Optimizing Road Development for Groundwater Recharge and Retention

Lead Research Organisation: MetaMeta
Department Name: MetaMeta Research

Abstract

The research project 'Optimizing Road Development for Groundwater Recharge and Retention' investigates how the fast growing road development programs in Sub-Saharan Africa can become 'inclusive' by securing, and where possible improving, the groundwater sources of the poor.

Roads have a major but little researched impact on hydrology and local groundwater availability. The aim of the project is to optimize the planning and design of roads in rural areas for the recharge and retention of groundwater, thus contributing to secure and equitable use of shallow groundwater. This should contribute to better water buffering in view of climate variability (and changes therein) and lead to poverty reduction and socio-economic development (groundwater is important to agricultural production/irrigation as well as for drinking water supply). The volume of road building in Africa is enormous and combining road building in rural areas with managed groundwater recharge can have a major impact on secure shallow groundwater supply at no or low additional cost. The research will take place in rural Ethiopia.

The specific research questions concern both social and technical issues: (1) how do on-going road programs impact groundwater recharge and retention; (2) how does the current process of road design affect multi-functionality, equity and targeted poverty alleviation (3) what technical improvements can be incorporated in road design that will help to optimize the impact with respect to local groundwater recharge and retention and (4) how can the process of road development and design be modified so as to be inclusive.
The research will try to identify opportunities to augment the availability of shallow groundwater; these could include for instance: (1) taking on-board local women's and men's perspectives/ experiences of roads and their impacts on groundwater (2) carefully planning road alignments, affecting the speed of surface run-off as well at the routing of run-off towards specific infiltration/recharge areas (3) planning cross drainage to impede and direct run-off to recharge zones and on the downstream side of the road prevent gullying; (4) rethinking road foundation/compaction so as not to interfere with the base-flow to shallow wells; (5) considering the use of the concentrated runoff from the road surfaces to recharge and retention areas, including small recharge ponds and (6) carefully constructing road crossings through low causeways or Irish bridges in dry river beds so that they retain groundwater upstream of the road crossing and increase bank infiltration, serving as proxy sand dams; (7) systematically using excavation ponds as recharge ponds and (8) spring capture where roads are made in deep cut. Optimized designs can particularly improve the availability of very shallow groundwater within the suction depth of low cost pumps (less than 7-10 meter). More secure water availability here makes it possible to support local productive and consumptive uses by small farmers.

The project is expected to result in recommendations on improved inclusive road development planning procedures (incl. community engagement) - set within the Ethiopian political and institutional context - and suggestions for innovative designs which can be included in existing manuals on Road Design. The research plan in summary is: (a) literature review and scoping studies with the main stakeholders including the communities living in the vicinity of the roads; (b) field research in six location along two road stretches; (c) systematic interaction with the implementing organizations through workshops, reviews and joint presentations throughout the project and (d) dissemination of results.

The project is implemented by MetaMeta Research having the overall lead and will look into groundwater management & engineering; Institute of Development Studies into social science & inclusive processes and Mekelle University at hydrogeology & field research.

Planned Impact

The potential impact and value for money of the research under 'Optimizing Road Development for Groundwater Recharge and Retention' research project is high, as the roads can be used to recharge groundwater and retain high groundwater tables; hence no separate infrastructural investments are required to replenish groundwater. The now often erratic negative effects of road building on local groundwater availability and local livelihoods may be turned around from a problem to a main benefit. Cost of water-related damage, a major budget factor, is likely to be reduced as well.

At academic level the research will contribute to (1) discussion on the multi-functionality of roads and the importance of inclusive planning processes, particularly related to the effect on groundwater availability and (2) better understanding of the varied physical impacts of road design on groundwater recharge and retention.

Prime beneficiaries will be poor smallholder farmers of the roadside communities, currently faced with negative effects and lost positive opportunities for safeguarding groundwater recharge. Together with local government representatives, they will be involved in the research and may benefit from modification and innovation to the systems. Benefits include improved irrigation possibilities and agricultural production, but also secure drinking water supply, gender and health benefits. It is expected that several findings can be relatively rapidly up-scaled in road building programs and so the direct beneficiaries will extend to other communities along newly developed roads at least in Ethiopia, but in future programs in other African countries as well.

