Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa

Lead Research Organisation: Sokoine University of Agriculture
Department Name: Fac of Forestry and Nature Conservation

Abstract

Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa (GroFutures) will develop the scientific evidence and inclusive groundwater management processes by which groundwater resources can be used sustainably for poverty alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It will improve understanding of the volume and renewability of groundwater in SSA, and develop robust models and tools to forecast available groundwater resources under changing climate, land-use and demand scenarios, including expansion of arable land under irrigation. GroFutures will examine current groundwater governance processes and identify pathways toward more sustainable and equitable use of groundwater resources that are reconciled to projections of changing demand and resource availability. It will assemble an international consortium of scientists with an unmatched track record of groundwater research and stakeholder engagement in SSA that both leverages substantial additional investment (£461,000) and engages with research and development communities across Anglophone and Francophone Africa. GroFutures will also establish a Network of African Groundwater Observatories that representing the primary groundwater environments and development governance challenges in SSA that features a new dataset of 25 records of groundwater-level observations that are 2 to 6 decades duration from across SSA enabling the most rigorous analysis of the relationships among climate, land-use and groundwater recharge that has ever been conducted in the tropics. Dedicated basin observatories will be constructed that will enable very detailed monitoring of the physical process by which groundwater is replenished and application of a new method for quantifying the volume of groundwater in African aquifers thereby overcoming fundamental limitations in present knowledge of groundwater in SSA. GroFutures will also employ an innovative and participatory approach to the management of groundwater which will enable for explicit consideration ofthe views of poor people in making decisions over the allocation and development of groundwater resources.

Planned Impact

GroFutures will benefit: (1) poor water users (women and men, rural and urban) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) through increased knowledge and evidence of sustainable groundwater use to alleviate poverty through improved resource management and enhanced health and livelihoods; (2) water planners and policy makers in SSA through the development of new evidence and methodologies to enable equitable and sustainable management of groundwater resources; and (3) research communities in SSA and beyond through creating improved new tools, methods and datasets for interdisciplinary analysis of groundwater resources and their management, as well as scholarly information exchanges and networking activities that will strengthen a growing Community of Practice involving Anglophone and Francophone scientists.

The primary pathway by which GroFutures will generate impacts for poor people is through the development of new evidence and tools which water managers in the focal countries and across SSA can use to: (1) target groundwater development where it can most effectively reduce poverty; and (2) ensure equitable and sustainable development of groundwater resources.

GroFutures will contribute to unlocking the poverty-reducing potential of groundwater in SSA by:
1) Establishing a unique Network of African Groundwater Observatories (NAGO) that will generate new evidence on groundwater availability and demand, including insights into how these are likely to change over the next two to three decades giving planners at basin, national and regional levels the information they need to plan for an equitable and sustainable allocation of groundwater for multiple users and uses;
2) Identifying locations in which groundwater development (for domestic supply or irrigation) is a technically appropriate and politically feasible strategy to reduce poverty;
3) Identifying locations at risk of future depletion due to likely demand/supply imbalances enabling appropriate management responses to be developed on a preventive rather than curative basis;
4) Providing specific information on variations in groundwater availability and demand which can carry high costs for economies and for the livelihoods of poor people and make planning and management difficult;
5) Strengthening the capacity of water planners, researchers and their institutions through the co-production of knowledge and collaborative, demand-led research and stakeholder engagement;
6) Identifying governance arrangements for pro-poor, sustainable groundwater management, in collaboration with water managers and other key stakeholders; and
7) Disseminating new evidence and knowledge on the positive outcomes of groundwater development for health and livelihoods enabling poverty alleviation.

The GroFutures team will engage staff of national, regional and local water bureaux in Ethiopia, Niger and Tanzania, as well as basin authorities (Great Ruaha, Niger) as project partners from the start in the research planning, data analysis and tool/metric development and piloting. They will also embed new scientific knowledge, models and methods for managing groundwater for poverty alleviation within water ministries to inform decision-making and initiate discussions about equity in groundwater development among relevant stakeholders.

Production and dissemination of high quality, open-source publications - in the form of academic outputs in high impact journals, as well as targeted policy briefs and other bespoke communications materials suited to different audiences - will be a central aim of the project. These will involve all members of the team and will be published in English, as well as French, Amharic, Hausa and Kiswahili, where appropriate. All materials and information will be accessible via a dedicated, bilingual website (grofutures.org) that is linked to institutional websites of the project team (AAU, BGS, IDS-STEPS, IGRAC, IRD, IWMI, SUA, UAM, UCL, UoS) and the UPGro Knowledge Broker.

Publications

10 25 50

 
Description Field Guide on Participatory Research for Identifying and Analysing Groundwater Development Pathways
Geographic Reach Africa 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Research in groundwater and sustainable management and utilization of groundwater in Tanzania
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Banking the Rain: enhancing the resilience of water supplies in dryland Africa
Amount £92,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 172313 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2016 
End 03/2017
 
Title Water-Table Fluctuation Method 
Description Analytical tool for groundwater-level time series data analysis 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The analytical tool for groundwater-level time series data analysis is currently available to GroFutures project members and researchers who received training on the research tool in February 2017 in a training workshop organised by GroFutures. 
 
