Early Career Researchers from UPGro Gro for GooD reflect on their time with the programme – Núria Ferrer, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain
What was your focus in the Gro for Good project?
I focused on the natural science aspect of the project and in particular, the aquifer system of Msabweni aquifer. For this aquifer, I developed a conceptual model which illustrate how the groundwater systems in the area work. I studied the sustainability of the system to understand the impacts of different water users on the system. To do this, I created a numerical flow model of the aquifer which can be used as a tool to study the effect of future climate variability and understand the risks associated with different future abstraction regimes.
What fieldwork did you do in Kwale County and what data did you collect?
For my research, I visited the wells and handpumps of Kwale County, sampling the water from nearly 90 different locations in two sampling campaigns. At each site, I took a small volume of water for chemical analysis and used a data logger to measure the groundwater level. Water chemistry data was used to investigate issues such as salinization of groundwater near the coast and also to provide information on groundwater flows in the aquifer system. Rural Focus Ltd provided great support to me in locating the waterpoints, preserving the samples before analysis, and helping me to find all the material needed in Kenya.
How have you shared your work in Kenya?
I presented my research to the Water Authorities and stakeholders in the area at the project workshops, and have contributed to a technical report for the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation. On my last visit, I helped deliver a training course on groundwater modeling to resource managers, technical staff and researchers from WRA, Kwale County Government and the University of Nairobi
What will you do next?
I have recently finished my PhD, and would like to continue research as a consultant. I hope to continue working in humanitarian projects, and if possible continue working in rural areas to improve groundwater management.
- Ramos, N., Folch, A., Fernàndez-Garcia, D., Lane, M., Thomas, M., Gathenya, J., Wara, C., Thomson, P., Custodio, E. and Hope, R., 2020. Evidence of groundwater vulnerability to climate variability and economic growth in coastal Kenya https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2020.124920 . Journal of Hydrology, 586, p.124920.
- Ferrer, N. (2019). Assessment of a groundwater system under global change scenarios: the case of Kwale (Kenya). PhD thesis. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.
- Ferrer, N., Folch, A., Lane, M. et al. (2019). How does water-reliant industry affect groundwater systems in coastal Kenya? Science of the Total Environment https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.133634.
- Ferrer, N., Folch, A., Lane, M., Olago, D., Odida, J., and Custodio, E., (2019). Groundwater hydrodynamics of an Eastern Africa coastal aquifer, including La Niña 2016-17 drought. Science of the Total Environment, 661: 575-597.
Interview by Nancy Gladstone, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford