Today on the Guardian news website is an excellent short film “Lord of the Rain” that highlights the challenges facing farmers in the remote Omo region of Ethiopia.
Traditional knowledge is being challenged by climate change, and as the young man in the film says: “My dad predicts the weather with the traditional way, but I do it with science.”
The film shows how radio programmes are used to give vulnerable and remote communities access to reliable weather forecasts to help plan their planting or cattle movements.
Researchers in the UPGro BRAVE project are developing similar ways for remote communities in Northern Ghana and Burkina Faso. Bringing state-of-the-art climate, weather and groundwater monitoring and modelling to bear on the challenges facing these farmers: when is the best time to plant, when are their wells most likely to dry out.
In the village of Poa, Burkina Faso, researchers from the University of Reading, with local partners, including Christian Aid, have been monitoring groundwater responses to rainfall and working with farmers to understand the implications for their farming calendar – when to plant their onions, cabbages, tomatoes and aubergines.
As part of RWSN webinar series on “Leave No-one Behind” we have webinars tomorrow in English and French on “Communicating groundwater-climate behaviour with African farmers”.
This webinar presents two examples of work from the UPGro: Núria Ferrer and Dr Albert Foch from the Universtat Politéchnica de Catalunya (Gro for GooD project) will show what global and regional climate variability, and climate change, means for soil water and groundwater in coastal Kenya, on which farmers depend. Cristina Talons, from the Lorna Yong Foundation (BRAVE project) will then present their work in Burkina Faso and Ghana to communicate with farmers using radio to provide essential support to their livelihoods in the face of climate challenges.
The BRAVE Policy Roundtables and Synthesis Day were held in Accra, Ghana on the 14th May – 16th May and brought together government ministers, journalists, researchers and civil society to tackle one crucial and important question.
BRAVE is very pleased to introduce Grace Labeodon as its new Communications Manager. Grace is originally from Liverpool (Northwest England) and has a background in law and communications. She brings experience of working with NGOs, grassroots civil society groups and youth advocacy initiatives. Grace is passionate about the SDGs, child’s rights, and sustainable livelihoods. As a dedicated development professional, she is committed to working in support of resilience strategies necessary for effective response to climate change and evolving resource management agendas. Grace is currently pursuing a Masters in Applied International Development at the University of Reading.
Grace is also a member of the Walker Institute’s Knowledge Management Team, which is responsible for delivering effective and relevant communications to researchers, partners and stakeholders across the Walker Institute’s portfolio.
Grace will assume all BRAVE communications responsibilities from December 1, including the BRAVE Website, Blog, Newsletter, and all Social Media. Contact Grace if you wish to discuss how you or your organization can be featured across BRAVE or the Walker Institute’s Communications Platforms. firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to the BRAVE Team, Grace!
BRAVE est très heureux de présenter Grace Labeodon comme son nouveau directeur des communications. Grace est originaire de Liverpool (nord-ouest de l’Angleterre) et a une formation en droit et en communication. Elle apporte son expérience de travail avec des ONG, des groupes de la société civile locale et des initiatives de défense de la jeunesse. Grace est passionnée par les ODD, les droits de l’enfant et les moyens de subsistance durables. En tant que professionnelle dévouée du développement, elle s’engage à soutenir les stratégies de résilience nécessaires à une réponse efficace au changement climatique et à l’évolution des programmes de gestion des ressources. Grace poursuit actuellement une maîtrise en développement international appliqué à l’Université de Reading.
Grace est également membre de l’équipe de gestion des connaissances de l’Institut Walker, chargée de fournir des communications efficaces et pertinentes aux chercheurs, aux partenaires et aux intervenants du portefeuille de l’Institut Walker.
