Rural Evidence and Learning for Water (REAL-Water)

REAL-Water will support policymakers, development partners, and service providers to make strategic decisions and implement best practices for water management through implementation research. It will also ensure coordination with USAID programs contributing to the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) and Water Resources Management (WRM) knowledge base, in alignment with the USAID Water for the World Implementation Research Agenda.

REAL-Water will support policymakers, development partners, and service providers to make strategic decisions and implement best practices for water management through implementation research. It will also ensure coordination with USAID programs contributing to the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) and Water Resources Management (WRM) knowledge base, in alignment with the USAID Water for the World Implementation Research Agenda.

REAL-Water is an initiative of the Center for Water Security, Sanitation and Hygiene in USAID’s Bureau for Resilience and Food Security with support from the Office for Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition in USAID’s Bureau for Global Health.

Kabarole, Uganda

USAID cooperative agreement with Aquaya (2021-2026):

  • Implementation research that applies scientific methods, international collaboration, and rigorous analyses.
  • Evidence for decision-making by national policymakers and government officials, development partners, and public and private sector service providers.
  • Coordination and collaboration with related programs that are contributing to the WASH knowledge base.

Focal Areas

REAL-Water Research Questions

REAL-Water is an implementation research program dedicated to three important and interrelated aspects of rural water supply development:

  1. WATER PROVIDER PERFORMANCE

    • How do management structures, management practices, and local contextual factors influence the performance of rural water service providers?
    • How can targeted efforts improve the management and performance of rural water service providers?
  2. WATER SAFETY

    • How effectively can existing professional water quality laboratories expand their water testing services to rural water supplies?
    • To what extent does water quality data trigger improvements in water treatment, consumer satisfaction, and sustainable water safety management practices?
    • Are Water Safety Plans effective forms of risk mitigation for rural water supplies in low-resource settings?
  3. WATER RESOURCES

    • To what degree is source diversification occurring in rural areas to respond to decreasing water availability and threats to water quality?
    • How is holistic water resources planning, at scales relevant to rural water service authorities, being implemented in practice?
    • How does the introduction of on-premises piped water supply change household water use and demand, and what effects to these changes have on water services?

Kabarole, Uganda

Blog

Podcast

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Resources

A Rural Water Innovation and its Ripple Effect: Informal Water Operators Ready to Embrace Clean Water A Rural Water Innovation and its Ripple Effect: Informal Water Operators Ready to Embrace Clean Water
Blog

Bono and Ahafo Region, Ghana — What happens when the paradigm changes from “water is life” to “safe water is life?” Although subtle, the shift toward ensuring the safety and quality of drinking water supplies has implications for viability of water…
USAID REAL-Water Explores the Impact of the Water Quality Assurance Fund on Ghana's Water Sector Formalization USAID REAL-Water Explores the Impact of the Water Quality Assurance Fund on Ghana's Water Sector Formalization
Article

Bono and Ahafo Region, Ghana — Ensuring the safety and quality of drinking water supplies is a pressing concern for public health. While urban areas often benefit from established procedures for water quality monitoring, rural regions frequently…
Integrated District-level Water Quality and Scarcity Estimates for India Integrated District-level Water Quality and Scarcity Estimates for India
Dataset

USAID’s REAL-Water has compiled a rich spatially explicit dataset of water quality and scarcity parameters for India to assist decision-makers and researchers in understanding the distribution of water resource risks across the country. Pulling…
Professionalizing Rural Water Desk Study Professionalizing Rural Water Desk Study
Literature Review

USAID’s REAL-Water Activity conducted a desk study from December 2021–March 2022 to identify the available evidence and knowledge gaps related to the professionalization of rural water supply and to inform research plans. The objectives of the desk…
Evaluating Water Quality Assurance Funds In Ghana: Baseline Assessment Evaluating Water Quality Assurance Funds In Ghana: Baseline Assessment
Program Report