Title The Chronicles Consortium 
Description The Chronicles Consortium has collated and analysed multi-decadal records of groundwater levels from 9 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa in order to assess the impacts of groundwater use, climate variability and change, and land-use change on groundwater storage across Africa. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The development of this research database is allowing, for the first time, a continent-wide analysis of the impacts of groundwater use, climate variability and change, and land-use change on groundwater storage across Africa. 
URL http://www.un-igrac.org/special-project/chronicles-consortium
 
Description African Groundwater Atlas - Phase II - Institute of Development Studies Support to the Social Science Component of the African Water Atlas in Partnership with the British Geological Survey 
Organisation British Geological Survey
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Developing 20 social science case studies of groundwater development in Africa
Collaborator Contribution Sharing contacts, refining content on the African Groundwater Atlas
Impact Not yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Banking the rain: Understanding episodic groundwater recharge from 2015-16 El Nino rains in semi-arid Tanzania, for sustainable water supplies 
Organisation University of Sussex
Department Department of Geography
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My research team and I prepared a proposal to NERC for funding under the programme, "Understanding the Impacts of the Current El Nino Event".
Collaborator Contribution My partners contributed to the preparation of a proposal to NERC for funding under the programme, "Understanding the Impacts of the Current El Nino Event".
Impact A proposal was submitted to NERC through JeS and we are awaiting the outcomes of this evaluation.
Start Year 2016
 
Description GroFutures Great Ruaha Basin Stakeholder Inception Workshop 
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 Sokoine University of Agriculture of Tanzania hosted the GroFutures Great Ruaha Basin Inception Workshop in Iringa on March 31st 2016. It was opened by the District Commissioner for Iringa, Hon. Richard Kasesela, and was attended by national, basin-level and local stakeholders (listed below) who discussed current groundwater use and management in the Great Ruaha Sub-Catchment of the Rufiji Basin and as well as both proposed and potential groundwater development pathways that might best reduce poverty. The event was featured on national television news in Tanzania (see clip here) and leading newspapers (The Guardian, Mwananchi).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://grofutures.org/article/grofutures-launch-in-tanzania/
 
Description Multi Sectoral Forum for Water Resources Management 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Discussed future planning for sustainable groundwater governance in Tanzania
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Pan-African Groundwater-level (Chronicles) Training Workshop in Morogoro,Tanzania 
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 The UPGro programme, supported by AfriWatSan & ESPRC, conducted a pan-African capacity-strengthening and knowledge co-production workshop at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania from the 10th to 12th of February, 2017. 40 participants from 12 countries in Africa took part and analysed multi-decadal, groundwater-level data ("chronicles") from 9 countries including Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger, Sénégal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Participants comprised PhD students and more experienced researchers (mentors & supervisors) as well as representatives from government ministries and the private sector, and included team members from all 5 UPGro consortium projects GroFutures, BRAVE, Hidden Crisis, GroForGood, and T-Group. Training focused on the application of the water table fluctuation method for analysing groundwater-level records and was led by GroFutures and The Chronicles Consortium, an international consortium of scientists from across Africa and beyond collating and analysing multi-decadal records of groundwater levels in order to assess the impacts of groundwater use, climate variability and change, and land-use change on groundwater storage across Africa. In addition to addressing key capacity-strengthening goals, the workshop provided a platform for the co-production of knowledge. As a result, a collaborative, pan-African analysis of multi-decadal groundwater-level records is in preparation and a number of participants is expected to contribute their national-scale analyses to an upcoming special section of Hydrogeology Journal.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://grofutures.org/article/pan-african-groundwater-level-analysis-and-training-workshop/
 
Description Side event at Africa Water Week 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact LSE organised a side event at the Africa Water Week Conference in July 2016 in Tanzania as part of the FCFA-UMFULA and the SAHEWS projects. The side event was on "Climate resilience and the water-energy nexus in East and Southern Africa".

Two short presentations
Prof Declan Conway - Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, LSE
Prof Julien Harou, Manchester University

Panel discussion
Prof Japhet Kashaigili - Sokoine University of Agriculture
Mr Peter Oluoch Odhengo - Environment and Climate Finance, National Treasury, Government of Kenya
Mr Stephen Mooney - Department For International Development, DFID Tanzania

Declan Conway highlighted recent studies that demonstrate the significance of climate variability and climate change for hydropower and environmental flows, and present practical methods to integrate climate risks in sustainable water management. He presented the various challenges that climate variability presents to east and southern Africa's water-energy nexus.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.futureclimateafrica.org/news/data-key-to-climate-resilience-in-east-and-southern-africa/
 
Description Stakeholder workshop at the Rufiji River Basin Office 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Declan Conway (UMFULA PI) attended this final workshop on 25-26 June 2015. The main elements of the Rufiji Basin Decision Support System and the Basin Development Plan were presented and discussed with a range of stakeholders. Contacts were made and the UMFULA project was introduced to a range of key people from the region who expressed interest.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Stakeholders Consultation Engagement 
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 group discussed issues around groundwater use, quality and governance.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Unleashing Agricultural Potential, SAGCOT Annual Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A decision was made collectively on the conjunctive use of surface and groundwater as a solution to declining surface water availability
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description VPO Task Force on Restoration of Great Ruaha Flows 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Recognised the role of groundwater water in augmenting surface water supply
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017