Grace assumera toutes les responsabilités de communication de BRAVE à partir du 1er décembre, y compris le site Web BRAVE, le blog, le bulletin d’information et tous les médias sociaux. Contactez Grace si vous souhaitez discuter de la façon dont vous ou votre organisation pouvez être présenté à travers BRAVE ou les plates-formes de communication de l’Institut Walker. email@example.com
Le projet BRAVE apporte une approche unique d’intégration des sciences sociales et physiques et de travail, en partenariat avec les communautés locales, pour soutenir la traduction et l’adoption efficaces des activités de recherche. Les co-bénéfices donnent aux étudiants et aux chercheurs l’opportunité d’apprendre directement des communautés sur ce dont ils ont besoin et comment le projet BRAVE peut être le plus efficace et bénéfique pour les communautés locales et les partenaires. Un exemple principal de ce travail est démontré par les échanges de recherche étudiants et communautaires de BRAVE. Dans le cadre du projet BRAVE, trois bassins versants ont été équipés d’une infrastructure permettant un suivi détaillé de tous les aspects du bilan hydrique. Sur le site de Sanon au Burkina Faso, le suivi est assuré par Narcisse Gahi, PDRA BRAVE qui siège au sein de l’IRC, et par Jean Pierre Sandwidi à l’Université de Ouagadougou, ainsi que Mahamadou Koita au 2iE. Dans les bassins versants du Vea au Ghana et au Burkina Faso, il est dirigé par le technicien WASCAL, Sammy Guug, avec l’aide du Water Research Institute.
Sur le site du village de Sanon, le projet a loué des logements locaux où les étudiants vivent pendant la saison des pluies. Jusqu’à présent, au cours de deux saisons humides, trois étudiants de MSc et sept étudiants de BSc de l’Université de Ouagadougou et 2iE ont recueilli des données pour le projet. Ces étudiants viennent de cours liés à l’hydrologie et à la biologie. Sur les sites de Vea Catchment, un étudiant au doctorat WASCAL a collecté des données, ainsi qu’un stagiaire et un étudiant BSc. Il est plaisant de voir cette collaboration à la fois améliorer la collecte de données et renforcer les capacités des étudiants locaux.
Pendant ces séjours, les étudiants, les chercheurs et les communautés apprennent les uns des autres à travers des recherches menées et des échanges collaboratifs. Les étudiants et les chercheurs apprennent comment mener des travaux sur le terrain dans les communautés qui acquièrent une compréhension critique et une expérience des techniques de collecte de données, mais aussi le rôle des communautés dans le processus de recherche. Les communautés acquièrent également une compréhension de première main de la recherche menée dans leur communauté ainsi qu’un aperçu du travail important accompli par les universités nationales et de la façon dont ce travail peut produire des bénéfices à l’échelle nationale et communautaire. L’équipe du projet BRAVE est très reconnaissante envers les étudiants, leurs superviseurs et les communautés BRAVE pour ces opportunités.
The BRAVE project brings a unique approach of integrating both the social and physical sciences and working, in partnership with, local communities to support effective translation and uptake of research activities. Co-benefits result in the opportunity for students and researchers to learn directly from communities on what is needed and how the BRAVE project can be most effective and beneficial for local communities and partners. A primary example of this work is demonstrated through BRAVE’s Student and Community Research Exchanges. Within the BRAVE project three catchments have been equipped with infrastructure that allows detailed monitoring of all aspects of the water balance. At the Sanon site in Burkina Faso, monitoring is led by Narcisse Gahi, a BRAVE PDRA who sits within IRC, and by Jean Pierre Sandwidi at the University of Ouagadougou, as well as Mahamadou Koita at 2iE. At the Vea Catchment sites in Ghana and Burkina Faso it is led by WASCAL Technician, Sammy Guug, with assistance from the Water Research Institute.
At the Sanon village site, the project has rented local accommodation where students live through the period of the wet season. So far, over two wet seasons, three MSc students and seven BSc students from the University of Ouagadougou and 2iE have gathered data for the project. These students come from hydrology and biology-related courses. At the Vea Catchment sites, a WASCAL PhD student has been collecting data, as well as an intern and a BSc student. It is pleasing to see this collaboration that both improves data collection and builds capacity for local students.
