Africa Groundwater Atlas for Nigeria wins prestigious national award

The Nigerian Mining & Geosciences Society (NMGS) and Nigeria Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) have awarded Prof. Moshood Tijani, Dr Kirsty Upton, Brighid O‘Dochartaigh and Imogen Bellwood-Howard their 2020 Okezie Prize for ‘Africa Groundwater Atlas: Hydrogeology of Nigeria’. .

The NMGS/NGSA/OKEZIE PRIZE, endowed by the Nigeria Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), is in honour of the first Nigerian Director of the NGSA. The Prize instituted for a published or unpublished original work in the Earth Sciences, which is adjudged to be a landmark contribution to the development of the profession of mining and geosciences in Nigeria. The Prize is open to all Geoscientists/Mining Engineers.

The prize is worth N100,000.00 (£200) and a plaque, and will be given at the 56th Annual International Conference of NMGS in Ibadan, Nigeria from 22nd to 27th March, 2020.

Wikipedia Edit-a-thon helps spread groundwater knowledge

(photo: Brighid O’Dochartaigh, BGS @beodoch)

Yesterday, delegates at the IAH 2019 Congress, in Malaga, took part in an official Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, led by BGS. This is an event where people get together to edit Wikipedia – often focused on a specific topic. It is an opportunity for people with similar interests to get together to improve the content of Wikipedia, while learning how to edit the online encyclopaedia.

Why an edit-a-thon for the Africa Groundwater Atlas?

There was very limited content in Wikipedia related to groundwater or hydrogeology in Africa, The aim of this edit-a-thon is to create new “Groundwater in…” pages for every country in Africa, based on the content of the Africa Groundwater Atlas, but summarised and edited for a more general audience.

Through this, we hope to make groundwater information more accessible to a wider audience and increase the awareness of groundwater issues in Africa.

Want to get involved, but not in Malaga? Worry not:

Create your own Wikipedia account

You’ll need a Wikipedia account in order to start editing. You can create your account before the edit-a-thon to speed things up – Create a Wikipedia Account.

You’ll set up a Username that will be visible to everyone viewing any pages that you edit. You don’t have to use your real name if you don’t want to – but you can if you want. Note that accounts (and usernames) are for individuals and not organisations.

Getting started with Wikipedia editing

In the edit-a-thon we’ll lead you through everything you need to know about editing Wikipedia pages! But if you want to get started learning how in advance, try the Wikipedia Adventure, where you can learn to edit Wikpedia in about an hour.

Want to know more or need help?

Drop us an email at with the info above and we can tell you more about helping remotely!

After the event we will upload all the resources you need to get involved and create new Wikipedia pages on groundwater in Africa in your own time to a Google Drive Africa Groundwater Atlas resource folder.

Pages created and edited yesterday:

New drafts that you can help with:


Download digital country hydrogeology maps of Africa from the Africa Groundwater Atlas

The Africa Groundwater Atlas has released digital, GIS-enabled, national-scale hydrogeology maps for 38 African countries, which are freely available to download.
The online, open-access Africa Groundwater Atlas was launched in 2016.

It brings together groundwater information from many sources and provides a consistent overview of groundwater resources at a country scale for 51 countries in Africa. It is widely used by hydrogeologists, water supply practitioners, policymakers and others across Africa and beyond.

The atlas was developed by the BGS in partnership with the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) Burdon Groundwater Network for Developing Countries and groundwater experts across Africa. It was funded by the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and UK Aid through the UPGro research programme.

The new country hydrogeology maps show the hydrogeology (aquifer type and productivity) and geology (with particular relevance to hydrogeology) at a scale of 1:5 million. At the moment, maps for 38 countries are available to download; maps for the remaining countries will be released later.

The maps are provided as free-to-download shapefiles (.shp), also known as ESRI ‘shape’ format. There is a single shapefile for each country, which contains attribute information for geology and hydrogeology themes in attribute tables. Each shapefile is provided with layer files with legends for geology and hydrogeology in English and, for selected countries, French or Portuguese. A user guide gives supporting information about the maps, how they were developed and how they can be used.

The successful, sustainable development of groundwater resources is critical to future safe water supplies in Africa and has a key role in future economic and social development and food security. Doing this depends on a good understanding of groundwater and hydrogeology. All too often, high-quality information about groundwater in Africa – even where it exists – is hard to find.

The Africa Groundwater Atlas is helping increase awareness and availability of information about groundwater in Africa. The country hydrogeology maps are available to download from the Africa Groundwater Atlas at

For more information, please email

Africa Groundwater Atlas in Switzerland

On 6 September, the Swiss Water Partnership organised a learning event for partners on “Assessment of Surface and Groundwater” featuring a variety of talks and discussions relating to both domestic water resources and in development cooperation contexts. The event was hosted by the Centre for Development and Cooperation (NADAL) at ETH Zurich.

