Awards for UPGro researchers

During the first day of the 43rd IAH Congress in Montpellier, France the 2016 Awards of the International Association of Hydrogeologists were announced:

“At the Annual General Meeting in the evening, the new Applied Hydrogeology Award was presented to Dr Richard Carter (pictured) in recognition of his life time research in applied hydrogeology in Africa and elsewhere, his support for NGOs working in groundwater and his enthusiastic guidance and of students for many years at Cranfield University in the UK.

Finally, the 2016 President’s Award was given to John Chilton the current Executive Manager of IAH.” – source: https://iah.org/news/43rd-iah-congress-montpellier

Richard is a member of the UPGro Knowledge Broker Team, and both Richard and John are involved in the UPGro “Hidden Crisis” project.

Prof. Richard Carter scoops IAH Award

We are delighted that Professor Carter, a member of the UPGro Knowledge Broker team and Hidden Crisis project, received the first ever “Applied Hydrogeology Award” from the International Association of Hydrogeologists:

‘for “a groundwater professional who has made an outstanding contribution to the application of hydrogeology, preferably in developing countries or in support of international development”. Seven nominations were received and we are grateful to the panel of Johannes Barth, Jane Dottridge and Callist Tindimugaya for their careful considerations.

The award to Richard Carter recognises that he has practiced, taught and championed applied hydrogeology in developing countries throughout his career and continues to do so with energy, passion and wisdom. He communicates sound hydrogeological science and knowledge to governments, NGOs, donors and communities, and inspires young hydrogeologists to develop practical solutions to groundwater and water supply problems.

Three specific areas that fit him for this award stand out. Firstly, his work on applied hydrogeological science in Africa, including the use of shallow groundwater for small scale irrigation and the development and testing of low cost drilling methods. Secondly, his lifelong support for NGOs, ensuring that good hydrogeological science and practice is made known and available to practioners and policy makers. Thirdly, at Cranfield Richard has been instrumental for more than 20 years in teaching and motivating students from around the world to appreciate and take up the same practical approaches to their work. In his reply, Richard urged those starting out on a career in hydrogeology to apply their expertise in an inter-disciplinary manner to the big problems of poverty and water and food insecurity as a highly worthwhile and fulfilling vocation. He remarked that he was humbled to receive the award, being aware just how many other African and international hydrogeologists are equally or more deserving than himself and finally thanked his unknown nominator and the panel of judges.’

UPGro win at Stockholm World Water Week

Patrick Thomson, from the Oxford-led UPGro project “Gro For Good”, has won the prize for the best poster at World Water Week 2015 for the work that he and colleagues at the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Oxford have been doing on shallow groundwater monitoring using Smart Handpumps in Kenya. This work will continue under the UPGro Consortium phase.

A briefing note based on the information presented in the poster can be downloaded:

Patrick Thompson and his prize winning poster (photo: Katrina Charles)
Patrick Thompson and his prize winning poster (photo: Katrina Charles)

UPGro Catalyst Researcher recognised as a leading ‘Innovator under 35’ by MIT Technology Review

Dr Sharon Velasquez Orta (Newcastle University) has been recognised by the MIT Technology Review as one the leading “Innovators under 35” for 2015 for her work on developing a low-cost biosensor of measuring groundwater quality. In the UPGro Catalyst project (INGROUND), she and colleagues from Newcastle University and Ardhi University have been developing the sensor in the lab and trialling it in Tanzania:

“Her biosensor detects fecal contamination in water reserves destined for human consumption”

“In low resource areas, like sub-saharan Africa, the absence of water quality data poses a serious risk. For this reason, Sharon Velasquez has harnessed the degradation process undertaken by some organic bacteria to generate electricity which allows her biosensor to detect fecal contamination within the water source.

“The microbial fuel cells (MFC) that Velasquez uses work like batteries, the difference being that with MFCs the current flow is generated by the electrically charged components that batteries produce upon charging.

