Help develop Dahari – a new NGO promoting sustainable management of natural resources and biodiversity conservation in the Comoros

Would you like to apply your skills and experience to help develop a new and dynamic Comorian NGO?

Dahari was created in February 2013 with a mission to accompany rural communities to improve agricultural revenues and develop the sustainable management of natural resources, for the benefit of people and biodiversity. The new NGO is the fruit of the ECDD project which ran between 2008 and 2013 and is seeking to recruit two key posts at this stage:

Find out more information about the two posts by clicking on the links above, and contact us at ecdd@bcsf.org.uk for more information or to apply. Please also pass this message on to anyone you know who might be interested in applying.

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Understanding the hydrogeology of Anjouan and the impact of deforestation on the availability of water resources

Arnaud Charmoille, PhD in Hydrogeology and volunteer for the NGO AVSF, came to study the groundwater resources of Anjouan and our intervention around the forest area Moya for two weeks during the month of August 2012. The objective of the study was to better understand the problems of deforestation and its impact on the availability of water on the island. The full report (in French) with summary entitled “Outline of the hydrogeological functioning of the island of Anjouan (Comoros): Typology of available water resources and discussion on the impact of deforestation” is available through this link.

In August 2012 Arnaud Charmoille, hydrogeologist and volunteer for the NGO AVSF has collected testimonies, data and field observations on the island of Anjouan to better understand the hydrogeology of Anjouan and the impact of deforestation on the availability of water

In August 2012 Arnaud Charmoille, hydrogeologist and volunteer for the NGO AVSF has collected testimonies, data and field observations on the island of Anjouan to better understand the hydrogeology of Anjouan and the impact of deforestation on the availability of water

As mentioned on several occasions in this blog, the island of Anjouan is facing a supply problem for drinking water and reduction of its surface water resources. Deforestation is systematically evoked to explain the apparent decrease in the flow of rivers, by the public and the various authorities of the island.

My name is Arnaud Charmoille, hydrogeologist and volunteer for the NGO AVSF. I have been sent on this mission to work with the ECDD project to give an opinion on the specific water problematic of Anjouan. The question, the expectations of the population, being the first to do this kind of work in Anjouan were prime motivating factors to carry out this mission.
My work began with a visit to Anjouan in August 2012, I collected testimonies from the different water actors and collected data and field observations. These data were hydrological, hydrogeological, geological, hydrochemical, geomorphological and geographical.

This visit was followed by a major work of interpretation of the acquired data and observations in the field. In particular, I compared the results with data available in the literature dealing with volcanic islands that are contextually approaching the island of Anjouan.

Example of analysis of hydrochemical results. Samples are represented depending of their sodium and chloride concentration. This kind of graph allows the differentiation of shallow aquifers from deep aquifers.

Example of analysis of hydrochemical results. Samples are represented depending of their sodium and chloride concentration. This kind of graph allows the differentiation of shallow aquifers from deep aquifers.

This analysis allowed me to draw a diagram of the hydrogeological and hydrological functioning of the island. Once this was done I could analyze how the deforestation could have an impact on the water resources of the island.

A cloud forest in Anjouan.  This forest type is formed on the peaks, slopes and ridges, the reliefs are often bathed in fog

A cloud forest in Anjouan.
This forest type is formed on the peaks, slopes and ridges, the reliefs are often bathed in fog

Originally, a part of the Anjouan natural forest is a forest type “cloud forest”. This forest type is formed on the peaks, slopes and ridges and is often bathed in fog. In these forest types, specific plant species develop that are capable of capturing the fog droplets. This phenomenon is frequently observed on islands of small area and high relief which is the case on the island of Anjouan. In tropical region, the provision of additional water produced by cloud forests increases the amount of water available for infiltration and maintains high flows during the dry season. This ecosystem also prevents flood during rainy season, two points that are currently lacking on the island of Anjouan!

Impact of cloud forest mutation and disparition on hydrogeological cycle (Foster, 2001)

Impact of cloud forest mutation and disparition on hydrogeological cycle (Foster, 2001)

At the isle of Anjouan deforestation, except in some areas, has completely removed the original vegetation cover; part of the cloud forest has been transformed into a habitat consisting of species introduced by man as coconuts, clove, banana, etc. However even if there is a certain vegetation cover, these introduced species do not exhibit a good intercept of fog droplets. There is no provision of intercepted additional water by the fog. Groundwater that feed streams is therefore seeing its rate decrease significantly during dry season. Considering that the majority of primary forest has disappeared, we can imagine that the situation is being stabilized…

These findings, which are the result of the early work of this type carried out on the island, must of course be supplemented by work and further investigations.

Although a reduction in the flow of streams exists and can be attributed to deforestation, it seems, however, from the results and observations made during this mission that water resources are sufficient for Anjouan. It looks more that the provision to the population is a real problem. In the future it will be hard to envisage that if the population continues to grow, to limit the water distribution system in catchments such gravity. Exploitation of groundwater seems inevitable in certain sectors of the island that are provided with little surface water.

