal, especially in rural areas, the lack of water supply facilities and the heavy burden of water drawing labor have been major concerns for national development. The Senegalese government has taken a number of initiatives to cope with these problems. In 2005, the government launched the program called Millennium Drinking Water and Sanitation Program (Programme d’Eau Potable et d’Assainissement du Millénaire: PEPAM) to improve and expand water production and distribution systems (World Bank 2018). PEPAM had set the specific goal of increasing the access rate of drinking water from 64% (in 2004) to 82% by 2015 (Ministère de l’Agriculture et de l’Hydraulique/Ministère de la Prévention, de l’Hygiène Publique et de l’Assainissement 2005). The Senegalese government also prepared the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) for 2006–2010 and Economic and Social Policy Document (Document de Politique Economique et Sociale: DPES) for 2011–2015 (IMF 2007; Ministère de l’Economie et des Finances 2011; WFP 2011). The PRSP approach was first suggested at a joint meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in 1999 for poor countries’ comprehensive development (Marshall and Walters 2011). For both PRSP and DPES, one of the major goals was to expand access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities in urban and rural areas. Regarding access to safe drinking water in Senegal, the IMF (2013) reported as follows: “In fact, for the urban populations, the rate rose from 93% in 2006 to 98.797% in 2011. In rural areas, the rate increased from 69.5% in 2006 to 80.1% in 2011.” Meanwhile, a more recent joint report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO) revealed lower access rates to safe drinking water in both urban and rural areas in Senegal, at 93% and 67%, respectively (UNICEF and WHO 2015).

Even the foreign countries that provide official development assistance (ODA) to Senegal have common concerns about these issues. Japan is one of them. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is the Japanese ODA organization, engaged in grant aid cooperation to improve rural water supply in Senegal for over 30 years, from 1979 to 2012. Through this aid, approximately 120 water supply facilities that could provide safe water to approximately 440,000 people in rural areas were constructed (JICA 2015). As for technical cooperation, JICA carried out Project on the Safe Water and the Support on Community Activities (Projet Eau Potable pour Tous et Appui aux Activités Communautaires: PEPTAC). One of the main objectives of PEPTAC was to support the establishment of “water tower users’ associations” in Senegal (Association des Usagers du Forage: ASUFOR). Through PEPTAC, JICA has cooperated with many established ASUFORs to provide technical support and allow local residents to maintain and manage water supply facilities by themselves (Japan Techno Co. Ltd. 2015). Generally, one ASUFOR is established in each community to which several villages belong. The main task of the ASUFOR is to engage in the activities of water supply management by maintaining its water tower (see Fig. 4.2). According to Hanatani (2016), the ASUFOR is an institutional mechanism for the rural community in Senegal and has been promoted under the water sector reform since 1996 (Sarr 2008; UNDP 2013). The characteristics of ASUFOR are identified as follows: “i) management body having an independent legal status; ii) use of water meters to enable volumetric water tariff system; and iii) increased private sector involvement in management” (Hanatani 2016: 19).

Fig. 4.2
figure 2

Typical water tower maintained by ASUFORs in rural Senegal. (Photo by Ikemi)

3 Outline of Field Survey

3.1 Sites

Senegal (officially, the Republic of Senegal) is a country located in West Africa with a surface area of 196,710 km2 and a population of about 16 million (World Bank 2020b, c). According to a World Bank report (2020d), in Senegal, the proportion of the population under the international poverty line (defined as living with less than 1.9 USD purchasing power parity per day per capita) was 38% in 2011. The report also noted that “460,000 poor people would be added in 2019 to the estimated 5 million poor people in 2011 (63,200 more between 2018 and 2019), due to rapid population growth which has outpaced per capita income growth.” Regarding the country’s rural areas, the percentage of the rural population to the total population was 77% in 1960, and it decreased to 55.8% in 2011 (World Bank 2020e). Thereafter, it continued to decrease to almost half of the total population (52.3%) in 2019. Among them, 58% lived under the standard of the international poverty line, whereas the rate was 12% in the case of the urban population (World Bank 2020d). The data indicate a significant economic disparity between rural and urban areas. The far more serious poverty problem as well as water supply vulnerability in rural areas compared with urban areas may be one of the causes of the continuous rural population outflow into urban areas.

