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'Webinars', or web-based seminars, are live online sessions. TheWaterChannel webinars are collaborative; the participants are able to communicate and discuss with the resource persons in real-time. They are free and open to all. If you would like to know more, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Date: November 26, 2013
  Watch Recording: High-Quality Flash version 
Watch Recording: Medium Quality Video version
Speakers: Frank van Steenbergen and Ian Neal




  The importance of access to rural poverty is well-known. Poor communities often get restricted to the margins due to lack of good roads that they could take to access public services (health, education, etc), markets and employment opportunities.

The problem of access is often not due the absence of roads, but a lack of maintenance.  Road deterioration is a growing issue in developing countries. It represents enormous costs for public and private bodies in charge of infrastructure, and fall in the value of roads assets.

A large part of the damage to roads is water-related. For example, The World Bank estimates that 35% of all road damage in Ethiopia is caused by run-off. At the same time, roads designed without taking local hydrology and water use into consideration have been known to have damaging effects on the local ecology and water security.

Nevertheless, roads and water are not natural enemies. There are several examples that demonstrate how roads can be designed in ways that slow down runoff, minimize erosion and facilitate groundwater recharge. And many instances of water harvesting structures constructed in ways that improve access for rural communities, protect existing roads and even add to the roads network. (For example, this sand dam in Kenya that acts as a road crossing and source for a water pipeline)

This webinar would attempt to collate a number of such specific examples, and draw some general conclusions that could inform new, sustainable approaches to water harvesting and infrastructure development.

[This webinar follows up from a previous webinar organised by RAIN and RWSN, which initiated a process of increased collaboration within the water (harvesting) sector and increased collaboration between the water sector and other sectors (such as infrastructure). For details, visit www.rain4food.net, and join the Rainwater Harvesting group!]

About the speaker: Ian Neal has been Programme Manager at Excellent Developmentsince 2008. He studied soil and water engineering at Cranfield University. He has worked in international development for 20 years in a variety of technical, managerial and training roles. He has worked in Africa, Central America and the UK for a range of NGOs including Merlin, VSO, MRDF and Engineers Against Poverty before joining Excellent. His recent projects include:
  • Development of  technical manual and training programme on sand dams (2011-13)
  • Understanding the sediment processes of seasonal rivers, a comparative study of rivers in Mtito Andei District, Kenya and Gwanda District, Zimbabwe (2012-13)
  • The potential of sand dam river crossings as a water and transport solution (2012-13) 
  • Understanding the global potential and limitations of sand dams and other in-channel water harvesting technologies (2011-13)

Frank van Steenbergen has worked over the past twenty years in water resource management and policy change – covering water resource management/ IWRM, groundwater management and development, irrigation development,  water harvesting, drainage, drinking water, sanitation and wetlands. He has carried out  his work as an employee of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the International Institute for Aerospace and Earth Sciences, ARCADIS Euroconsult and, as of now, as the Director of MetaMeta .

Frank has been involved in both in on the ground project implementation and the preparation of policy documents such as Framework for Action (Second World Water Forum), Dialogue on Water Governance (Third World Water Forum) and in the ‘Water for Development’ policy document of to the Dutch Parliament and the final document of the Water Sector Task Force of the Friend of Democratic Pakistan 

Related Resources: 



Supported by:  

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