Using the cows as a form of insurance seems a great idea to me, but how were the running costs (such as petrol) covered? Also where were the cows kept? Surely if they were kept with the water treatment system there was the risk of damage to the system/faecal contamination of water? If kept else where does this lead to extra costs due to having to buy/rent other land?
It's interesting to hear about engineers from the same country being foreign to the local community in the same way that engineers from overseas were. Does anyone else have any examples of this being the case in other parts of the world?
I would also like to ask about Bunclark's paper on rainwater harvesting for poverty reduction: Rainwater harvesting has the potential to improve crop yields, given appropriate soil conditions. But how can we determine if this will lead to greater income? Is there a risk that increasing crop yields will lead to a decrease in local food prices, which may make other local farmers (who do not benefit from the irrigation) poorer? If the system is to be effective at reducing poverty, might it encourage the farming of cash crops such as coffee, perhaps at the expense of food crops, leading to food shortage problems?
With regard to Le Gouais' paper on rural water supply in Benin, it is said that "water is commonly bought at handpumps, tapstands and private water points". I assume these are all forms of extracting groundwater? I was just wondering why there is not more use of river water or rainwater harvesting? I was in Kenya this summer and my experience there was that almost everyone seemed to use rainwater during most of the year, and river water during the very driest months. Might rainwater harvesting be a way for people in Benin to avoid having to pay to use the pumps, or is the rainfall too rare?