The second target group are the professionals/decision makers expected to make use of the new knowledge from the research: those that are very much responsible for water management and road building - in particular those responsible planning and funding road construction (Ethiopian Roads Authority), design of roads (Transport Construction Design Share Company), road contractors (such as COWI and Saba) and water management institutions (Ministry of Water and Regional Water Bureaus in Tigray and Oromya). Several of these are confirmed partners in the research (letters by Ministry of Water and Energy, Tigray Construction Road and Transport Bureau, Tigray Bureau of Water Resources, Oromya Water Mine and Energy Bureau) and will share data, take part in project meetings and review the outcomes. In joint stakeholders meetings, the aim is also to bridge the gap between these communities of practice.

By working with implementing partners in Tigray and Oromyia region as well at Federal Level we expect that it is not unrealistic to come to plans that would make at least 30% of the newly constructed roads water and poverty/gender sensitive in the coming five years. The project is expected to result in recommendations on improved inclusive road development planning procedures (incl. community engagement) - set within the Ethiopian political and institutional context - and suggestions for innovative designs which can be included in existing manuals on Road Design.

In the research program a number of activities are specifically undertaken to achieve impact
- Working with local communities and local (woreda and kebelle) governments
- Working with relevant partner organizations and stakeholders in Ethiopia
- Producing specific implementable outputs
- Production of academic papers as well as broader dissemination activities.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Banner for final workshop 
Description The partners designed a self-standing banner that was brought to the final stakeholder workshop. Five banners have been distributed to: - Tigray Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development - Tigray Bureau of Water Resources, Mines and Energy - Tigray Bureau of Road Construction - Mekelle University - REST (Relief Society of Tigray) - a regional NGO 
Type Of Art Image 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact The main objective of the banner is to disseminate the concept of Water harvesting from Roads. By giving a banner to the main partners, we make sure that colleagues from the same institutions are aware of the potential of rain water harvesting, its benefits and some of the techniques. 
 
Title Video: Roads for water 
Description In this presentation Dr. Kifle Woldearagay from Mekelle University in Ethiopia explains how proper planning of roads can benefit water supply and reduce erosion. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact Dissemination of the concept of Road water harvesting 
URL http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/media-gallery/5921-roads-for-water-a-presentation
 
Description Thanks to this research, we have been able to study the potential of groundwater recharge and retention from road run-off. The results have shown an important increase in shallow groundwater levels in the study areas. This is a very innovative research topic, and much work stills needs to be done. In addition, the research has shown the importance of bringing different authorities together, and has created a good basis for future collaboration.
Exploitation Route As explained earlier, the uptake of this research has been overwhelming. The Regional Bureau of Agriculture started earlier this year the implementation of road water harvesting structures, whose positive impact can already be seen in both environment and society
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Environment,Transport

URL http://roadsforwater.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Reconnaissance-Report-Potential-for-Water-Harvesting-from-Roads.pdf
 
Description After linking with the Authorities from Tigray, the Natural Resources Management Division of the Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development has implemented road water harvesting project in June-August 2014 under the Moisture Conservation Program. This consisted of road water spreading, road water infiltration pits, water spreaders at culverts, water diversion and infiltration ponds, conversions of borrow pits into recharge and water harvesting structures. The work was done by community labor, contributions of the Army and the Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development. A number of these have been documented but the total uptake probably amounts to 200 road water harvesting systems. This has gone to strength after this start under the Catalyst Grant - with the activities implemented in four regions in Ethiopia affecting positively > 2 M people and also introduced in 9 more countries.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Transport
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Agreement between the Bureau of Rural Roads and the Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development in Tigray to convene a Task Force to work on Guidelines for Road Water Harvesting and Management
Geographic Reach Africa 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
Impact In Tigray, the Natural Resources Management Division of the Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development has implemented road water harvesting project in June-August 2014 under the Moisture Conservation Program. This consisted of road water spreading, road water infiltration pits, water spreaders at culverts, water diversion and infiltration ponds, conversions of borrow pits into recharge and water harvesting structures. The work was done by community labor, contributions of the Army and the Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development. A number of these have been documented but the total uptake probably amounts to 200 road water harvesting systems. In Sinkata after elaborate community discussion the contractor working on the highway in coordination with ERA (Ethiopian Roads Authority) and under endorsement of the woreda government have agreed to divert the water from the main road culvert (collecting water from six drains) to two large borrow pits (capacity 60,000m3), converting these into recharge ponds and reshaping these. The diversion canal to the main of the two borrow pits was made, safeguarding the downstream community of 260 households of road-induced flooding that effected the land and houses of 40 households in 2013. There is also agreement between the Bureau of Rural Roads and the Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development in Tigray to convene a Task Force to work on Guidelines for Road Water Harvesting and Management. There is interest from Amhara Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development to convene a similar program - a number of visits were made : because of the higher rainfall and the deeper soils the negative impact of roads on water and land resources is more pronounced even than in Tigray. Similarly discussions have started with the Oromyia Bureau of Transport and Communications to integrate road water harvesting and management in the roads programs. The main target in the current program is the URAP - the Universal Road Access Program, that is implemented throughout Ethiopia and aims to contact settlements with kebedes (villages). This program is implemented by local contractors doing the physical structures whereas the concerned community develop the dust/gravel road surface.
 