The research site of this study is the Fatick and Kaolack regions, which are located about 150 km southeast of Dakar, the capital of Senegal. The field research was conducted in six villages in the two regions in March 2017 and October 2018. Figure 4.3 shows the map of Senegal and the locations of the six villages of Tewrou Mbéyéne, Mboudaye, Fissel Deux, Fayil, Ourour Sinthiou, and Fass Koffe. The residents living in these six villages have been facing a severe shortage of infrastructure to use improved water sources, similar to the experience of residents of many other West African rural villages (Nyong and Kanaroglou 1999; Pimentel et al. 2004; Snow 2013; Wijk-Sijbesma 1985).

Fig. 4.3
figure 3

Map of Senegal and location of the six villages included in the field research

3.2 Research Methods and Contents

This field research study mainly employed a door-to-door and face-to-face interview survey method. The interview survey was conducted with leaders of each village, representatives of community-based organizations, and other residents. In Senegal, there are generally multiple community-based organizations, including village-level residents’ groups and associations. The most common and typical ones are Economic Interest Groups (Groupement d’Intérêt Économique: GIE) and Women’s Promotion Groups (Groupement de Promotion Féminine: GPF) that are officially recognized by the government. A GIE is a group of residents working to promote their economic activities and improve their income generation (Ikemi 2017b). A GPF is a group organized by women conducting various activities for their income generation, food security, childcare, literacy education, and health and sanitation practices (Ikemi 2011). Participation in these community organizations is a part of their lives, and is often a high priority in their day-to-day efforts. The field surveys targeted the representatives of these community-based organizations as interviewees, because they are well aware of residents’ behavior of water use and various water supply-related issues, such as conditions of water supply facilities in their villages.

The survey questionnaire included the following: (1) the number and condition of water supply facilities; (2) the method of maintenance of water supply facilities; (3) the purpose of water use (e.g., drinking, cooking, bathing, washing, and agriculture); (4) the means of drawing and transporting water; (5) the status of activities by the relevant resident organizations and communities; and (6) the problems or needs for general living conditions, such as regional water infrastructure, health, sanitation, economy, and education. The study also observed water supply–related facilities and infrastructure in each village to grasp the situation, including the management by local residents or the community.

Table 4.1 shows an overview of the field survey results from the six villages.Footnote 1 The living conditions and current situation of water use differed across the villages. For instance, the number of wells varied from 0 (in Fass Koffe) to 27 (in Fayil), and the fee for filtered water use also varied from 150 CFA (in Fass Koffe and Ourour Sinthiou) to 400 CFA (in Fissel Deux) (100 CFA = 0.17 USD, as of 2018).

Table 4.1 Overview of field survey data

4 Field Survey Results

4.1 Piped Water Supply and Water Quality Problem

In terms of the spread of tap water in rural areas, most households in all six villages in this study had a water supply faucet installed. Figure 4.4 shows a typical water supply faucet installed in a household. The residents used tap water by connecting their domestic water faucets to the pipeline connected with a water tower that had been constructed for their community. The water supply tended to be unstable, and the cost of faucet installation was extremely high compared with the average monthly income per capita in rural areas of Senegal. The average cost of domestic faucet installation per household was between 40,000 CFA (about 68 USD) and 65,000 CFA (about 110 USD). Nonetheless, most households had installed domestic faucets to use water at home. This fact indicates a clear achievement of government policy implementation on national development priority issues.

Fig. 4.4
figure 4

Water supply faucet installed in a household of rural villages in Senegal (the left photo was taken in the Fissel Deux village chief’s yard, and the right photo was taken in the Mboudaye village chief’s yard). (Photos by Ikemi)

