UPGro early careers researchers share experiences on an international platform

Compiled by Isaiah Esipisu, PAMAC news agency http://www.pamacc.org 

Five African early career research scientists took to stage at the 41st Water Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC)’s International Conference at the Egerton University in Kenya to showcase ongoing research achievements so far under the UPGro project.

Drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and Ethiopia, the young researchers discussed some of the complex social science, physical science and practical issues given their experience in two research areas namely Gro for GooD, through which scientists are developing a groundwater risk management tool in Kenya, and Hidden Crisis, which is unravelling current failures for future success in rural groundwater supply.

“Am not shy to say that it is my first time to participate in a research of this magnitude,” said Willy Sasaka, Assistant Hydrogeologist from the Rural Focus Company, which is coordinating the Gro4GooD research in Kenya.

Guided by scientists from the University of Nairobi, Oxford University, the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, and the University of Barcelona, the research project has led to the discovery of two paleochannels in Kenya’s Kwale County, which is the main source of groundwater that drives the tourism industry along Diani beach, serves residents of Ukunda, and supports a large scale irrigated sugarcane farming initiative in Kwale among others.

Sasaka made his presentation alongside his colleague, Suleiman Mwakuria, who explained how the scientists have been able to involve the local community in the research, including students who help in reading rain gauges among other things.

Patrick Makuluni, a geologist from Malawi talked about functionality and failures of boreholes in his country, showcasing slides to show how scientists have been able to identify reasons why boreholes fail soon after they have been sunk.

“Millions of pounds of investment by water users, charities and tax-payers are wasted each year by water points failing soon after construction,” he told delegates at an event organised by RWSN on the sidelines of the WEDC conference. “Getting a more complete understanding of how to keep water flowing from boreholes will reduce waste and improve water services for Africa’s poorest communities,” said Makuluni.

So far, the Malawi study, through which the scientists dismantled 50 functioning and dead boreholes to examine the underlying causes of failure, has already come up with preliminary findings.

“We found out that one of the causes of borehole failure was vandalism,” said Makuluni. Other boreholes were abandoned due to poor water quality, some due to poor maintenance; others were silted, while in some cases there were governance problems.

However, the young scientist noted that the researchers are yet to do data analysis, compile results, make reports and disseminate the findings.

Yehualaeshet Tadesse, a young female scientists from Ethiopia, presented a similar case, but focusing on social causes for poorly functioning water pumps in her country.

In Ethiopia, 170 water pumps in nine districts were surveyed in the first phase of the research project, where it was found that a lack of village level operation and maintenance skilled manpower was one of the contributing factors for water pump failure.

“We also found out that water pumps located in areas with alternative water sources such as springs, streams, private water scheme were poorly maintained,” said Tadesse.

She pointed out that pumps on non-communal land were often neglected, and as well, communities with limited finance and savings did not manage their boreholes well.

In Uganda, Joseph Okullo from Makerere University talked about rainfall variability, and how it affected groundwater in his country.

“Rainfall chloride concentration was interestingly found to be higher during drier season,” he told the WEDC delegates.

Sean Furey introducing African Early Career schientist at a WEDC side event

Above: Sean Furey (RWSN) introduces the research conducted by the UPGro Early Career Researchers.

The 41st WEDC International Conference is co-hosted with Egerton University, on Egerton main campus (near Nakuru) in Kenya between July 9 and 13, 2018. The conference is a valued and respected platform for reflection, debate and exchange of knowledge and ideas that are rooted in practice.

Photo credits: Isaiah Esipisu

 

 

African governments acknowledging the Hidden Crisis

re-posted from UPGro Hidden Crisis


Speed read:

  • Survey results of rural water points in Uganda, Ethiopia and Malawi presented to government ministry chiefs
  • ‘Functionality’ of a water point is more than a binary is water flow at the time of inspection? YES/NO
  • Government partners see the value in how the research can improve monitoring and evaluation of rural water supplies.