“In this way it is possible to create sensors that detect the organic material present in the medium as the bacteria begins to metabolize the organic material.

“Velasquez´s biosensor is characteristic due to its cylindrical shape which allows the resulting chemical reaction to happen directly in the environment.

“This technology aims to address the issue of fecal contamination of water supplies, given that this cannot be continuously controlled via existing systems because the detection process is lengthier and requires greater human resources.”

The INGROUND project is due for completion later this year.

Source: http://innovatorsunder35.com/innovator/sharon-vel%C3%A1squez (accessed 13.08.2015)

Collecting Water With Roads – ground-breaking research wins Global Environment Award

Water is short in many places but roads are everywhere – and when it rains it is often along these roads that most water runs, as roads unknowingly either serve as dike or a drain. By harvesting the water with these roads, water shortage can be overcome and impacts of climate change can be mitigated.

This was the idea behind the UPGro Catalyst Grant research[1],[2] project undertaken in 2013-2014 in Tigray Regional State in Ethiopia. The research looked at ways and means of collecting water with the roads – from culverts, drains, borrow pits, road surface, river crossings, as these have massive impact on how rain run-off moves across a landscape.

The idea then scaled up quickly – in 2014 the Tigray Government implemented road water harvesting activities in all its districts.

The results have been spectacular in increased water tables, better soil moisture, reduced erosion from roads, less local flooding and moreover much better crop yields.

It is for this project that MetaMeta of the Netherlands, together with its partners Mekelle University and Tigray Government have been awarded this week the prestigious Global Road Achievement Award for Environmental Mitigation[3] by the International Roads Federation. Among the other award winners are the people who are constructing one of the world‘s largest bridges in China. The potential to scale up the use of water with roads is enormous – with every area having its own solutions.

There is also a compelling economic case: harvesting water with roads if done well greatly reduces water damage to roads. The scaling up of the concept is now being undertaken with support of the Global Resilience Partnership[4] (supported by USAID, Rockefeller Foundation and SIDA), where MetaMeta with its partners are a Stage 2 winner. Programmes to collect the water from the roads are being undertaken in more areas now – such as in Amhara Regional State, where it is part of the massive programme to prepare for the expected El Niño climate event. More than two million people are being mobilised for water harvesting activities, including from the roads.

MetaMeta and Mekelle University would welcome those interested to become part of the learning alliance which will bring together on-going experiences and give access to training materials that are being developed – those interested in the learning alliance can mail to marta@metameta.nl

Further information:[5]

NERC media office 01793 411939 07785 459139 pressoffice@nerc.ac.uk

Press release: 02/07/2015 (a) Example of bad road drainage, Tigray, Ethiopia (Photo: Mekelle University, 2014) (b) Examples of roadside ponds to capture water and protect the road, Tigray, Ethiopia (Photos: Mekelle University, 2014) [1]Optimising Road Development for Groundwater Recharge and Retention” was one of fifteen UPGro ‘Catalyst’ projects. More details on this project can be found at http://roadsforwater.org [2] “UPGro – Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor” is a seven-year international research programme (2013-2019) which is jointly funded by UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and in principle the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). It focuses on improving the evidence base around groundwater availability and management in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to enable developing countries and partners in SSA to use groundwater in a sustainable way in order to benefit the poor. UPGro projects are interdisciplinary, linking the social and natural sciences to address this challenge. They will be delivered through collaborative partnerships of the world’s best researchers. The programme’s success will be measured by the way that its research generates new knowledge which can be used to benefit the poor in a sustainable manner. [3] Winners of the 2015 GRAA Competition https://www.irfnews.org/graa/ [4] Connecting Roads, Water and Livelihoods for Resilience: http://www.globalresiliencepartnership.org/teams/roads-water-livelihoods/ [5] More details can be found on http://upgro.org ; The Knowledge Broker for UPGro is Skat Foundation, based in St Gallen, Switzerland. Contact: Sean Furey (sean.furey@skat.ch) for more information.