GEF SGP Project Finalists for Kyoto World Water Grand Prize

March 16, 2009


Two Community Water Initiative projects (implemented by GEF-SGP with UNDP and SIDA co-financing) entered the top 10 finalists for the Kyoto World Water Grand Prize ( 


The two top 10 finalist projects will defend the projects in front of a panel of international judges and compete for the Kyoto Prize on 21 March 2009 in Istanbul.


Two other projects entered the top 30 finalists:



Ground Water Quality Improvement through Ecosystem Management, Sri Lanka

The Kalpitiya Peninsula is located on the west coast of Sri Lanka.  The leaching of agrochemicals into ground water had a significant impact on ground water quality. This has led to farm and domestic wells being contaminated with nitrates from the continuous and liberal use of chemical fertilizers.  The implications of nitrate contamination of ground water on human health include the incidence of methaeglobinaemia and gastro intestinal cancers.


The community water project aimed to mitigate the root cause of the problem that lay in the prevailing unsustainable land management practices. It sought to promote organic agriculture and the planting of diverse tree crops in 18 selected home gardens. The landscape design of the model well area involved three main aspects: Bioremediation, Production and Fence areas.


Bioremediation.  The immediate area around wells was planted with several deep rooted, mostly native species of trees that had long and short growth cycles. They were planted in a dense manner so as to form a ‘root mat’ below the surface. The main objective was to facilitate the uptake of the contaminants by the roots of the trees. The species used were Terminalia, Madhuca, Manilkara, Diospyros, Berrya and Pongamia among many others.  The process of microbial remediation required that large quantities of organic matter be added to the sandy soil since a carbon rich environment was mandatory for the process of denitrification to occur. Initially coconut peat and straw were added. As the trees and shrubs grew the organic content required was provided through leaf fall and detritus. 


The Fence area was developed using several species that could withstand the salt laden sea breeze and serve as wind breaks. Trees like Barringtonia, Casuarina and Pisonia were planted.  The surrounding area was developed as a production area where both perennial and annual crops were grown using organic cultivation regimes. Nearly eight thousand plants belonging to fifty four species were planted in home gardens, around public wells and aside the lagoon. Most gardens began to reap harvests for domestic consumption thus increasing food availability and diversity.


The native trees established around the wells displayed fast growth rates. This was evident in the increase in shade conditions where overall, the canopy closure increased to 20% in the two year period. This meant that habitat conditions were being established since already the frequency of birds and butterflies began to increase.  Concurrent with the growth of the trees was the reduction of contaminant like nitrate, nitrite and iron. The efficacy of bioremediation was evaluated by conducting tests on the water from the wells that were subject to bioremediation. The Regional Laboratory of the National Water Supply and Drainage Board conducted tests for water potability using the WHO Standards.  The results of the tests reveal that the water is now potable.


The technique of bioremediation involves the restoration of vegetation around drinking water wells. It is low cost, located in the beneficiary lands and will endure for as long as the beneficiaries do not cut down the planted trees. The type of restoration will, in addition to cleaning the well water, provide an income, food, medicine, fuel wood and a host of other benefits. It will also increase the habitat for biodiversity.


The local government authority in Kalpitiya requested for an extension of the work to other areas in the peninsula, which is a singular sign of success in terms of its replicability.



Recycling of Waster Water for Paddy Irrigation Farming as Community Response to Shortage of Freshwater Resources due to Climate Change in Moshi, Tanzania


One of the effects of climate change is reduced rainfall, which compromise water flows leading to water scarcity. In Kilimanjaro region, north of Tanzania at the foot of Africa’s highest Mountain - the Kilimanjaro, this effect is real and visible.  Farmers are experiencing reduced flows of freshwater to their farms.  In turn, this is affecting agricultural production and food security.  Results of water scarcity in Kilimanjaro region are far and wide. There are sharp decreases in agricultural production and food intake; low agricultural incomes and loss of employment opportunities. On several occasions, conflicts occur as farmers compete for meager water resources for irrigation.