Continue reading African governments acknowledging the Hidden Crisis

Back to school: the future of water starts here


Speed Read:

  • New educational resource developed by the Gro for GooD team launched for secondary schools in Kwale County, Kenya to increase understanding of groundwater and water quality
  • Outreach to schools teaches girls and boys about water science and management
  • Event held on 17th March to celebrate the collaboration between the UPGro team, the schools, local government and private sector partners.

 

“You have a very great opportunity through your water clubs, guided by your teachers who are here and who can support you. We should take this as a very special opportunity for all of us” 
Water Module - Student Resource
Water Module – Student Resource

The UPGro Gro for GooD project has been delivering a programme of engagement to teach young people in Kwale County about water science and management. Water Clubs at 3 secondary schools have been participating in field trips, practical activities, experiments and conducting their own group research projects. This outreach work aims to develop students’ research and communication skills and showcase career options in the water sector.

In the run up to World Water Day 2018, the Gro for GooD project was delighted to welcome Madam Bridget Wambua, Director of Education for Kwale County, Kenya, to provide opening remarks (extract above) at a special event to celebrate the success of the Schools Water Clubs supported by the project over the last year. As the event got going, students listened with great interest to the keynote speech by Prof. Dan Olago from the University of Nairobi, and then took to the stage themselves for a series of presentations about club activities including water quality testing of school waterpoints, the installation and use of rain-gauges on school grounds, and field trips to the Base Titanium mine to see how the mine manages and recycles water in its operation.

Video extract from Prof. Olago’s speech

Other students presented their own mini-research projects into topics such as water conservation in agriculture and strategies for keeping water safe to drink, and one group gave an excellent explanation of artesian wells based on an email exchange with Gro for GooD hydrogeologist Mike Lane.

Students also brought practical demonstrations and posters to show in the teabreak, including a solar still demonstration from a group of students who had just heard that they are through the local round and have been invited to show their improved solar still design at Kenya’s National Science Fair for schools.

Madame Wambua and Professor Dan Olago then presented the schools, water clubs and club patrons with certificates of appreciation for their hard work and dedication to water-related environmental education, and 2 laptops were given to each club. The laptops were provided by the UK charity IT Schools Africa and preloaded with water-related environmental education resources collated by the Gro for GooD team.

Students also received print copies of a newly published Water Module Student Resource which was developed by the Gro for GooD research team with input from students and teachers at the schools. Mr Joseph Kimtai, teacher and club patron at Kingwede Girls Secondary School, said,

“I find this module of activities about water so helpful to the students – it complements what we are teaching in class. It also encourages critical thinking and solving problems related to the environment which is in line with one of the competencies of the incoming competency-based curriculum for Kenyan schools.”

The resource has been published under a Creative Commons licence so that other educational programmes in Kenya can make use of the content.

Co-author of the Water Module, Nancy Gladstone, said:

“It has been a privilege to work with secondary school students in Kwale County and help to meet their really encouraging thirst for knowledge about water. Education has a vital role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal for water and we are sure that many of these students will put their learning to good use at school and as they go on to jobs and further education.

“The Water Module event also provided us with an opportunity to thank the teachers, headteachers and local partner organisations such as Base Titanium and Rural Focus Ltd. who have all been critical to the success of the clubs this past year, and to contribute to discussions about building the water module into ongoing education programmes in Kwale County, both formal and informal, so as to reach more students and further enhance learning.”

 

 

Further info:

Groundwater is essential for economic growth and can contribute to human development if resources are used sustainably to benefit the poorest in society. The Gro for GooD (Groundwater Risk Management for Growth and Development) project is striving to help government and groundwater users find a management approach that balances human health, economic growth, and resource sustainability demands and benefits everyone. Project partners are University of Oxford, University of Nairobi, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Rural Focus Ltd., Kwale County Government, the Government of Kenya’s Water Resources Authority, Base Titanium and KISCOL.

