Groundwater has a critical role to play in securing safe water supplies, economic growth and food security in Africa. Groundwater is widespread on the continent, generally of high natural quality, and more resilient to climate variability than surface water. It therefore has potential to provide secure water supplies for domestic, agricultural and industrial use in rural and urban areas. The sustainable development of groundwater requires data and information on the state of the natural resource. To ensure that groundwater is developed and managed appropriately, avoiding long-term depletion or contamination, information is required on the quantity, quality, renewability and vulnerability of groundwater stored in an aquifer. High quality information on groundwater in Africa is often not available or is difficult to access. There are relatively few examples of long-term groundwater datasets in Africa and information – whether it be data, reports, or maps – are either difficult to find or do not exist. This makes it difficult for water resource planners to make decisions about the short and long-term management of an aquifer.
The Africa Groundwater Atlas is an open-access online resource that provides a summary of the groundwater resources of 51 countries in Africa. Country profiles include new hydrogeological maps, which are free to download, with descriptions of the main aquifers and groundwater issues in a country. The Atlas contains a wealth of supporting information, links to further resources, and an accompanying online literature archive that documents more than 9000 items related to groundwater in Africa, many of which are available to download as PDFs. Much of the information, particularly for Francophone Africa, is available in French.
The Africa Groundwater Atlas and hydrogeology maps are being widely used and referenced by a range of stakeholders from academia, NGOs, industry and government. The majority of users are based in Africa.