Dr Galine Yanon presented a paper at the 9th Internationale Conference on Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation: communicating and collaborating for resilient solutions to climate change, at the Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, UK April 21-22, 2017. The conference had more than 70 participants from 26 countries.
Dr Yanon presented the paper, Local governance of groundwater for Agriculture Livelihoods: Managing Climate change Impacts in West Africa. This paper explores how local capacity and user perceptions of vulnerability to water insecurity in the Sahel are shaped. Research findings are supporting the BRAVE project and its partner communities in future groundwater planning for agriculture and livelihood resilience to climate change impacts.
This conference was a real opportunity to share the BRAVE project approach, methodology, and particularly the work that has been done in project communities in Ghana and Burkina Faso. Research findings are from the scoping stage of the project. Data collection was done in collaboration with the NGOs Partners, CARE Internationale, Ghana, Tamale office, Christian Aid Sahel in Burkina Faso, and Reseau Marp in Burkina Faso. See Conference Presentation here.
Dr Yanon also recently participated at the International Scientific Conference on Climate Risk Management in Nairobi, April 5-9, 2017. The conference was organized by the Kenya Red Cross in collaboration with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), with participants from government, civil society, research academia, the private sector, and NGOs.
The message heard in this pre-scoping meeting was very clear: IPCC wants to move from a 1.0 to a 2.0 version, as this message is more relevant to, applicable to, and representative of people’s lives. This will require new voices and stakeholders to play a fundamental role in the AR6 cycle and beyond. The conclusion and recommendation of this meeting will be presented at the IPCC assessment meeting in Addis Ababa in May 2017.
Furthermore, the conference also allowed Dr Yanon to present the BRAVE project and its interdisciplinary approach as well as the Rainwatch Alliance.
Shallow groundwater wells, are the main source of drinking water in many rural and peri-urban communities.
The quantity and variety of shallow wells located in such communities make them more readily accessible than private or government operated deep boreholes, but shallow wells are more susceptible to faecal contamination, which is often due to leaching pit latrines.
For this reason, online monitoring of water quality in shallow wells, in terms of faecal pollution, could dramatically improve understanding of acute health risks in unplanned peri-urban settlements.
More broadly, inexpensive online faecal pollution risk monitoring is also highly relevant in the context of managed aquifer recharge via the infiltration of either stormwater or treated wastewater into the subsurface for aquifer storage and recovery.
To tackle this challenge, IN-GROUND – an UPGro Catalyst Project – trialled four different types of Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) water quality biosensor in the lab (Newcastle University, UK) and in the field (Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania).
While further work is needed, the results provided proof-of-concept that these biosensors can provide continuous groundwater quality monitoring at low cost and without need for additional chemicals or external power input.
It is primarily a literature review paper so many elements will be familiar to rural water practitioners, however, Whaley and Cleaver are coming from a social science perspective so they highlight that previous analysis has focused on community management of water points as a “techno-managerial exercise” that largely ignores from broader social, political and cultural rules and relations around power – which groups and individuals have power over others and how is that used (or not used).
So what? The author’s suggest that current dialogue on water point functionality is not enough to save Community Based Management, because there is often a wider problem in with the under-resourcing of local government (and governance) and that more work is needed to help develop context-specific management, “rather than attempting to tweak the current blueprint of development the next ‘big thing’”
The full open access paper can be read and downloaded from Science Direct
Study shows that over half of global groundwater is over 12,000 years old
Most of the groundwater in the world that is accessible by deep wells is fossil groundwater, stored beneath the earth’s surface for more than 12,000 years, and that ancient water is not immune to modern contamination, as has been widely assumed.
Groundwater is the water stored beneath the earth’s surface in soil pore spaces and within the fractures of rock formations. It provides drinking and irrigation water for billions of people around the world.
Jasechko, Taylor and his co-researchers dated groundwater from over 6,000 wells around the globe. By measuring the amount of radioactive carbon in the water, the team was able to determine the age of the groundwater. They discovered that the majority of the earth’s groundwater is likely fossil groundwater, derived from rain and snow that fell more than 12,000 years ago. The team determined that this fossil groundwater accounts for between 42 to 85 per cent of total fresh, unfrozen water in the upper kilometre of the earth’s crust.
Until now, the scientific community has generally believed that fossil groundwater is safe from modern contamination but this study has proved otherwise.