Finally, I wish to thank all people, which directly or indirectly helped me to carry out this mission. Special thanks to the ECDD project team that left me with unforgettable memories of the island!

For those interested in reading the article (in French), you can download it here.

Rehabilitating water infrastructure in the villages of intervention

On February 20th 2013 we celebrated the end of the the project to improve the water infrastructure in the village of Kowe. Approximately 130 people attended the celebration, which shows the enthusiasm of the villagers, who praised expressed their delight at finally having access to water all day long and all year round.

Environ 130 personnes étaient présentes à la Fête de l'Eau à Kowé le 20 janvier 2012. La fête clotûre les travaux des infrastructures en eau dans le village.

Approximately 130 people attended the celebration of the water in Kowé, which marks the end of rehabilitation of water infrastructures in the village.

Between 2011 and 2012, the ECDD project has supported rehabilitation of water supply infrastructure in five villages . This activity has two main aims: firstly to improve the water supply for more than 5000 people, thus also significantly reducing the time required for fetching water, especially for women and children. And secondly, ECDD wanted to develop a model for community-led development projects implemented by the villagers working together without pay, a model that ensures better durability of activities and promotes a sense of ownership for the end-users.

Water issues

Les réseaux d’adduction d’eau sont anciens et très dégradés, qui résulte à une perte considérable d’eau. Sur la photo: captage d'eau détruit à Ouzini

Water supply networks are very old and degraded, resulting in a considerable loss of water. In this picture:: a destroyed water capture at the village of Ouzini

The issue of water is one of the leading concerns for Anjouan villagers. The water levels have been in decline for the last 40 years, linked to huge levels of deforestaion, and thirty permanent rivers have become intermittent. And in most of our intervention villages water supply networks (are very old and degraded, resulting in loss of a considerable percentage of the water that enters the pipes.

In addition, since these facilities were built more than 20 years ago, they are no longer suited to the needs of the growing population. Population density on the island is close to 594 inhabitants per km ² and is still growing today. This demographic pressure weighs hard on the already scare natural water resources.

Les infrastructures en eau ne sont plus adaptées aux besoins de la population croissante.

Water infrastructures are no longer suited to the needs of the growing population.

The people of Anjouan are thus facing a dual challenge: a water resource that is becoming scarcer, and an increasing number of users of that resource.

Community management

The first step was to clearly identify the priorities for each village, completed thanks to studies carried out by our partner l’Union des Comités de l’Eau d’Anjouan (UCEA).

Un projet communautaire: impulsé et porté par la demande et le travail collectif non rémunéré des villageois. Sur la photo: Atelier participatif du Comité d'Eau à Nindri

Community project: initiated and driven by the demand and collective unpaid work of the villagers. In this picture: Participatory workshop of the Water Committee of Nindri

ECDD then engaged to support the villagers to rehabilitate their water infrastructures.
The support consisted in strengthening already existing water management committees in budgeting and business planning, and in mobilising the villagers. In addition, the project allocated 2000 euro for each village for the purchase of equipment and the provision of services for labor. For their part, villagers, participated with in-kind contributions and labor and a contribution of 100 KMF for each household, symbolising the commitment of each.

For the village of Kowe, given the importance of the work to execute, the motivation of the community, and a gift from the governor of Anjouan, the Community contribution reached the sum of 1,000,000 KMF (2000 €), and the project in consequence invested further resources. For more information on the work on the Kowe infrastructure, please have a look at a former blog

Rehabilitation works

Rehabilitation works in the five villages were completed by the end of last year 2012.

Borne fontaine à Salamani après les travaux

Water fountain after the works in Salamani

In the village of Nindri, the water capture infrastructure had not been maintained since its construction so a complete rehabilitation of the catchment was necessary,. In the village of Salamani, the work was concentrated on repairing leaks and constructing public standpipes in each neighborhood. In Outsa a new water capture system was constructed in order to increase the capacity of water supply to the village, and in additionnew water fountains were built for each neighbourhood.

Captage d'eau à Ouzini après travaux

Water capture in Ouzini after works

Several activities were needed in the village of Ouzini given the state of degradation of the water capture unit at Magouni,. Namely, dredging and trenching, repainting of inner and outer coatings, construction of a retaining wall and installation of a fence and a hatch to Block the leaves and other materials carried by the river. Finally, at Kowe work consisted in replacing in the network of galvanized pipes which had become completely rusted.

Reflections and ideas for the future

Although it is too early to fully assess the impact of the work, the first echoes from the communities are very positive. They highlight that water is available in the villages throughout the year, waiting time in front of water fountains has decreased, and water collection distances have been reduced. The villagers can therefore take advantage of this saved time to invest in other activities, which implies an improvement in their living conditions..

Kowé après travaux

Fountain at Kowe after works

This first phase of supporting communities forcollective work also helped to better understand the mechanisms of organization and functioning of village water committees and to better identify the support and guidance needed.

The project is very happy with these results and is currently in full reflection with water committees to develop more activities, based on a model of ownership of small projects, and towards the participatory planning of landscape management – something extremely complicated in the Comoros context