The installation of domestic water faucets for residents in rural areas does not mean that water was always available in their everyday lives. There were two main reasons for this limitation in water use for residents. First, the water supply from the water tower tank in their community was not stable, as mentioned earlier. Second, the faucet water quality was not good enough to be used for drinking or cooking. Faucet water tended to have a high concentration of fluorine, and as such, well water was preferred for drinking in every village. Although preferable for its lower concentration of fluorine, well water also had hygienic safety issues. Generally, before using well water for drinking purposes, the residents had to disinfect it by treating with sodium hypochlorite. During the field research, there were no reports of health problems caused by drinking treated well water. Most of the residents also said that well water tastes good. However, for drinking tap water, some cases of health problems were reported. According to the Mboudaye village chief, when his daughter returned home after staying outside of the village for a long time, she often drank tap water at home. About 2 days later, she started to have a headache and her legs were hurting so much. Until she stopped drinking tap water, the severe pain lasted such that she could not walk. In Fissel Deux, residents were aware that continuous drinking of tap water would cause adverse health effects, such as dental fluorosis, skin pain, and weakness of the bones and muscles from the excess fluoride in the tap water.

4.2 Difficulty in Obtaining Water

Well water is also crucial for the agricultural livelihood of residents in the rural areas of Senegal. Collecting water from a well was reported as troublesome in some villages because of the large depth of some wells. In Tewrou Mbéyéne, there was only one well, and it was 45 m deep. The residents had relied on the well as an important water source for not only drinking but also for crop production. To draw water from this deep well, the residents usually used a donkey and a long rope attached to a bucket (see Fig. 4.5). This traditional method of drawing well water had been practiced in the village for a long time. They had a mechanical water pump that had broken down and never been repaired or replaced owing to budget constraints. The cost of repairing or replacing the pump was simply too much burden to the residents. As shown in Fig. 4.5, the 45 m deep well, the only one in Tewrou Mbéyéne, does not allow the residents to draw water without any support from an animal or a motor engine. It is an urgent task to reduce the burden of drawing well water for the residents in rural areas of Senegal, as the case of Tewrou Mbéyéne highlights. The expansion of water supply facilities, and their sustainable management, will have large impacts for the residents and their communities.

Fig. 4.5
figure 5

Traditional mechanism of drawing water from a 45-m deep well in Tewrou Mbéyéne. (Photos by Ikemi)

Tewrou Mbéyéne participated in a rural development project supported by a Senegalese institution called National Agency for Agricultural and Rural Council (Agence National de Conseiller Agricole et Rurale: ANCAR) from December 2003 to May 2005.Footnote 2 ANCAR carried out a dry-season gardening project to improve the villagers’ nutrition and cash income for the community, mainly targeting the village’s GIE, which had 40 members (17 men and 23 women) in 2017. At the beginning of the project, the local staff of ANCAR conducted a seminar for the resident participants on basic knowledge and technical guidance relevant to vegetable cultivation. After the seminar, the staff demonstrated how to plant a garden, practically making a pilot field with the participants. The area of the field was gradually expanded, with the type of crops grown being increased as well to include tomato, eggplant, and okra. The management and operation of the field were left up to the participants. The local staff visited the village regularly after the seminar to continue their observation and guidance in the field progress made by the participants themselves. Tools, seeds, and fertilizers were provided by the ANCAR, whereas the other expenses and labor force were provided by the village residents. The project had the following results. First, many of the crops withered even before reaching maturity owing to the insufficient water supply, which itself was because of the undeveloped deep well in the village, as explained above. Second, the residents who positively participated in the activity and worked hard for the project were limited to a few people, such as the family of the village chief and the GIE’s president. During the project period, only a few participants put in noticeable efforts, and the group activities of the GIE, a community-based organization, did not seem functional. The necessity of organizational solidarity, and of the role of human resources who possessed leadership skills and influence in the community, was considered to be of great importance. Third, the vegetable crops harvested by the participants were utilized as both food crops and cash crops for the residents of the village. As such, the project implementation could be considered to have led, to some extent, to an improvement in the residents’ cash income and nutrition through their participation in the project development.

Thus, the lack of water supply in the village increased the burden of time and labor for the residents to acquire the amount of water they needed. By implication, this situation could be attributed to a lack of water management and may constitute a limiting factor for improvements in income and sanitation. This situation could also hinder their motivation for positive engagement in the activities of their community-based organizations. Meanwhile, the latest field research showed that the president of the GIE installed and started utilizing a new motor pump with a solar-powered engine. This latest finding indicates the possibility of solving the water supply and management problems of the village in the near future (Ikemi 2017b).

