UPGro Science: understanding of African/Tropical recharge processes has been improved. Climate change may enhance groundwater recharge in arid and semi-arid areas, presenting opportunities for long-term management as part of national climate adaptation strategies [S4]

UPGro researchers investigated the age of groundwater. They also looked at historical groundwater level and rainfall data. They found that in wetter areas recharge happens every year, but in dryland areas substantial recharge less regularly, often just once or twice a decade.

In arid and some semi-arid environments, groundwater stores are replenished episodically in response to extreme rainfall events. Such events may become more common under climate change and are often related to predictable climate phenomena. In these environments, focused groundwater recharge processes are often more important than diffuse recharge processes. During wet periods, in favourable hydrogeological environments, focused recharge can be enhanced to make full use of groundwater storage through managed aquifer recharge (MAR).

One MAR technique piloted through UPGro was rethinking and redesigning road drainage in northern Ethiopia. Diverting road runoff into infiltration ponds reduced soil erosion and increased groundwater recharge. The techniques have since been scaling-up across Ethiopia and assessed or introduced in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Bangladesh, Nepal, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Bolivia.

Land cover also significantly influences recharge: in Ghana and Burkina Faso, recharge was found to be as much as 8 times greater on land under sorghum cultivation than that of grazed land, and also much higher than land with groundnut crops.

Continuous and strategic groundwater monitoring can build an understanding of groundwater recharge processes and patterns in different aquifer systems over the long-term, contributing to more effective, forward-looking and resilient groundwater management strategies. This supports livelihoods resilience as individuals can better manage their water resources and prepare for dry spells.

References and further information

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