Sean Furey, from Skat/UPGro Knowledge Broker team, presented the Africa Groundwater Atlas, and discussed issues around groundwater information and assessment, not just for Africa but for development cooperation more generally and the role that organisations in Switzerland, such as Skat, World Vision, SDC, NADAL, University of Neuchatel and others can play in supporting such efforts.

Also presented at the event was Eawag’s Groundwater Assessment Platform, and SDC/University of Neuchatel groundwater mapping and recharge research in Chad. For links to all the presentations visit the Swiss Water Partnership

photo: SWP

Africa Rocks! @WEDC 40

Over the last year, the UPGro Knowledge Broker and RWSN team has been on tour promoting the potential of Africa’s groundwater as a catalyst for tackling poverty and the practical challenges of improving scientific understand and professionalism of implementation. These “Africa Rocks!” sessions in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire), Livingstone (Zambia) have showcased the Africa Groundwater Atlas, major findings from UPGro research, the new UNICEF Guidance on Drilling Professionalisation and brought in a variety of guest presentations from friends and colleagues working in related fields – whether it is drillers from Zambia, government regulators from Uganda, or international partners like BGR who are doing similar research. It has also become an opportunity to build momentum, not just for UPGro but for initiatives like GRIPP, the Africa Groundwater Network and the Africa Groundwater Commission.

It’s a lot to fit in, but the Africa Rocks! Session at this years’ WEDC Conference in Loughborough, was a great opportunity to share and pick up new ideas from WASH practitioners and researchers from all over Africa, and the world. Professor Richard Carter chaired the session and made opening remarks followed by a mix of presentations (see below) from UPGro and RWSN.

Time ran out for a full discussion, however, in the corridors and coffee areas afterwards it was apparent that one of the big issues that needs to be addressed is the growing uptake – and impact – of solar pumping. Is it the future for rural water supply, replacing the humble handpump? If so how will such systems be maintained and paid for, and what is there to stop unregulated solar-powered groundwater pumping leading to the kind of groundwater depletion that is wreaking havoc across the Indian sub-continent?

These kind of discussions are really helpful as we plan the next three years for the network and the research programme. If you have ideas or suggestions, then get in touch, either by email, by leaving a comment on this post, or come and find us at SIWI World Water Week in Stockholm, the IAH Congress in Dubrovnik, or the Ineson lecture in London.

Chair: Prof Richard C Carter

Presentations (files will be added)

  • The Africa Groundwater Atlas and Literature Archive

An overview of an extensive, unique and valuable database of groundwater information for the entire continent
Brighid Ó’Dochartaigh, British Geological Survey

Recent work with UNICEF to raise the standards of drilling and borehole construction
Sean Furey, Skat Foundation

Jacob Katuva, Oxford University, UPGro Gro for Good

  • Groundwater and Poverty – an UPGro Scoping Study: An overview of a recent review of the links between groundwater and poverty

Richard Carter, Consultant

Geraint Burrows, Groundwater Relief

Sean Furey, Skat Foundation

Other presentations at the conference by UPGro and related partners included:


Groundwater – the earth’s renewable wealth

By Sean Furey, Skat Foundation/RWSN/UPGro

Where does wealth come from? At its most basic, it is the difference between how much you invest in a product or service and how much you get from selling it. If the difference is positive you get wealth, if it is negative then you get trouble.

For a country like Zambia, the biggest source of wealth comes from underground: copper, oil and many other minerals and metals. Every aspect of our lives, from fertilisers, to homes, to solar panels depends on what can be dug from the ground. The scale on which mining and quarrying is done varies from a single person digging a hole, to the world’s largest machines demolishing mountains. Mining is also an economic activity that stretches from the very local to the most globalised trade.

In that context, groundwater can also be seen as a mineral resource on which the wealth of a country depends, so it was great that UPGro and RWSN were invited by the University of Zambia to run a special session on hydrogeology in Africa at the International Conference on Geology, Mining, Mineral and Groundwater Resources of the Sub-Saharan Africa, held in Livingstone, Zambia, in July.

The conference was opened by the President of Zambia, HE Edgar Lungu, who stressed the importance of groundwater and mineral resources to the economy, society and environment of Zambia and Africa more widely.

He was followed by a keynote speech by UPGro Ambassador, Dr Callist Tindimugaya of the Ministry of Water & Environment Uganda who gave the 400+ audience an overview of exciting groundwater initiatives happening across Africa, in particular highlighting UPGro, GRIPP, RWSN’s work on drilling professionalisation,the Africa Groundwater Network and the re-boot of the AMCOW Africa Groundwater Commission which took place the following week in Dar es Salaam.