For more information please contact:

Photo: Presentation of certificates by Madam Bridget Wambua, Director of Education, Kwale County (Photo: P. Thomson, University of Oxford)

GroFutures team bring rain to Niger in the dry season! (maybe…)

re-posted from GroFutures news


Speed Read:

  • Information collected through physical and social science methods was shared and discussed at the GroFutures Annual Workshop in Niger, with partners in and outside the study.
  • Open-source modelling software under FREEWAT platform was successfully piloted for ‘stress testing’ the sustainability of Groundwater Development Pathways accounting for climate and land-use change.
  • New water monitoring has been established to help manage the Iullemmeden Basin, which is shared by Niger and Nigeria

Continue reading GroFutures team bring rain to Niger in the dry season! (maybe…)

Is the Cape Town Time-bomb coming your way? Water Ministries and Operators need to do more to keep the water flowing

by Sean Furey (Skat) & Dr Anne Bousquet (GWOPA/UN-Habitat)

With water shortages in Cape Town, South Africa, hitting headlines worldwide, it was timely that the African Water Association (AfWA) convened their 19th Congress in Bamado, Mali around the theme of “Accelerating access to sanitation and water for all in Africa amidst the challenges of climate change”.

We were extremely fortunate that Dr Anne Bousquet of the Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Association (GWOPA) was able to attend and present the UPGro urban groundwater  study led by Prof. Stephen Foster last year. Her presentation was entitled “Groundwater – rational use to enhance urban water security under global change” [download presentation] .

Anne reflects on the presentation and the discussion with participants: Continue reading Is the Cape Town Time-bomb coming your way? Water Ministries and Operators need to do more to keep the water flowing

UPGro Ambassador leads “Groundwater in IWRM” training in Mali

re-posted from Cap-Net newsletter

A Training Workshop on Groundwater Management within IWRM in River Basin Context was held from 21 to 25 November 2017 in Ségou, Mali.  It was organised in collaboration with the Country Coordination of Natural Resources Users in the Niger Basin (CNU-Mali), Regional Coordination of Natural Resources Users in the Niger Basin (CRU-BN) and Africa Groundwater Network (AGW-Net). The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Moustapha DIENE Hydrogeologist at University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar (Senegal), AGW-Net Manager and Prof. Amadou Zanga Traoré, retired Professor in Hydrogeology, from ENI (School of Engineers in Bamako, Mali).

Continue reading UPGro Ambassador leads “Groundwater in IWRM” training in Mali

“Groundwater is the key to Unlocking Green Growth in Africa”

On 25th October, the prestigious keynote Ineson Lecture 2017 at the Geological Society in London was given by Dr Callist Tindimugaya, head of Water Resource Planning and Regulation in Uganda’s Ministry of Water & Environment, and one of four UPGro Ambassadors. In his speech he highlighted the importance understanding and managing groundwater well, not for its own sake but because it is a natural resource that underpins most, if not all, African societies and economies.

However, he expressed his frustration that the economic contribution of this resource has not yet been properly quantified so that its invisible contribution is made plain to all, from ordinary citizens to political leaders. Nevertheless, he was encouraged by the many initiatives across the continent to address the knowledge gaps and to improve the visibility and use of groundwater – in particular the importance of the UPGro programme and GRIPP. He concluded: “You cannot milk a cow, if you do not feed it”, likewise if the potential benefits of Africa’s aquifers are to be realised, then investment is needed in research, monitoring, regulation and – most of all – in education and training.

The day-long event was well attended and as well as a lively debate and a presentation by Guy Howard, DFID WASH policy team leader, there were numerous inputs from across UPGro, including: presentations by Prof. Richard Taylor about GroFutures and the Chronicles Consortium; from Brighid Ó Dochartaigh about the Africa Groundwater Altas; from Prof. Alan MacDonald about the Hidden Crisis project; and an array of posters from UPGro Catalyst and Consortia research, including a poster on the AMGRAF project by David Walker (Newcastle University) supported by UPGro and REACH, which had won the award for best Early Career Researcher poster at the recent 44th IAH Congress in Dubrovnik.

A huge thank you to Brighid Ó Dochartaigh and all the organisers at  IAH BGS, and Geol. Soc.

