UPGro Science: Numerical groundwater models can be used to assess the sustainability of different groundwater scenarios to inform groundwater management and planning [S14]

The concept of groundwater development pathways was used to define 5 potential development pathways with a range of stakeholders in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Niger. Numerical models were used to assess the sustainability of each, with stakeholders voicing a preference for less-intensive, multi-purpose development pathways, managed by local government.

Numerical models are also being used to inform scenario planning in Ghana and Burkina Faso. Modelled groundwater level reconstructions back to as early as 1902 show a range of dominant fluctuations in groundwater levels, from annual to multi-decadal, related to the hydrogeological setting. These insights help to set current groundwater resource status in context. Possible groundwater futures, driven by different climate scenarios (drier, more variable, wetter), outline key associated challenges for water resources, disease, agriculture and livelihoods.

Possible responses, such as infrastructure investment, improved groundwater monitoring and management, introduction of drought-resilient crops, and focus on environmental management, were identified to help mitigate the impacts.

One UPGro investigation examined a proposed 110km pipeline in Kenya from boreholes at Habaswein to the town of Wazir. The hydrological, social and financial risks were examined through stakeholder engagement, modelling and social surveys. Investment risks were judged to be high as a result of risks of salinisation, socio-political risks and lack of knowledge. Stakeholders with opposing opinions appreciated the risk perspective offered and the opportunity for dialogue. They indicated that better information might assist them to reconsider their opinions.

References and further information
  1. UPGro Blog (2019) “Different perspectives on ways to make a living from groundwater, in Tanzania and Ethiopia”
  2. Luedeling, et al (2014) “Water for Wajir. Decision modeling for the Habaswein-Wajir Water Supply Project in Northern Kenya”,
  3. Luedeling et al (2015) “Fresh groundwater for Wajir—ex-ante assessment of uncertain benefits for multiple stakeholders in a water supply project in Northern Kenya”. Front. Environ. Sci. 3:16. doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2015.00016
  4. GroFutures pathways modelling to be published later in 2020/21


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