4.3 Water Supply Management by ASUFOR

As mentioned in Sect. 4.2, several villages come together to form a community in their area, and each community has one ASUFOR. The three main tasks of the ASUFOR are to maintain water supply facilities, collect water usage fees, and manage the association’s funds (mostly from the collected water usage fees). Typically, each ASUFOR meets once a month to discuss various issues related to water supply and to collect the water usage fees paid by the residents within the community. During the field research, it was found that not all operations by the ASUFORs lived up to the residents’ expectations. As evaluated by the residents, ASUFOR operations had both satisfactory and unsatisfactory cases. The satisfactory case of Fass Koffe (the ASUFOR of Fass community) is introduced first, followed by the unsatisfactory cases of Mboudaye and Tewrou Mbéyéne (the ASUFOR of Ouadiour community).

The ASUFOR of Fass community (hereafter, Fass-ASUFOR), to which Fass Koffe belongs, had regular monthly meetings and collected water charges. The raised funds were used to purchase a water purification device with a reverse osmosis membrane filter, after a transparent discussion and agreement with the residents. Figure 4.6 shows the device and a 20-L plastic container filled with filtered water by the device. The filtered water was sold at 150 CFA (about 0.25 USD) per 20 L. The average daily sales of filtered water reached about 10,000 CFA, equivalent to two tons of purified water produced by the device. The biggest reason for the sale of so much purified water was the residents’ strong distrust of the tap water in their homes. Although the residents did not have much financial leeway and the place where they could buy the purified water was a little far from their houses, they were willing to travel and pay for safe drinking water. The residents positively assessed the operation by the Fass-ASUFOR according to the following three perspectives. The first perspective was that the ASUFOR provided safe drinking water, which the residents always needed for their health in everyday life. Second, the ASUFOR’s increased funds by selling purified clean water to the residents enabled it to provide a stable and sustainable clean water supply service. Third, all of the participants (representatives of each village) in the regular monthly meeting held by the Fass-ASUFOR were allowed to take part in the decision-making process.

Fig. 4.6
figure 6

Water purification device with a reverse osmosis membrane filter and a 20 L plastic container filled with filtered water for sale. (Photos by Ikemi)

In contrast, the residents in Mboudaye and Tewrou Mbéyéne reported that the operation by the ASUFOR of Ouadiour community (hereafter, Ouadiour-ASUFOR), to which both villages belong, failed to meet their expectations. Like all other ASUFORs, the Ouadiour-ASUFOR has held a meeting every month since being established. Monthly meetings were the only opportunity for all village representatives to discuss water-related issues in their community and monitor the status of the Ouadiour-ASUFOR’s funds. The residents were particularly interested in their ASUFOR’s profits from providing faucet water and its expenses for the maintenance of water supply facilities. Without warning and clear reasons, local administration officials decided to ignore the principle of the ASUFOR’s transparent decision-making process. The regular monthly meetings were no longer held, which prevented the residents from grasping the operational status of their ASUFOR. The decision resulted in mounting complaints from the Ouadiour community residents, who felt they were not receiving enough services from their ASUFOR relative to the fees they paid for their water use. This case implies the importance of transparent decision making and autonomous management by the community.

4.4 Self-Help Efforts for Water Supply Management

The following cases of the residents’ voluntary and proactive efforts were obtained through the interview and observation survey conducted in this study. In Fissel Deux, the residents helped one another by allowing the lending of money from the village’s mutual credit fund, managed by the microfinance institution of Senegal for the development of rural areas, for the installation of water pipes to use tap water at home. Although the villagers’ income level was relatively low, they had been working tirelessly to maintain the funds not only for their village development but also for mutual financial aid among themselves.

