Groundwater Risk Management for Growth and Development

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Smith School of Enterprise and the Env


Improved understanding of groundwater risks and institutional responses against competing growth and development goals is central to accelerating and sustaining Africa's development. Africa's groundwater systems are a critical but poorly understood socio-ecological system. Explosive urban growth, irrigated agricultural expansion, industrial pollution, untapped mineral wealth, rural neglect and environmental risks often converge to increase the complexity and urgency of governance challenges across Africa's groundwater systems. These Africa-wide opportunities and trade-offs are reflected in Kenya where the government's unifying Vision 2030 aims to double the irrigated agricultural area whilst simultaneously promoting the growth of high-value mineral resources. Institutional capacity to govern interactions between economic activities, water resource demands and poverty outcomes are currently constrained by insufficient knowledge and lack of effective management tools. The overarching project aim is to design, test and transfer a novel, interdisciplinary and replicable Groundwater Risk Management tool to improve governance transformations to balance economic growth, groundwater sustainability and human development trade-offs.

The project will make four major contributions to support interdisciplinary science and governance of managing groundwater risks for growth and development in Africa:
a) An automated, daily monitoring network for shallow groundwater levels - the first system of its kind in the world and replicable at scale.
b) A new Groundwater Risk Management Tool which is transferable and sustainable in Africa.
c) New epidemiological insights into the health impacts of faulty or intermittent water supplies.
d) Improved theory and evidence of groundwater governance and poverty pathways.

Planned Impact

Intended beneficiaries encompass stakeholders from government, enterprise, communities, particularly the poor, women and girls, and the international research and practitioner communities.
a) Kenya
i) Vulnerable rural water users - in the study area there are at least 60,000 rural water users served by the handpump maintenance project (ESRC). The project has three staff including two mechanics who liaise with the communities on a daily and positive basis. Given County Government support at the Ministerial level (Dr Chiguzo) we anticipate and have discussed uptake to all County handpumps (c.600-800) which would at a minimum double the total beneficiaries.

ii) Local water governance - the Water Resources User Association is a key beneficiary institution with linkages to all other WRUAs in Kenya. The project has established working relationships with District Officers (overall, water, health), chiefs, elders, school head teachers, Msambweni hospital and clinics. All are highly supportive of the project including the new County Governor who mentioned the project in his first anniversary address.

iii) Government - the Water Resource Management Authority (WRMA) has indicated the significance, support and scalability of the project in its letter of support. The Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB, responsible for rural and urban water services) works with Oxford/RFL in existing grants and will continue to translate results into national policy. Ministry of Water and Irrigation are also informed of the work. Prof Olago was former President of the Kenyan Geological Society and remains an active member.

iv) Enterprise - Base Titanium Ltd. and KISCOL have indicated their support through data sharing and collaboration. A major project workshop in Nairobi in Year two will convene major enterprises reliant on groundwater from oil and gas, mining and irrigation sectors.

iv) National and International research institutes - led by JKUAT and University of Nairobi the research will benefit the national research community in events and networking through their respective centres, WARREC and ICCA. Further, the team has established and deep relationships with the UN (UNICEF, UNDP), water-focused donors (SIDA, GIZ, DGIS) and the Water and Sanitation Program of the World Bank.

b) International
i) Oxford and UPC will mobilise global science and policy networks through senior staff (Edmunds, Bradley, Hope, Custodio, Carrera). These include IAH, UNESCO-GWADI, UNICEF-WASHnet (global), RWSN, World Bank-WSP, UKGS, etc.

ii) UPGro Knowledge Broker activities, outreach and events will be developed and build on established relationships with RWSN through Hope, which currently includes webinars, D-groups and events linked to his research group.

iii) Enterprise partnerships and collaboration will build on Dr Hope's role in the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. He co-leads the Sharing Resource Prosperity programme with Dr McElroy which has a global extractive industry network, including the International Congress of Mining and Minerals led by Ross Hamilton. This work links to DFID's Africa Extractives Adviser, Grundel Holger, who is aware of the Kwale research following a meeting with Dr Hope in February 2014. More widely, Dr Hope is actively engaged with Diageo, SABMiller and the Coca Cola company, who have major African operations relying on groundwater use.
Description The project is now half way through its four years of work. Key findings to date include:

1. 3 sets of panel data of over 3,000 households are revealing welfare transitions in the county over the period 2014 to 2016. Analysis of 2014-2015 data showed that urban, coastal area are experiencing a sharp dip in welfare whilst there have been increases in welfare north of the mine and sugarcane sites. A paper on this work is in the pipeline.

2. The Groundwater Risk Monitoring Strategy has been progressed via interdisciplinary work blending climate, surface water, groundwater, welfare and health data streams. Local and national partners continue to participate in monitoring activities and plans for the eventual transfer of monitoring to local institutions are underway.

3. Positive responses during collaborative design of the Groundwater Risk Management Tool by local and national partners underline the need for a sustainable financing mechanism for the long term adoption of the tool. The project will support the demand for the research and track the institutional process of the collaborative design over time. Recent stakeholder meetings are clarifying ways in which outputs of the tool could be communicated to different audiences.

4. Aquifer depth monitoring techniques are being advanced as is documented in a recent paper (Colchester et al, 2017).
Exploitation Route Too early to say.
Sectors Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description As the following items show, the Gro for GooD project is establishing itself as an information resource and key partner on water supply issues at the national and county level. - Through a data-sharing agreement with Egis Eau, a French consultancy firm, Gro for GooD is contributing hydrogeological and geophysical data and expertise towards the development of the Kwale County Water Supply Master Plan, part of Kenya Water Security and Climate Resilience Program (Kenyan Government/World Bank). Kenya's national Water Resource Management Authority mentions Gro for GooD as one of WRMA's special projects in the National Water Resources Situation Report for FY2015/2016 indicating the significance of this work at the national level.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Other
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description BBC report on 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Media coverage: Aquifer depth monitoring techniques as documented in a recent paper (Colchester et al, 2017) have received media coverage on the BBC and have also been picked up by the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Gro for GooD Newsletter March 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Gro for GooD newsletter in English and Swahili shared with participants at stakeholder workshop and during liaison with community members on fieldwork and associated activities by local partner organisations. The purpose of the newsletter is to explain the scope and purpose of the project including research activities and local partnerships to the general public and to stakeholder organisations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Gro for GooD Stakeholder Workshop March 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact On 3rd March 2017, the Gro for GooD project held a stakeholder workshop in Ukunda, Kwale County at which local organisations were provided with an update on the monitoring and modelling that will underpin the Groundwater Risk Management Tool, and how the research can contribute to county-wide planning for improved water supplies. Discussions focused on the role that local organisations could play in communicating outputs from the GWRM Tool to local communities and actions that might result from having enhanced information on risks to groundwater.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description WWF Water Stakeholders Platform - 14th & 15th Nov, 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Gro for GooD project participated in WWF Water Stakeholders Platform - 14th & 15th Nov, 2016, which brought together 8 local stakeholder organisations. The goal of participating in this workshop run by WWF was to help create common understanding on water management issues in Kwale in general and Mukurumudzi river catchment in particular
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016