 

UPGro takes advice from leading African experts

The day before the 2017 Ineson Lecture, a meeting was held in the Council Chamber of the Geological Society in London at which the project leaders, programme board members from NERC and DFID, and the Knowledge Broker team met with three of the UPGro Ambassadors: Dr Callist Tindimugaya, Ministry of Water & Environment, Uganda; Prof. Moustapha Diene, U. Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegal; Prof. Muna Mirghani, Technische Universität Berlin.

Prof. Richard Carter made opening remarks on behalf of the Knowledge Broker team welcoming everyone to the event followed an icebreaker exercise so that everyone in the room got to know each other.

The aim of the workshop was to bring together representatives from the UPGro Consortia, the Knowledge Broker team, the Programme Executive Board (PEB), and the UPGro Ambassadors to reflect on the progress of the UPGro programme to date and to set the priorities for maximising the impact of the research over the next 2 years. It was the first opportunity for the Ambassadors to share their experiences of the challenges and opportunities facing groundwater resources across Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in relation to improving opportunities for the poor.

The three UPGro Ambassadors who were present gave a short overview of their backgrounds, their current role and their personal and professional interests in African groundwater research, development and management. They were all co-founders of the African Groundwater Network.

Prof. Dr Moustapha Diene

  • Senior Assistant Professor
  • Started in surface water
  • Interested in capacity development and practical knowledge of groundwater (manager of AGW-Net)
  • Groundwater is mysterious and difficult to illustrate

Prof. Dr Muna Mirghani

  • Visiting Professor lecturing in IWRM and runs WaterTrac consultancy in Sudan
  • Started in civil engineering
  • Interested in groundwater within IWRM implementation and governance (including catchment frameworks and transboundary issues) and drought governance.

Dr Callist Tindimugaya

  • Commissioner for Water Resources Planning & Regulation
  • Has worked for the Government since 1990 on water and groundwater in particular.
  • Interested in getting groundwater high on the agenda of political leaders and funders.

Each Ambassador presented an overview of what they see as the key issues facing the understanding, use and management of groundwater in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Using posters that had been created at a previous UPGro workshop (in Montpellier, Sept 2016), members from each of the five projects, plus Brighid from the Africa Groundwater Atlas, gave concise overviews of what each study is trying to achieve and summary of some of the early findings that are emerging.

After the presentations in the morning, the afternoon focused on discussions that pulled together the various strands of the conversation so far and some important questions to the Ambassadors on ways that the UPGro research can create more impact:

How do we move beyond conventional dissemination pathways and in what form do we deliver that information?

  • Be ready to share now what is being done, not waiting until the end. Otherwise, there is a danger that stakeholders think you have an agenda. Use national fora like Joint Sector Reviews and sector working groups to get some feedback and build appetite for your research. Remember to use simple language but not to over-simplify your message.
  • Politicians need to be approached indirectly. Decisions are made at a technical level. Build confidence in the results. Politicians learn through their assistants.

Other observations on research into action:

  • An important role for the Knowledge Broker is to interpret results and make them as non-technical as possible, without misrepresenting the extent to which the results answer the questions that decision-makers may have;
  • Corruption: can lead to evidence being completely ignored, and is difficult to deal with;
  • Political leaders have to make socially acceptable trade-offs, and are aware that citizens en masse have power through votes and demonstrations;
  • It is important to be neutral and not to frame evidence to push a specific gender;
  • Where are the influencing opportunities on the horizon?
  • Peer-to-peer learning between countries, River Basin Organisations, governments, donors can be an important uptake mechanism for new evidence;
  • Good short, punchy stories are important because they can be used as anecdotes to explain why UPGro is a great programme. These stories should not be afraid to cut-across projects where there is a common topic, such as finance, gender, climate change or governance.

Sum-up by Richard Carter

1. Integration of social and physical sciences : each project is taking a slightly different approach;

2. Synthesising: We need to get the messages right; there are some assumption about groundwater responses to wider changes (population growth, climate change) that shouldn’t be taken for granted;

3. There are variety of non-specialist audiences and we need to cater for that, from school children to senior government advisors;

4. We need to elevate the conversation beyond groundwater to the wider issues around food security, environment, industrialisation and employment.

5. We should be more confident about the positioning of groundwater – most of the world’s fresh water is groundwater so our communication should be too shy about that.

