Groundwater monitoring established in the Upper Great Ruaha Basin, Tanzania

Re-posted from GroFutures.org

The GroFutures team at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA, Tanzania), led by Japhet Kashaigili (SUA) with support from PhD students, Hezron Philipo (SUA) and David Seddon (UCL), established in July (2017) a groundwater-level monitoring network in the Upper Great Ruaha Basin Observatory in southern highlands of Tanzania.  This area is part of the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) where increased use of groundwater and surface water is anticipated to support agricultural production.  Constructed monitoring wells at depths ranging from 18 to 32 m below ground were drilled using a PAT-DRILL 421 rig. The team also instrumented monitoring wells recently constructed by project partners at the Rufiji Basin Water Board (RBWB) in the Tanzanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation.

The new monitoring network comprises an upstream location at Chimala at the base of an escarpment and a downstream location at Mbarali within the alluvial plain. A monitoring well at Chimala Secondary School was installed into coarse unconsolidated sands and gravels to a depth of 26 m. This monitoring well is linked to both an additional monitoring well at Usangu Secondary School and a river gauge. Both monitoring wells are equipped with automated dataloggers providing hourly groundwater-level measurements. A third borehole was constructed at Chimala Primary School though no groundwater was encountered up to a depth of 30 m. At Mbarali, two monitoring wells were constructed on the St. Ann’s Secondary School and now form a transect of 4 monitoring wells as the team also instrumented two monitoring wells recently constructed by the RBWB at Rujewa at Mbarali Secondary School and Jangurutu Primary School.

The new infrastructure is expected to reveal for the first time the dynamics between groundwater and surface water in the Upper Great Ruaha sub-catchment of the Rufiji Basin and answer key questions around the nature of groundwater recharge and whether seasonal river flow recharges  groundwater or groundwater sustains river flow. Further work will also seek to ensure that this observatory is equipped with both tipping-bucket rain gauges to record sub-daily (hourly) rainfall intensities and soil-moisture probe arrays to better understand how intense rainfalls are transmitted through alluvial soils.

Ethiopian farmers and households have their say on their groundwater needs

re-posted from: Grofutures.org

The GroFutures team in Ethiopia has recently completed a survey of 400 households from predominantly agricultural communities within the Becho and Koka Plains of the Upper Awash Basin of Ethiopia; there are the same communities where the GroFutures team recently constructed and deployed new groundwater monitoring infrastructure. The team of social scientists, led by Yohannes Aberra of Addis Ababa University with support from Motuma Tolosa and Birhanu Maru, both from the Oromia Irrigation Development Authority, applied a questionnaire to poll respondent views on small-scale, household-level use of groundwater for irrigation, the status of groundwater governance, and their experiences of different irrigation, pump, conveyance and application technologies. The same questionnaire will be applied in other GroFutures basin observatories later this year.

The team began the household-level surveys on May 27th (2017) and completed 400 of these within 15 days. Two weeks prior to the start of the survey, the team reviewed the GroFutures-wide questionnaire to familiarize themselves with the questions and logistics of implementation. During implementation, the team encountered a major challenges in that many household heads were unavailable at their houses and had to be traced with all movements occurring in particularly hot weather.

In Becho, the team conducted questionnaires in the village of Alango Tulu whereas in Koka the team surveyed the village of Dungugi-Bekele.  As the total number of households does not exceed 600 in each village, the team’s polling of 200 households in each provided a high representative sample (>30%). The livelihoods of the polled village of Alango Tulu are dominated by local, household-level (small-scale) farming.  In the Dungugi-Bekele, the team focused on resident farmers though it was recognised that there are many irrigators who rent and cultivate land but don’t reside in the village.

The results of these questionnaires are eagerly awaited by the whole GroFutures team. A small sample of 30 questionnaires will be reviewed immediately by fellow GroFutures team members, Gebrehaweria Gebregziabher (IWMI) and Imogen Bellwood-Howard (IDS), and the Tanzanian colleagues (Andrew Tarimo and Devotha Mosha-Kilave) as they prepare shortly to trial the same questionnaire in the Great Ruaha Basin Observatory.

Photos: GroFutures social science team of the Upper Awash Basin in Ethiopia conducting household questionnaire survey in rural communities within the Becho and Koka Plains (GroFutures research team)

Professor Yahaya Nazoumou: Groundwater central to Niger’s climate change resilience

re-posted from GroFutures

[INTERVIEWER] Dr. Mohammad Shamsudduha or “Shams”, GroFutures Project Manager: thank you Professor Nazoumou for taking the time to discuss your involvement in GroFutures and how your work in the Iullemmeden Basin is making an impact on the government policies and practices of the water resources development and management in Niger.