One of the eye-opening facts that was presented by the government during the event that more than half of electricity generated in Zambia is used by the mining industry and most of that is used for de-watering mines – pumping water out of the ground and dumping it – contaminated – into rivers. Clearly a change in mindset is needed to see groundwater as a source of wealth to be used wisely for the benefit of all, not a problem that sends money pouring down the drain.

photos: Dr Callist Tindimugaya gives a keynote presentation on Groundwater Resources Management in Sub-Saharan Africa: Status, Challenges and Prospects.

UPGro-RWSN Special Session on Hydrogeology in Africa and Drilling Professionalisation



Africa Groundwater Atlas – your opinion / votre avis

Dear colleagues / Chers/Chères collègues (texte en français ci-dessous)

Some of you may already have seen and used the Africa Groundwater Atlas. This is a new online resource with groundwater information for all African countries. It is linked to the Africa Groundwater Literature Archive – an expanding online repository of documents on groundwater in Africa.

As part of the research programme UPGro, the British Geological Survey (BGS) are now developing the Atlas further, expanding and improving the content, and translating many pages into French. We are also aiming to make it more relevant by connecting the hydrogeology information it already contains to the practical needs of people working with groundwater in Africa.

We are also looking for feedback on the Atlas. We’d be really grateful if you could find time to answer a short questionnaire, which can be found at these web links

English version –

French version –

We are also organising a webinar on Wednesday 28 June to get feedback on how the Atlas is working, and what future improvements could be made. If you would like to participate in the webinar, please join up here:

We will get in touch closer to Wednesday 28 June with more details about the webinar.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

With best wishes,


Certains d’entre vous ont probablement déjà vu et utilisé l’ “Africa Groundwater Atlas”. C’est une nouvelle ressource en ligne qui regroupe des informations sur les eaux souterraines de tous les pays d’Afriques. Celui-ci est associé  à l’ “Africa Groundwater Literature Archive” qui est une librairie en expansion regroupant une grande diversité de documents et articles concernant les eaux souterraines en Afrique.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) consacre aujourd’hui une partie du programme de recherche UPGro à améliorer et enrichir le contenu de l’Atlas et à en traduire les pages en francais. Nous tenons par ailleurs à rendre celui-ci plus coherent en liant les données hydrogéologiques aux besoins pratiques des gens travaillant sur les eaux souterraines en Afrique.

Nous avons aussi besoin de vos retours à propos de l’Atlas. Nous vous saurions gré de trouver un moment pour répondre à ce court questionnaire, que vous pouvez retrouver en suivant les liens suivants :

Version anglaise  –

Version française –

Nous organisons aussi un webinar (un meeting en ligne) le Mercredi 28 Juin pour connaître votre avis sur le fonctionnement de l’Atlas, et sur les ameliorations à y apporter. Si vous voulez participer au webinar, veuillez vous inscrire ici :

Nous vous donnerons plus de details sur le webinar prochainement.

Si vous avez une quelconque question, n’hésitez pas à nous la communiquer.

Merci pour votre attention.



Brighid Ó Dochartaigh
Senior Hydrogeologist

British Geological Survey
The Lyell Centre


Africa Groundwater Atlas: “X” marks the spot, but where’s the map? #60IAH2016

Drilling for water is a fraught business in Africa – like being a pirate without a treasure map. In many areas, the rock is old – some of the oldest on our planet. This cracked, shattered stone that is blasted by desert heat or soaked in tropical rains with often only a thin covering of rust-stained soil, can hold substantial amounts of water, but a driller needs to know where to look and the skill to develop a water source that will last. A metre or two can make the difference between a dry hole and a well that could supply a village or a farm for a lifetime.

Continue reading Africa Groundwater Atlas: “X” marks the spot, but where’s the map? #60IAH2016

Atlas des eaux souterraines africaines : le « X » indique la position, mais où se trouve la carte ? #60IAH2016

Forer pour trouver de l’eau est une entreprise très incertaine en Afrique – un peu comme être pirate sans avoir de carte au trésor. Dans beaucoup de régions, les roches sont très anciennes, parmi les plus vieilles de la planète. Ces pierres fendues, explosées par la chaleur du soleil ou détrempées par les pluies tropicales souvent seulement couvertes d’une fine poussière rouillée en guise de sol, peuvent contenir des quantités d#eau considérables.  Mais un foreur doit savoir à la fois où regarder et comment construire un puit qui durera. Un ou deux mètres peuvent faire toute la différence et donner un forage sec ou un puit capable d’alimenter une ferme ou tout un village pour une vie entière.