From the left – Moustapha Diene; Brighid Ó Dochartaigh, Muna Mirghani, Callist Tindimugaya, Richard Taylor, Alan MacDonald, Rob Hope, Kirsty Upton, Mohammad Shamsudduha, Tom Doyle, Michelle Truman, Jan Willem Foppen. (Not in the picture: Richard Carter, Ken Wright, Ken de Souza, Sean Furey)

BRAVE presented at Fifth iLEAPS Science Conference, Oxford, September 11-14

BRAVE was featured in a presentation by Dr Peter Cook at the Fifth Annual iLEAPS (Integrated Land Ecosystem-Atmosphere Processes Study Conference.  iLEAPS is a global research project of Future Earth.  This year’s theme, “Understanding the impact of land-atmosphere exchanges,” organised by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology of the National Environment Research Council.

Dr Cook presented recent findings of the BRAVE project on behalf of contributing scientists, Dr Emiliy Black and Professor Anne Verhoef.  The Presentation, Modelling the changing water balance in West Africa, showcased research investigating future changes to extreme water balances.  This has the potential to impact current and future management of water resources.

See Dr Cook’s presentation slides here.

UPGro at 44th IAH Congress

Once again, UPGro has a strong presence at the annual congress of the International Association of Hydrogeologists, which this year is in Dubrovnik, Croatia. UPGro highlights this year include:

T2.2. THE ROLE OF GROUNDWATER IN REDUCING POVERTY
Conveners: Alan Macdonald (BGS/Hidden Crisis) and Viviana Re

With presentations by:

T2.2.1 Tim Foster: “A Multi-Decadal Financial Assessment of Groundwater Services For Low-Income Households in Rural Kenya” (Gro For Good)

T2.2.4 Fabio Fussi: “Characterization Of Shallow Aquifers In Guinea Bissau To Support The Promotion Of Manual Drilling At Country Level” (Remote Sensing For Manual Drilling Catalyst)

T2.2.5 David Walker: “Comparison Of Multiple Groundwater Recharge Assessment Methods For A Shallow Aquifer: Why Are The Results So Varied?” (AMGRAF Catalyst)

T2.2.6 Adrian Healy: “Exploiting Our Groundwater Resource: Choices And Challenges In Managing The Water Commons”  (Upgro Spin-Off Project)

T2.2.9 Richard Taylor: “Large-Scale Modelling Of Groundwater Resources: Insight from The Comparison Of Models And In-Situ Observations In Sub-Saharan Africa” (GroFutures)

T2.2.11 Jade Ward: “Rapid Screening for Pathogens In Drinking Water: Preliminary Results From A National Scale Survey In Malawi” (Hidden Crisis)

T2.2.13 Alan Macdonald: “Hand Pump Functionality: Are The Rural Poor Getting A Raw Deal ?” (Hidden Crisis)

And in other sessions:

T2.3.3 Núria Ferrer: “How Do New Development Activities Affect Coastal Groundwater Systems In Africa? The Case Of Kwale, Kenya” (Gro for GooD)

T4.4.6 Richard Taylor: “Recent Changes in Terrestrial Water Storage In The Upper Nile Basin: An Evaluation Of Commonly Used Gridded Grace Products” (GroFutures)

T4.4.3 Albert Folch: “Combining Different Techniques To Monitor Seawater Intrusion Integrating Different Observation Scales” (Gro for GooD)

T2.6.1 Johanna Koehler: “A Cultural Theory of Groundwater Risks And Social Responses In Rural Kenya” (Gro for GooD)

Posters:

T2.2.14 Jacob Katuva: “Groundwater and Poverty – Evidence From Kwale, Kenya” (Gro for GooD)

T2.2.15 David Walker: “Investigating the Resilience of Shallow Groundwater Resources in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Case Study from Ethiopia” (AMGRAF Catalyst)

T2.3.14 Moshood N. Tijani: “Hydrogeological and Hydraulic Characterization of Weathered Crystalline Basement Aquifers of Ibarapa Area, Southwestern Nigeria” (GroFutures)