“Deep wells mostly pump fossil groundwater but many still contain some recent rain and snow melt, which is vulnerable to modern contamination,” says Jasechko.
Rain and snow that fell after the 1950s contains tritium, a radioactive isotope that was spread around the globe as a result of thermonuclear bomb testing. Disturbingly, traces of tritium were found in deep well waters, which indicates that contemporary rain and snow melt can mix with deep fossil groundwater and, in turn, potentially contaminate this ancient water.
According to Taylor, this discovery has important ramifications that should influence the way humans use groundwater in the future,
“Our results reveal not only current use of fossil groundwater but also the potential risks to water quality associated with the use of deep wells. Indeed, we need to better understand how the construction and pumping of deep wells themselves may connect fossil groundwater to the present-day water cycle.”
Gro for GooD project has designed and installed an environmental monitoring network to complement existing data gathering by Base Titanium, KMD, WRMA and KISCOL. The environmental monitoring network collects data on the surface and groundwater quantity and quality, handpump abstraction and climate monitoring. There are 21 manual rain gauges, 4 Automatic Weather Stations, 3 automatic in-stream water level monitors (data loggers) and 5 groundwater level loggers. This network builds on the existing network of over 70 monitoring sites operated by Base Titanium Ltd., over 30 monitoring sites operated by KISCOL, and over 10 sites operated by KMD. Additional flow measurements using Current-Velocity Meter has also been undertaken by the project. The WRMA has been responsible for installation and operation of all the main river gauging stations on Ramisi and Mukurumudzi rivers and has been actively collecting data generated by different stakeholders. A message from the WRMA can be found on the facing page.
Flow Measurement on Ramisi River at Eshu Bridge during short rains in November 2016 using Current Velocity Meter
Gilbert of TAHMO undertaking regular maintenance of the AWS at Kidongo Gate in Shimba Hills
A new study by UCL researchers exposes substantial limitations in the ability of current metrics to define ‘water scarcity’.
21 March 2017
A new study by UCL suggests the scale of the global water crisis could not be properly known at due to inadequacies with the current metrics used to measure it.
With today being World Water Day, the research, led by the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources and UCL Geography, exposes substantial limitations in the ability of current metrics to define ‘water scarcity’.
The report finds that the misrepresentation of freshwater resources and demand is particularly severe in low-income countries of the tropics where the consequences of water scarcity are projected to be most severe and where most of the global population now live. Simply put, the authors argue that we do not know the dimensions of the global water crisis.
Ensuring the availability of adequate quantities of freshwater to sustain the health and well-being of people and the ecosystems in which they live, remains one of the world’s most pressing challenges. This question is reflected in UN Sustainable Development Goal 6.4 which seeks to reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.
The authors call for a renewed debate about how best to measure ‘water scarcity’ and argue that it be redeﬁned in terms of the freshwater storage required to address imbalances in freshwater supply and demand. Such an approach, they contend, would enable for the explicit consideration of groundwater, the world’s largest accessible store of freshwater which accounts for nearly 50% of all freshwater withdrawals globally.
Further the authors suggest that such a metric could be used pragmatically to explore a wide range of options for addressing freshwater storage requirements beyond dams alone that include use of renewable groundwater, soil water, and trading in virtual water.
Prof Richard Taylor, co-author of the paper says:
“How we understand water scarcity is strongly influenced by how we measure it. Grossly misrepresentative measures of water scarcity can identify scarcity where there is sufficient and sufficiency where there is scarcity. An improved measure of water scarcity would help to ensure that limited resources are better targeted to address where and when water-scarce conditions are identified.”
Everyone knows rainfall varies from season to season and year to year. Improved understanding of changes in rainfall patterns will help us evaluate the availability of water in rivers and dams, and calculate the amount of water entering into groundwater reserves (aquifers). The project has been working with local partners to combine multiple sources of historical and existing data records to give us more confidence in our understanding of rainfall patterns and variation in Kwale County. We are grateful for the generous support of the Kwale Agricultural Station and the Kenya Meteorological Department for sharing daily rainfall data from recent decades. Preliminary analysis of this data suggests that:
Annual rainfall has varied between 500 and 1700 mm with a mean annual average of 977 mm
On average there are 60 days of rain per year – though there have been years with few as 35 days of rain and as many as 100 days
From 1970 to now, we see no pattern of increase or decrease in annual rainfall or number of rainy days per year
Further analysis is being conducted on other stations.