This report, developed by USAID/REAL-Water, summarizes baseline data collected before the launch of a two-year impact evaluation of the Water Quality Assurance Fund implementation model. This evaluation consists of a randomized stepped-wedge trial,…
Planning for India's Rural Drinking Water in the Jal Jeevan Mission Era Planning for India's Rural Drinking Water in the Jal Jeevan Mission Era
Technical Report

The rural drinking water sector in India is undergoing rapid changes driven by a $45-billion nationwide program called the Jal Jeevan Mission, committed to providing household tap connections to all rural households by the year 2024. It is…

Kabarole, Uganda

Partners

Aquaya Logo

Aquaya is an independent, nonprofit research organization dedicated to building the evidence base that guides WASH decision-making for international development. Founded in 2005, Aquaya conducts implementation research across an array of rural and urban WASH priorities.

Aguaconsult Logo

Aguaconsult is a UK-based consulting company founded in 2003 to support public and private sector organizations to improve water, sanitation, and environmental services globally. It is recognized as a global thought-leader in the field of rural water service delivery.

ISF Logo

The Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), established in 1997, is an independent research institute within the University of Technology Sydney. ISF conducts transdisciplinary, project-based research in line with their vision of creating positive change towards sustainable futures.

KNUST logo

The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has a strategic mandate to provide higher education, undertake research,disseminate knowledge, and foster relationships with external individuals and institutions in Ghana. Its Regional Water and Environmental Sanitation Center Kumasi (RWESCK) is one of the university’s centers of excellence.

 

Skat Foundation Logo

The Skat Foundation is based in Switzerland and hosts the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN), a global network of more than 13,000 water professionals in 168 countries. Since 1992, the network has been a trusted knowledge hub and expertise platform on practical planning, implementation, research, and innovation.

Safe Water Network Logo

Safe Water Network is a nonprofit organization seeking to advance the scale and impact of decentralized local market-based solutions as a safe water solution for low-income populations in emerging economies. Since 2006, it has provided expertise to governments, partners, and local communities in Ghana and Indiato demonstrate successful small water enterprise approaches.

Water Mission Logo

Water Mission is a Christian engineering nonprofit organization that builds safe WASH solutions in developing countries and disaster areas. Since 2001, Water Mission has served more than seven million people in 57 countries through 2,800 rural safe water and sanitation projects.

Hydroconseil Logo

Hydroconseil is a French consulting firm created in 1995 that specializes in improving essential public services for low-income populations in emerging and developing countries. Under REAL-Water, Hydroconseil supports the project buy-in from the USAID/Madagascar Mission "Southern Madagascar Water Assessment: Coordinating data and action for sustainable development of water resources in the arid south of Madagascar."

Johns Hopkins University Logo

Johns Hopkins University is America’s first research university, founded on the principle that by pursuing big ideas and sharing what we learn, we can make the world a better place. For more than 140 years, our faculty and students have worked side by side in pursuit of discoveries that improve lives. REAL-Water partners at the Morton K. Blaustein Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences work in a tireless pursuit of discovery, continuing our founding mission to bring knowledge to the world.

Countries

Countries

ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS

Jorge Alvarez - Sala

WASH Specialist, UNICEF

Katrina Charles

Professor of Environmental Health Risks at School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford

Robert Gakubia

Director, Blackburn Associates Ltd., and former CEO of Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB) Kenya

 

Brian Hoyer

Chief Water Programs Officer, charity:water

Hubert Jenny

Independent International Consultant, formerly Senior Infrastructure and Investment Specialist at the Green Climate Fund, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and Asian Development Bank

Lillian Idrakua

Commissioner, Ministry of Water and Environment, Uganda

 

Maren Huevels

Advisor Water Governance, Sustainable Sanitation, and Gender GIZ

Satoshi Ishii

Director, Strategy and Partnerships, Asian Development Bank

Susanna Smets

Senior Regional Water Supply and Sanitation Specialist, World Bank