The study identified other cases of self-management of water resources in other villages as well. For example, in Fayil, only seven out of 27 wells were used, and most of the seven wells were as shallow as to easily run dry. Moreover, the population of Fayil was the largest among the six villages surveyed in this study (see Table 4.1). As mentioned earlier, residents preferred to use well water for drinking and cooking purposes; however, the amount of available water was too limited to fulfill the demand. The well water shortage problem posed a serious challenge to the village. To confront the challenge, the village enacted the following rules to control the use of well water: (1) limiting each household to only one bucket of water (regardless of size) and (2) restricting the hours for drawing well water (between 7 and 10 am or until the well is empty). The villagers organized a group of seven women living close to each of the seven available wells in the village to ensure compliance with the rules. The group’s main role was to manage the wells and enforce the rules. Each well was covered by an iron grate and locked all day except for the 3 h for drawing water in the morning (see Fig. 4.7). During the dry season in Senegal, the line of villagers waiting to draw water in front of the well is already long even before 7 am. Drawing water often takes an hour or more during the dry season; in other seasons, it does not take that much time. The village’s measures enabled the residents to cope with the problem of well water shortage through their own efforts.

Fig. 4.7
figure 7

Well covered with an iron grate in Fayil. (Photos by Ikemi)

Another example of self-management is that by the residents in Ourour Sintiou. The villagers maintained and repaired nearby wells by themselves. They also shared the cost of purchasing the tools and materials needed for maintaining the wells, such as ropes, cement, and steel slags. Among the total of seven wells in the village, three were closed by the villagers themselves for safety reasons (mainly poor water quality). According to the villagers, there was an instance in which they closed a well after a domestic animal fell into it. The residents in both Fayil and Ourour Sintiou were actively working to manage well water resources for the sake of sustainable and safe water use. These cases are good examples of the residents’ self-management of water resources, without relying on the support of local bureaucrats or outside sponsors, in rural areas of Senegal.

5 Summary and Conclusions

Various international organizations, including the UN, World Bank, and WHO, have made numerous efforts to expand water supply and sanitation services in rural Africa. They have also published several reports and papers promoting this issue. Governments of African countries have recognized the importance of the issue and have implemented relevant policies. Based on these international efforts, the present study aimed to evaluate and shed light on the outcomes of national policies for improving water supply management in rural Africa. Field surveys were conducted in six villages in rural areas of Senegal. This case study examined the actual conditions of water supply facilities and residents’ water use in the six villages. From the results of the field surveys, this case study also attempted to identify the remaining challenges for sustainable water management by local communities in rural Africa.

In summarizing the findings from the field surveys, the following conclusions can be drawn. First, the Senegalese government has reported significant achievements in expanding water supply facilities and reducing the burden of drawing water from those facilities for rural populations. The government and international organizations have claimed that the implementation of relevant national policies has led to more residents in rural areas being able to access drinking water resources. However, according to the field survey results, the policies for improving access to safe drinking water resources for rural populations in Senegal were not completely successful. Under the national policy of expanding water supply facilities, it is true that most households could have access to tap water. However, a number of villagers reported health issues caused by the unsanitary water from their faucets. Therefore, they still had no choice but to rely on well water for drinking and cooking purposes. As such, the burden of labor from drawing well water was not reduced. The survey results emphasize that improving water quality is as crucial as expanding water supply facilities in rural Africa.

Second, in addition to the water quality problem, many rural residents faced the challenges entailed in the inadequate management of water supply facilities. Despite their poor circumstances, the residents made great efforts to overcome these challenges without relying on the support of local bureaucrats or sponsors outside the village. They helped one another financially through their mutual credit fund for better access to tap water. As for drinking water, they followed their own rules to control the use of well water. They also maintained and repaired nearby wells by themselves, and even shared the cost of maintenance. For the sustainable self-management of water resources in rural Africa, this case study suggests the importance of locals’ transparent management, information sharing, mutual trust, and consideration for their neighbors. Moreover, the rural residents showed great potential to improve their current water environment through their own self-help efforts. Such potential should be considered as crucial to achieve the goal of sustainable water supply management in local communities.

Lastly, a remaining challenge is in sustaining the management of technologies related to water supply in rural Africa. This issue cannot be addressed within an administrative framework or national policy. When introducing technology, it is necessary to make policy decisions and provide administrative financial support that are suitable for the actual conditions of rural areas. When new equipment and technologies are introduced, various forms of social organizations that can function practically are needed, as in the cases of the ASUFORs and GIEs in Senegal.