Description Including Water Management and Climate Resilience in the Design of Roads
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
Impact Prepare guidelines on 'roads for water' for World Bank and Government in 3 countries
URL http://www.roadsforwater.org
 
Description Global Resilience Challenge
Amount $998,000 (USD)
Organisation United States Agency for International Development 
Sector Public
Country United States
Start 01/2016 
End 12/2016
 
Description Research for Inclusive Development: Productive Employment
Amount € 578,400 (EUR)
Organisation Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) 
Sector Public
Country Netherlands
Start 10/2014 
End 10/2016
 
Title In-depth research alongside the road 
Description The in-depth research used the following methodologies: - poverty ranking - transect walks - collection of life histories - focus group discussions - including assessment of distributional impact 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This research has raised very important concerns coming from the roadside communities. It has also helped to understand the distributional impact of road development in the area. 
 
Title Monitoring data of pilot sides before and after implementation of road water harvesting technologies 
Description The data collected and analyzed consists of: - Groundwater levels - Moisture contents - Run-off assessment - Water quality (oils, TDS) - Cropping patterns and cropping yields 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This research data has helped to provide a case for support of road water harvesting measures, which is a really innovative concept. 
 
Title Reconnaissance report 
Description Reconnaissance reports from transects recording all hotspots and water/road crossing with short interviews) to assess and quantify the number of hotspots 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact N/A 
 
Title Socio-economic assessment of impact of road development, erosion and flooding 
Description Short reconnaissance on main hotspots and selection of five road side communities (5 kilometer) from roads for in-depth research 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact These research has generated unique data regarding the impact of road development in the road-side communities and serves as a basis of very relevant future research on the topic. It also captures the importance and the positive impacts of road-water harvesting for the communities, who feel much safer now. 
 
Description IFAD: Preparation of How to Make Water Wise Roads Note 
Organisation International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
Country Italy 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Field work for date collection Writting of Note and Prepare GCF proposal
Collaborator Contribution Preparation of a "how to do" note
Impact How to Make Water-Wise Roads
Start Year 2014
 
Description Blog on www.thewaterchannel.tv (May 2014): One bridge, multiple functions 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Not relevant
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/thewaterblog/272-one-bridge-multiple-functions
 
Description Blog on www.thewaterchannel.tv (October 2014): Roads for Water, looking for a better match: 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Not relevant

Raised interest in road water harvesting
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/thewaterblog/296-roads-for-water-looking-for-a-better-match
 
Description Creation of - www.roadsforwater.org 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dissemination of activities

Not relevant
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://roadsforwater.org/
 
Description Final Stakeholder Workshop 27-28 October (including field visit) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 21 representatives from Bureau of Rural Transport (Tigray, Oromiya), Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development (Tigray, Amhara), NGOs (REST, St Mary) and Mekelle University

Representatives from Regional Bureaus showed great interest in the project activities and took as an assignment to spread the word within their organizations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Kick-off Workshop Ethiopia 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 20 participants from Road and Water Authorities and NGOs

The Tigray Bureay of Agriculture started implementing road water harvesting technologies. Tigray Bureau of Road Construction showed great interest. The uptake of this research has been amazing with road water harvesting project implemented throughout tigray on approx 200 locations)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Presentation Regional Summit on Flood Based Farming, Tigray 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 85 participants from all local offices of Bureau of Water as well as political leadership of the regional state

Participants showed interest to implement activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Presentation at Regional Training on Integrated Catchment Management and Flood Based Farming, 26 October 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 47 participants from natural resources management from Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Somali

Participants from Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Somali showed great interest to implement roadwater harvesting in their own countries. There are possibilities for future collaboration with Ministries, Universities and NGOs in the four countries.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Training Workshop on Road Water Harvesting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 300 participants from Bureau of Agriculture local offices throughout Tigray

Professionals from Regional Bureaus In Tigray, Oromia and Amhara have showns great interested in the topic and are willing to further implement the0
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Webinar RWSN RAIN (21 October 2014) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 60 participants from water sector

Not relevant
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Webinar TheWaterChannel/ Rain4Food 24 November 2013 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 35 participant from water harvesting community

Practitioners showed great interest
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/produce/webinars/228-webinar-10-roads-for-water