Drought data: Actual and average monthly rainfall at Shimba Hills (1-Jan-16 to 31-Jan-17)
Long term rainfall data from the KMD rain gauge at Kwale Agricultural Station
Base Titanium’s environmental network records show that rainfall at Shimba Hills Centre was significantly below average in 2016. The long term mean annual rainfall at this site is 1,380mm; 2016 rainfall at this gauge was 739mm, which is 54% of the mean. 2016 was the second driest calendar year on record, the driest year being 1974 (with 693mm, 50% of the long term mean).
Droughts often lead to enormous pressure on the finite groundwater resources, both from domestic and commercial users. As we all know, Kenya is currently experiencing a major drought which has put millions of people and livestock at risk, with 1.3 million people in need of food aid in northern coastal regions. The impacts of the drought have also been felt here in Kwale, where water sources have dried up in Lungalunga and Kinango causing 200,000 people to suffer famine. The large economic investments like mining and agriculture have felt the impact through the diminishing surface water resource and groundwater table. The most vulnerable include poorer populations, schools and health centres. Working together with all stakeholders, the Gro for GooD project is advancing the development of a groundwater risk management tool that will help address such risks to groundwater security and livelihoods. The groundwater risk tool will help decision-makers to improve groundwater governance, balancing economic growth and groundwater sustainability for domestic and commercial users in pursuit of the wider goal of poverty reduction.
We would like to thank the local communities of Kwale County, Water Resource User Associations (WRUA), Kwale County Government, Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA), Base Titanium Ltd., Kwale International Sugar Company Ltd. (KISCOL), the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD), Rural Focus Ltd. (RFL), the University of Oxford, the Grupo de Hidrología Subterránea of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), the University of Nairobi (UoN), the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for their continued support towards the development of the groundwater risk management tool.
New pollution risk maps for Africa to help with achieving safe water for everyone. Responding to UNICEF/WHO report on Safely managed drinking water
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have published a key Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) report on “Safely managed drinking water”. It explains the way that the progress in improving drinking water will be measured across the world in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goal Target 6.1 of achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030. This is an immensely challenging target, particularly in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, which failed to reach the Millennium Development Goal Target of halving the number of people without access to an “improved” water source between 1990 and 2015.
For governments, aid agencies and citizens, a key question has been – what do we mean by “safe” water? This new JMP report starts to provide some of those answers. They define it to mean water that is “free from pathogens and elevated levels of toxic substances at all times”. For many areas, the most accessible safe water is from the ground – from boreholes, wells and springs. But this is not the case everywhere.
There is no question about the importance of groundwater in sub-Saharan Africa, where it provides drinking water supplies for at least 170 million people. In comparison with surface water, groundwater is widely known for its greater reliability, resilience to climate variations and reduced vulnerability to pollution. However, groundwater contamination does occur when waste from households, municipalities, livestock, agriculture, hospitals and industries (including mining) is able to make its way Inadequate management of household and industrial waste is leading to the pollution of groundwater resources in urban centres in sub-Saharan Africa.
In a new landmark study just published, reviewed all the available data and studies on urban groundwater across the continent and build up a map of aquifer pollution risk (Fig. 1)
The lead researcher, Dr Daniel Lapworth, of the British Geological Survey, said: “Despite the risk to the health of millions of people across the continent, very little is routinely monitored. If there is any chance of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal targets – and adapting to climate change – it is essential that governments and water utilities routinely monitor groundwater quality and take appropriate action to protect their precious water resources.”
“However, we are excited that our research through has developed a low-cost and robust way for measuring groundwater quality, and this approach is being rolled out in our work in Africa and India.”
UPGro is funded by UK Aid; the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC); and the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Knowledge Broker: Skat Foundation, in partnership with the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN)www.rural-water-supply.net
The UPGro programme, supported by AfriWatSan & ESPRC, conducted a pan-African capacity-strengthening and knowledge co-production workshop at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania from the 10th to 12th of February, 2017.
40 participants from 12 countries in Africa took part and analysed multi-decadal, groundwater-level data (“chronicles”) from 9 countries including Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger, Sénégal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.