La bonne nouvelle, c’est que dans beaucoup d’endroits en Afrique les réserves d’eau souterraine sont plus importantes à proximité des lieux qui en ont besoin, et que la capacité de stockage technique ou avec l’usage des sols évolue. Les eaux souterraines sont une ressource naturelle actuellement sous-exploitée dans la majeure partie de l’Afrique – alors même que les problèmes de stress hydrique y sont très répandus et que la sécheresse menace les moyens de subsistance et la vie même de millions de personnes dans l’est et le sud du continent. Pour une fois les changements climatiques peuvent avoir une conséquence positive, car dans certains milieux les nappes se rechargent plus vite lorsque les épisodes pluvieux sont plus intenses. De fait, mieux comprendre et gérer les eaux souterraines africaines devrait être au cœur des stratégies de lutte contre la pauvreté et de résilience aux changements climatiques.

Jusqu’à présent, le manque d’information aisément accessible sur les eaux souterraines a constitué un défi à ce propos:

« Lorsque vous voulez forer un puit au Royaume Uni, vous pouvez vous appuyer sur des cartes et des registres de forage extrêmement détaillés (collectés par le British Geological Survey (BGS)] pour décider où vous aller creuser» confie Sean Furey, spécialiste Eau et Assinissement au Skat, à The Guardian. « Même dans les pays qui disposent d’une institution similaire au BGS, ce type de données n’est pas disponible car les ONGs, les acteurs privés ou même les gouvernements, qui commissionnent les forages, ne savent pas qu’ils doivent y transmettre leurs registres de forage. »

L’Atlas des eaux souterraines africaines a été lancé en mai et constitue une avancée majeure pour améliorer l’information sur ce sujet.

L’inspection des carrières anglaises (BGS) a élaboré cet Atlas en partenariat avec le Réseau eaux souterraines Burdon pour les pays en développement de l’Association internationale des hydrogéologues (IAH) et plus de 50 experts des eaux souterraines venus de toute l’Afrique.

L’Atlas présente, pour chacun des 51 pays africains, de nouvelles cartes gégologiques et hydrogéologiques complètes et des résumés des principaux milieux géologiques et aquifères du pays. Il comprend des chapitres sur le statut des eaux souterraines, leur utilisation et leurs modes de gestion, notamment les systèmes de suivi-évaluation, avec des informations à jour sur les organismes nationaux en charge du développement et de la gestion des eaux souterraines. Des éléments et des cartes sur la géographie, le climat, les eaux de surface, les sols et leurs usages complètent ces données. Il propose enfin des références et des liens vers des sources plus spécifiques pour ceux qui souhaitent approfondir le sujet.

Les annexes présentent des sujets clefs concernant les eaux souterraines en Afrique tels que la recharge des nappes, les techniques de développement et les aquifères transfrontaliers, avec là aussi des liens vers des sources d’information plus détaillées.

L’Archive des publications sur les eaux souterraines africaines, est également disponible : gratuite, les utilisateurs peuvent y faire leurs recherches géographiquement ou par mots clefs et accèder à des milliers d’articles, de rapports et d’autres documents sur les eaux souterraines africaines.

L’Atlas des eaux souterraines africaines est en cours d’élaboration. Certains chapitres n’ont encore que des informations limitées et beaucoup d’autres peuvent être complétés avec davantage de détails ou de mises à jours – et l’ensemble des pays ne collectent toujours pas les registres de forage au niveau national. Néanmoins, si vous travaillez en Afrique sur l’approvisionnement en eau rural ou urbain, les ressources en eau, la protection de l’environnement, l’agriculture, ou l’exploitation minière ou forestière, faites de l’Atlas un de vos liens favoris dans votre moteur de recherche.

Qui sait si le « X » indique la position du trésor caché que vous cherchez ? Au moins, maintenant, vous avez la carte !

Illustration 1: Apercu de l’Atlas des eaux souterraines africaines[i]


Informations complémentaires :

L’Atlas des eaux souterraines africaines a été élaboré dans le cadre du programme UPGro –  Libérer le potentiel des eaux souterraines pour les populations pauvres  ( UPGro est financé par UK Aid ; le UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), et le UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Passeur de savoir/Facilitateur : Skat Foundation, en partenariat avec le Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN)

L’Atlas des eaux souterraines africaines et l’Archive des publications sont disponibles ici : 



Si vous souhaitez davantage d’information ou nous rejoindre, merci de contacter Brighid O Dochartaigh at


UPGro at the 43rd IAH Congress, Montpellier

Many UPGro researchers will be assembling in Montpellier, France for the 43rd Congress of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH).

If you are going, looking out for the following presentations (the abstract links won’t work until after 25 September). You can find the full online programme on the event website:

Continue reading UPGro at the 43rd IAH Congress, Montpellier