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.
The UPGro Consortium project, BRAVE has launched a brand new website to show case the fantastic work that the team – led by Reading University, in the UK is doing. BRAVE, or to use its more descriptive-but-not-so-catchy name: “Building understanding of climate variability and environmental change into planning of groundwater supplies from low storage aquifers in Africa” is focusing research on aquifers in Ghana and Burkina Faso.
The big idea behind BRAVE is that we can build better ways to model and communicate the complex environmental changes in the Sahel region of West Africa and use that to improve the long term planning of groundwater supplies and provide early warnings of groundwater shortages so that the most vulnerable families and communities are more resilient to drought.
Professor Japhet Kashaigili presented recent research from the GroFutures Site Observatory in Tanzania (Makutapora) at the 4th Annual Conference (AWAC 2016) of the Association of Tanzanian Water Suppliers (ATAWAS) held on 8th and 9thNovember 2016 in Dodoma, Tanzania. Under the theme of “Knowledge, Capacity and Learning in the Water and Sanitation Sector,” the development of water supplies and sanitation as well as the current challenges faced by organisations across Tanzania were discussed by professionals working in water sector including policy makers and those involved water governance.
Professor Japhet Kashaigili, based at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), presented a paper entitled, Assessing the sustainability of groundwater-fed water supplies to intensive pumping and climate variability: evidence from detailed monitoring of the Makutapora Wellfield, drawing on collaborative research conducted by SUA, University College London, University of Sussex (UK), and the WamiRuvu Basin Water Board within the Ministry of Water and Irrigation. Key stakeholders including the Dodoma Regional Administrative Secretary and Technical Manager of the Dodoma Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Authority (DUWASA) expressed great interest in the GroFutures Team’s evaluation of the sustainability of intensive groundwater abstraction from the Makutapora Wellfield, which is currently the sole perennial supply of freshwater to the rapidly growing capital city, Dodoma. Japhet’s presentation highlighted the bias in wellfield replenishment (recharge) to heavy rainfall and the observed dependence of recharge on the duration of ephemeral river discharge to the wellfield. He also reported on the establishment of telemetry-based, high-frequency (hourly) monitoring of groundwater levels in boreholes enabling the WamiRuvu Basin Water Board and GroFutures team to download real-time monitoring of groundwater levels for wellfield management and research.
Johanna Koehler, Gro for GooD researcher (University of Oxford) reports from Kenya’s Third Annual Devolution Conference, April 2016
Devolution is here to last! This message was delivered loud and clear at the Third Annual Devolution Conference in Kenya, organised by the Council of Governors. In three years this conference has become an important gathering of national and county government representatives, academia, private sector and civil society to discuss the benefits and challenges of devolution.
This year’s conference marked the end of the three-year transition period in March 2016, when all functions outlined in the 2010 Constitution became fully devolved. It is also a critical time politically as Kenya’s 2017 national and gubernatorial elections are approaching fast and competition over the Governors’ seats is rising.
The delegates passed 18 resolutions to reinforce devolution and hand over all devolved functions to county governments. Some of the contested functions were the water, health and irrigation sectors.
Water is one of the mandates divided between national and county governments; it remains a national resource, but water service delivery is now a county responsibility. As water crosses county boundaries, it is clear that national-level institutions are needed to navigate conflicts and regulate water service provision. However, counties are asking for more autonomy and there is a need to avoid duplication of efforts between the national and county institutions.
The research I shared at the conference shows that the water service mandate is interpreted differently by Kenya’s 47 counties. Counties do not equally acknowledge their responsibility for the human right to water, which entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water. This suggests a need for county water policies to be streamlined so that regional disparities don’t grow and transformative development is sustained.
These findings come from the unique opportunity I had to survey all 47 county water ministries in Kenya at a summit organised by the Water Services Trust Fund to develop a prototype County Water Bill. I found that while counties are making major investments in new infrastructure for water services (where the majority spend more than 75% of their water budgets), maintenance provision and institutional coordination are often neglected. This raises a concern about the sustainability of water services and could slow down progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal for water.
Overall, the conference provided an important platform for the key political actors to share progress made in Kenya’s devolution process, and also to flag new or existing challenges as county governments manifest their power. It is remarkable to see such a transformation in Kenya’s political system within the short timeframe of only three years. It seems the water sector will gain from these changes, but only the future will tell if these benefits are equitably shared.