During these stays, students, researchers and communities learn from each other through research conducted and collaborative exchanges. Students and researchers learn how to conduct fieldwork in communities gaining critical understanding and experience in data collection techniques, but also the role of communities within the research process. Communities also gain first-hand understanding of the research being conducted in their community as well as an insight into the important work being done through national universities and how that work can produce benefits nationwide and at community levels. The BRAVE Project Team is very grateful to the students and their supervisors and BRAVE communities for these opportunities.
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 IAHBGS, and Geol. Soc.
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.
A key component of water resource management is the sound scientific understanding of water flows and storage. Where water supplies are sourced through wells and boreholes in the underlying rocks, we need to understand the volumes of water stored there and how natural climate variability and land cover control how these stores are replenished. For longer term planning purposes, we also need to assess how climate and land use change will impact on the resource.
The BRAVE project aims to provide tools to support water resource management in Ghana and Burkina Faso. This is expected to improve our understanding of the water flows and storage through the instrumentation of a series of small catchments to monitor all aspects of the water balance. The strategy for the BRAVE project was to build on existing monitored catchments, recognizing the cost of monitoring equipment; the time and effort required to build relationships with local communities in the catchments being monitored; and the value of existing contextual and longer-term data sets.
In Burkina Faso, one of the detailed monitoring catchment which BRAVE is working in is around the village of Sanon, 40 km to the north of the capital city, Ouagadougou. Sanon represents much of semi-arid West Africa as the land cover has been significantly changed through farming. The site was first established by BRGM, the French Geological Survey, but has been built up in recent years by the Institut International d’Ingénierie de l’Eau et de l’Environnement (2iE), with input from the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD). Prior to BRAVE’s involvement, there was a network of monitoring boreholes and a weather station in place, and geophysical surveys had been undertaken to characterise the hydrogeological setting. This, with the time series data collected, had allowed a conceptual model of groundwater flows and storage to be developed. Crucially, 2iE has developed a good relationship with the local community and involved members of the community in this monitoring.
Through the BRAVE project, the further development of the monitoring network at Sanon has been a collaborative activity involving 2iE, the University of Ouagadougou (UO1), IRC Burkina Faso and the British Geological Survey. This has included the drilling and testing of additional boreholes, enhancement of the weather station, installation of a series of transects of access tubes to measure soil moisture and the setting up of a river flow measurement site. It has also involved the construction of three plots (4 x 20 m) containing land use representative of the catchment within which runoff, soil moisture, groundwater level, soil infiltration, soil evaporation and plant growth and transpiration are directly measured. The monitoring is undertaken by members of the local community and by students from 2iE and UO1, as well as by BRAVE project staff.
The other two existing catchments where the BRAVE project has enhanced monitoring, are part of the network of research catchments run by the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL), a large-scale programme for strengthening research infrastructure and capacity involving ten West African countries and funded by the German government. One of these catchments, Aniabisi, is in Northern Ghana in an area similar to Sanon, where the landscape has been substantially changed through farming; the other, Nazinga, is just across the border in southern Burkina Faso in a nature reserve where the natural land cover is still intact. The infrastructure already in place in these WASCAL catchments has been built upon through collaboration by WASCAL, the Ghanaian Water Research Institute and BGS. Aniabisi now has infrastructure and monitoring equipment similar to that in Sanon, including the three land use plots; Nazinga is a scaled down version of this. As with Sanon, the local relationships with communities has been important in the installation of new infrastructure and local residents are also undertaking some of the monitoring work. Crucial impacts have been the support of WASCAL technical staff in the development and subsequent running of the sites.
The collaboration between BRAVE and West African organisations has been a great success that has seen the value added to established sites. The embedding of BRAVE research will greatly improve the chances that the monitoring sites developed through UPGro will be sustained beyond the period of the Programme. The importance of the resulting datasets cannot be underestimated, as we strive to understand the impacts of environmental change on the water resources that underpin future adaptation and resource management.
Top Photo: Sorghum cropping is a land use type that is included in monitoring plots at both Sanon and Aniabisi