(UNESCO / Japan Young Researchers' fellowships programme)

Water Supply for Low-Income Rural Communities

Summary of research carried out: 
Water Supply for Low-Income Rural Communities

The Gezira Scheme in Sudan is one of the largest irrigated schemes in Africa, and it is managed as one unit (2.2 million ha). In the Gezira scheme, there are more than 1,200 unregistered villages inhabited by agricultural workers who immigrated from western Sudan or neighbouring countries. The majority of them have no adequate source of water supply. These villages have high rates of schistosomiasis infection (more than 50%), due to the use of polluted water from irrigation canals for domestic water supply and daily activities. There is a need to find an appropriate alternative water supply which fits the local circumstances, and this report discusses the possible water supply options for one typical community within the scheme.

The main objective of this study is to suggest options for safe, reliable drinking water through the use of appropriate technology that could easily be operated and maintained by the village community within the Gezira Irrigation Scheme.

Water resources in the scheme are irrigation water, groundwater and rain water. There are no springs or natural surface water resources. The different water sources in the Gezira scheme are hand pumps, house taps or neighbourhood taps connected to small distribution systems, haffir and irrigation canals.

There are considerable interruptions to water supplies for the following reasons:

1/ the water supply institutions have been unable to meet the commitments necessary to maintain functioning of the facilities installed; examples include shortages of fuel, spare parts, technicians and funds needed to maintain and run the services; lack of coordination between the various parties involved in rural water supply;

2/ lack of understanding of the social and economic realities of life at the local level on the part of planners;

3/ the top-down, purely government-initiated approach;

4/ the limited community involvement in the operating and management of the water services.


This report presents different options for water supply. However, other combinations of theses options are also possible.

Option 1/ Pipe connection from a nearby borehole.

Option 2/ Improving water quality in the irrigation canal in the village.

Option 3/ Infiltration Gallery (IFG) on the main irrigation canal.


In designing and building domestic water services, affordability, acceptability and technical appropriateness should also be considered. These different options were analysed in the light of factors such as the initial cost, the operating and management cost, and the yearly costs for each household were compared. The next step is to present the range of water supply options to the village community and the stakeholders.


6 October 2008