The project on recycling waste water for irrigation farming was established in response to aforementioned problems. The primary goal of this project is to increase availability of water for irrigation farming through recycling of waste water from Municipal oxidation ponds. Other objectives include:


(i) increased paddy production for household food security and income


(ii) reduced community conflicts that are associated with water rationing by increasing volume of water supply


(iii) demonstrating the technology of recycling waste water for irrigation


(iv) promoting environmental sanitation through safe disposal of municipal liquid waste


(v) enhancing cooperation between local Government authorities and grassroots communities


Project implementation involved the following key components


(i) treating of waste water through waste water stabilization ponds


(ii) releasing treated waste water from maturation ponds through trapezoidal channels to farmlands


(iii) clearing and demarcating farm plots for new farms


(iv) changing the mindset of farmers on the suitability of odorless waste water for agricultural production


(v) Setting up of farmers association, complete with leadership structures for aggressive market access


To date the project stands as a best practice for sustainable development in Tanzania showcasing the following five results:


(1) demonstrates that waste water can be recycled for productive use


(2) Irrigation produces two harvests per year, which has achieved food security and reduced income poverty at household level for a total of 80 farmers


(3) No fertilizer is used because nitrates and phosphates embedded in waste water provides nutrients for agricultural production. Non use of conventional fertilizers has decreased cost of production by 40%


(4) Conflict for fresh water for irrigation is history


(5) cooperation between scientists and farmers on one hand and local government and farmers on the other hand has improved


(6) Study visits are conducted by various stakeholders with a view to replicating the project in other areas.






Sustainable land management and water supply, Ghana


Zukpuri is a rural traditional area in the Nadowli District of the Upper West Region made up of six sub-communities,with a total population of 3,200. The community had poor access to potable water supply and very low sanitation conditions. Women and children spent the four hours daily fetching water from Black Volta (about three kilometers away) for domestic use. Poor water and sanitation situation directly threatened people’s health by generating common diseases including diarrhea, dysentery, and stomach disorders and guinea worm. The area was identified as one of the high guinea worm infested areas in the Upper West region.


The project has introduced the construction of low-cost and affordable technologies in the provision of potable water supply and the management and delivery of water facility all year round in the area.  Five hectares of degraded riverine forest has been created and enriched with indigenous species to protect the spring water used by people.  A management committee has been established to sustainably manage the water and natural resources.


As a result of the project, potable water has been supplied to community people, and the overall health condition improved for community people.  Women have more time to engage in livelihood activities.  Women engaged in shea butter processing now have access to potable water that is also used to improve on the quality of the shea butter to meet export demand






Supplying drinkable water, adapting to climate change, Mauritania


Like in many rural areas of Mauritania, the areas surrounding Magta Lahjar (Mauritania) were facing a serious problem of access to drinking water. People used surface water from rainfall months from July to September.  Water was collected without any precautionary hygiene processing.  Wells built for supply water populations dry up from the month of March each year. This resulted in the displacement of indigenous people to major urban centers leaving everything behind. 


Local communities were much dependent on the raining season and stable rainfall during certain periods of the year.  With increased climate variability, local community was more vulnerable to water shortage, threatening people’s basic needs of water and negatively impacting agricultural productivity.  To help resolve water scarcity and sanitation problem, a community water initiative project of $10,000 dollars was launched in 2006. The main activities of the project include:


  • set up land dikes in order to retain surface water
  • recharged groundwater in the area to limit the drying up of wells between March and July 
  • improved water management for rain-fed agriculture
  • dug wells to meet hygiene standards of potable water to community people 
  • organized sessions to raise public awareness on hygiene and sanitation
  • distributed filters at  household level to reduce waterborne diseases observed in the area


Today, thanks to the community water project, local people are established in their campgrounds with drinking water, children with access to education.  Most families have built their own dikes for agricultural management.  Public dams and wells are maintained by the whole community.  Community people not only have stable access to potable drinking water during the entire period of the year, but only increased the agricultural production.  It is estimated that most families doubled their agricultural production. There is also an agricultural diversification through introduction of corn crops.


For further details please contact: Mr.Delfin Ganapin, Global Small Grants Program Manager at: