a BRAVE new world…now online

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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.

The team held their 2017 Annual General Meeting between 24 – 26 January and you can find full details on the new website, so be BRAVE and dive in!

Presentations:

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GroFutures at the Association of Tanzanian Water Suppliers (ATAWAS)

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reposted from: http://grofutures.org/article/grofutures-at-awac-2016-in-tanzania/

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.

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Policy: Devolution & Water Services in Kenya

from Gro for GooD newsletter 2

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.

Hidden Crisis team reveal themselves in Edinburgh

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reposted from: https://upgro-hidden-crisis.org/2016/12/07/2nd-project-workshop-meeting-edinburgh-21-24-nov-2016/

Overview and aims of the workshop

Since our last project workshop, held in Addis Ababa Ethiopia in September 2015, the first main survey phase of the project (to survey the functionality and performance of a sub-sample of water points and committees) has been completed within each of the three countries, alongside a rapid political economy analysis studies for Ethiopia and Malawi (Uganda to happen within the next few months).

The aim of the workshop was to bring the project team together to foster our growing working relationships, and to:

1. Review Survey 1 – key challenges and successes – and to review the initial analysis of the data and plan for more detailed final analysis
2. Planning of Survey 2  – location and site selection criteria, the research approach and aims, methods and logistics
3. Planning of the Longitudinal studies in the 3 countries for both physical and social science surveys
4. Interdisciplinary research – to review and discuss our approaches to interdisciplinary science in the Hidden Crisis project and lessons learned from other UPGro Projects
5. Discuss ongoing stakeholder engagement and a Publication Strategy – for both the country research teams, and for the project as a whole.

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Attendees and meeting programme

The workshop was held at the British Geological Survey (BGS) office in Edinburgh, UK, over four days – from 21st to 24th November 2016.  Representatives from all institutions and from each country involved in the research consortium attended the workshop – 23 people in total.

Day 1 was focused to reviewing the work of Survey 1 across the three countries and the initial data analysis; on Day 2 the key logistics and research aims of Survey 2 happening  in 2017 were discussed, as well as the political economy work completed so far; Day 3 explored interdisciplinary research in the project, and the key aims and logistics for the longitudinal studies; and, Day 4, was used to identify and review the key priorities and planning actions for the next few months across the project team for the next main research survey phases. Several short “Ted talks” were also given throughout the week.

Summary of discussions

Presentations were made by Dessie Nedaw (Ethiopia), Michael Owor (Uganda) and Evance Mwathunga (Malawi) of the successes and challenges in completing Survey 1 across the three countries.    The project database and QA process which has been developed to store all the data collected by the project (both physical science and social science) from Survey 1, and subsequent surveys.

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A preliminary analysis of Survey 1 data from Ethiopia was presented by Dessie Nedaw and Seifu Kebebe.  The analysis used the project approach of examining the impact of using different definitions of water point functionality.  These include: working at the time of visit, having an acceptable yield, passing national inorganic chemistry standards, and whether they contained total thermal tolerant coliforms.

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The initial results of the rapid political economy analysis (PEA) work from Malawi and Ethiopia were presented by Naomi Oates and Florence Pichon of ODI, respectively.

There were detailed discipline group discussions and wider project team discussions to identify the main methods, key criteria for site selection and the main challenges and logistics for planning Survey 2.  Discussion was given to logistical and ethical challenges of repair of water points visited, risk of damage of the water points, and management of community expectations and follow-up during the mobilisation phases.  Key timescales for planning were identified by the project team.

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A half day of the workshop was focused on a wider project team discussion of our approach to interdisciplinary science – and the key challenges and opportunities of doing this in the next phases of the project.  Kirsty Upton (of the UPGro programme co-ordination group) gave a presentation of an external MSc research paper, which has reviewed the different approaches to interdisciplinary science across the 5 UPGro consortium projects.  Lissie Liddle (PhD student Cambridge University) presented the systems dynamics analysis she will be conducting for the Hidden Crisis project, bringing together physical and social science data, as part of her PhD within a Bayesian network analysis; and, Richard Carter then led a facilitated project discussion on our different perceptions of physical and social science factors to HPB failure.

From Tyneside to Abidjan: UPGro @ 7th RWSN Forum

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Pictured: Prof. Richard Carter on the UPGro stand at the 7th RWSN Forum

I had the pleasure of recently attending the 7th RWSN Forum, held from 29th November to 2nd December 2016 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.  The conference is only every five years so I am fortunate that it fell during the third year of my PhD giving me not only the opportunity to attend, but also the chance to contribute some of my own research completed thus far.

The conference delegates came from a mixture of backgrounds, from both local and global scale NGOs to government ministries, and from financiers like the World Bank to pump manufacturers.  It was a great opportunity to share experiences and create connections with people outside of the world of academia and consultancies, which dominated many other conferences that I have attended.

The 7th RWSN Forum was a chance for water infrastructure installers and financiers to learn more about the water resources which they are hoping to exploit.  The conference also allowed water resource researchers to find out what kind of information NGOs and ministries require in order to plan and manage interventions.

There were a number of oral and poster presentations and company stands at the RWSN Forum expounding solutions to WASH shortfalls and food insecurity, such as manual drilling technologies, solar and foot powered pumps, and smart technology to transmit water point equipment performance.  While all of these technologies undeniably have much to offer, without a reliable and renewable water resource their usefulness dwindles.  Therefore, the relevance of the UPGro projects in emphasising sustainable management of groundwater is clear.

An UPGro catalyst grant initiated the AMGRAF (Adaptive management of shallow groundwater for small-scale irrigation and poverty alleviation in sub-Saharan Africa) project in 2013.  The catalyst grant funded hydrogeological investigations, the setting up of a community‑based hydrometeorological monitoring programme, and gender separated focus groups in Dangila woreda, northwest Ethiopia.  My own research has developed from the AMGRAF project and concerns the potential for shallow groundwater resources to be used for irrigation by poor rural communities, lessening the reliance on increasingly inconsistent rains.  Research principally focuses on two field sites; Dangila in Ethiopia and in Limpopo province in South Africa.  The resilience of the shallow groundwater resources to climate variability and increasing abstraction is being assessed through modelling.  To construct the models, it is vital to have data on aquifer parameters as well as time series of rainfall, river flow and groundwater levels for model calibration.  The presentation I gave at the forum concerned the computation of these aquifer parameters from pumping tests of hand dug wells and the collection of the aforementioned time series via the community‑based monitoring program.

I enjoyed the week I spent in Côte d’Ivoire, a country that I may never have had the chance to visit without the RWSN Forum.  I believe the connections made with groundwater specialists from around sub-Saharan Africa will greatly benefit my PhD in terms of testing the transferability of the research with data from their countries.  Leaving Abidjan, I had the same feeling as everyone else I spoke to at the conference: “Please RWSN, why does this only happen every five years!”

David Walker, PhD Candidate, Newcastle University, UK – read his RWSN Forum Paper: “Properties of shallow thin regolith aquifers in sub-Saharan Africa: a case study from northwest Ethiopia [061]

UPGro at the RWSN Forum

Groundwater is critical to rural water supply – for many uses and in many parts of the world, not just in Africa. Therefore understanding of aquifers and how to use them sustainably is essential to tackling rural poverty.

So that is why we will be at the 7th RWSN Forum next week in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, to present the work of UPGro and to network with delegates from all over Africa (and the world) on how interdisciplinary research in African groundwater can deliver tangible benefits.

Highlights to look out for:

We look forward to seeing you there!

Invitation to the The Walker Institute “Big Event”

We are delighted to invite you to The Walker Institutes ‘Big Event’ at the University of Reading on Wednesday 14 December 2016.

 An occasion not to be missed, the event will showcase creative and entertaining approaches to communicating about climate change challenges.  This is an opportunity to network with Walker Institute researchers and our partners to discover game-changing research projects that bridge the latest scientific work on climate and health, and translate it for delivery at the grassroots.

 We are providing a platform for discussion and debate and we value your expertise and opinion.

 Speakers include:

  • Dr Rosalind Cornforth (Director, the Walker Institute) – UPGro BRAVE project
  • Sir Nigel Crisp (co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health)
  • Fatima Denton (Coordinator for the African Climate Policy Centre and a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

 We do hope you can join us!

 When:       Wednesday 14 December, 3.30 p.m. to 7.00 p.m.

Where:     University of Reading, Whiteknights campus, Reading RG6 6UR

RSVP to:  events@walker.ac.uk 

Please reply by 5th December to be sure of your place at this event!

Join Future Climate for Africa at COP22

Join our sibling research programme, Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) at the COP22 conference in Morocco:

At this event, South SouthSouthNorth and our partners, the Met Office, bring together a diverse panel of experts to discuss how Africa can increase its climate resilience in the face of increasing vulnerability to extremes.

This event will look at how innovative science and services are helping people across a broad range of contexts deal with key challenges.

Speakers: 

Please feel free to forward this invitation on to any colleagues you think would be interested. We look forward to welcoming you.
If you are unable to attend in person, you can watch the live broadcast at 16:45 UTC.

This is why there is a handpump in the car park – and what it has in common with a jet engine

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On 17th September, the mystery surrounding the Samrat handpump which has been installed in the car park of Oxford University’s School of Geography and the Environment was revealed. Learn more about the pump’s research purpose at www.oxwater.uk/oxford-smart-handpump.html or download the presentation below.

W. Mike Edmunds Memorial Lecture

Prof Alan MacDonald of the British Geological Survey to deliver the first W. Mike Edmunds Memorial Lecture on the theme of ‘groundwater and climate resilience’

3 November 2016, 5:00pm
Blue Boar Lecture Theatre, Christ Church

In a career spanning almost 50 years, Professor W. Mike Edmunds made an extraordinary
contribution to water science and water resource management globally. Mike led advances in geochemistry – particularly hydrogeochemistry and palaeohydrology – authored over 150 scientific publications and mentored numerous water professionals in the process. In recognition of his outstanding work, Mike received many accolades including the Whittaker Medal (1999), the O.E. Meinzer Award (2009), and the Vernadsky Medal (2010). Mike is remembered not only for his scientific achievements, but for his passion, warmth and generosity of spirit which touched the lives of many. This lecture aims to honour his legacy by promoting good hydrogeological science to the service of society: something Mike was deeply passionate about.

Groundwater and climate resilience

The first Mike Edmunds Memorial Lecture will address ‘groundwater and climate resilience’. As the world’s largest store of usable freshwater, groundwater is central to how humans are responding to the challenges posed by climate change. Currently, groundwater abstraction comprises more than 35% of global water use and this is forecast to increase as people seek to mitigate the effects of climate extremes on food and water security. However, this raises the question of how resilient groundwater is to change. In rural Africa, most households depend on groundwater to meet basic water needs, with few affordable alternatives particularly during the dry season. In Asia, groundwater underpins agricultural productivity, again with few realistic alternatives if groundwater resources were to prove unreliable.

In this talk, Prof Alan MacDonald will explore the resilience of groundwater to change and the challenges posed by climate change and increasing abstraction. Drawing on recent and ongoing research projects in Africa and South Asia, he will show how, with an understanding of hydrogeology, it is possible to plan for the future.

About the speaker

Prof Alan MacDonald is a Principal Hydrogeologist at the British Geological Survey and Honorary Professor of Groundwater at the University of Dundee. His work focuses on applied groundwater science, particularly in Africa and South Asia in the context of environmental change, water security and poverty reduction. Alan has 25 years research experience and has published 70 peer-reviewed papers, two groundwater books and more than 100 BGS Technical reports. He also collaborated with Mike on a number of publications. Alan leads international groundwater research at BGS and manages a small team of groundwater scientists and several PhD students based in Edinburgh.

For further information and online registration click here.