[INTERVIEWEE] Professor Nazoumou or “Yahaya”:  I am a Professor of Hydrogeology at the Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey. I coordinate the IB team with IRD (France) and colleagues from Nigeria to achieve the project goals. I am also an advisor on climate change at the Ministry of Planning and Local Development and currently advise the Government of Niger on matters related to climate change so that development plans and activities can improve the resilience of communities to the impacts of climate change in Niger, in rural areas in particular.

Shams: can you please expand on your role and activities of the department?

Yahaya: Under the Climate Investment Fund, the Niger Government in coordination with the African Development Bank, the World Bank and key Nigerien stakeholders, has initiated a Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) called the Strategic Program for Climate Resilience. Niger will receive some US$110 million in grants and concessional loans from PPCR to strengthen capacity in the sectors of agriculture and livestock in Niger. These efforts also include activities strengthening the development of science informing strategies that improve resilience. These activities are aligned to GroFutures vision of establishing a Network of African Groundwater Observatories that includes the Iullemmeden Basin of Niger. Improving our understanding of climate change impacts on water resources is also a priority of the group. To make accessible global climate projections data from large global-scale climate models and to develop regional scale models will facilitate the development of climate–resilient, land and water management programmes.

Shams: I am aware that you represented the Government of Niger at meetings of the IPCC (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change) in Paris (2015) and Marrakech (2016). Can you share your experiences at these high-profile meetings?

Yahaya: Yes, I am member of a Niger Government’s team on climate change. I first represented the Government of Niger in 2014 at the Lima Climate Change Conference (COP20), and then attended the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) and Marrakech (COP22). My role in these high-profile meetings was to demonstrate how Niger seeks to achieve resilience to climate change and implement adaptation plans, and how the government programmes are trying to reach its goals in reducing climate change impacts. In 2016, as the President of the Scientific Committee, I organised a meeting in Marrakech as a side event to the Climate Change Conference to showcase Niger government’s programmes and activities in terms of climate adaptation and resilience in rural areas. In that event, the President of Niger as well as key stakeholders including international donor agencies such as World Bank and African Development Bank were present. Time for that side event was limited to an hour but within that short period key participants including myself discussed Niger Government’s experiences in the adaptation strategies for climate change. It was a good opportunity for me to mention GroFutures and how groundwater-fed irrigation can be developed in Niger where surface water is limited and highlight the greater resilience of groundwater resources to climate change.

Shams: Have there been any follow-up activities since the meeting in Marrakech?

Yahaya: Following the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech (COP22), the President of Niger asked the Ministry of Environment to develop a proposal for the Green Climate Fund. Subsequently, the World Bank has asked the Niger Government to develop a much bigger proposal integrating development, research and policy. So currently, I am working with the ministry to develop the proposal and I am taking the opportunity to link this to GroFutures.

Fossil groundwater vulnerable to modern contamination

Study shows that over half of global groundwater is over 12,000 years old

Most of the groundwater in the world that is accessible by deep wells is fossil groundwater, stored beneath the earth’s surface for more than 12,000 years, and that ancient water is not immune to modern contamination, as has been widely assumed.

This study, led by Dr. Scott Jasechko (University of Calgary) and co-authored by an international team of researchers including Professor Richard Taylor (UCL Geography & UPGro GroFutures), is published online today (April 25) in Nature Geoscience.

Groundwater is the water stored beneath the earth’s surface in soil pore spaces and within the fractures of rock formations. It provides drinking and irrigation water for billions of people around the world.

Jasechko, Taylor and his co-researchers dated groundwater from over 6,000 wells around the globe. By measuring the amount of radioactive carbon in the water, the team was able to determine the age of the groundwater. They discovered that the majority of the earth’s groundwater is likely fossil groundwater, derived from rain and snow that fell more than 12,000 years ago. The team determined that this fossil groundwater accounts for between 42 to 85 per cent of total fresh, unfrozen water in the upper kilometre of the earth’s crust.

Until now, the scientific community has generally believed that fossil groundwater is safe from modern contamination but this study has proved otherwise.

“Deep wells mostly pump fossil groundwater but many still contain some recent rain and snow melt, which is vulnerable to modern contamination,” says Jasechko.

Rain and snow that fell after the 1950s contains tritium, a radioactive isotope that was spread around the globe as a result of thermonuclear bomb testing. Disturbingly, traces of tritium were found in deep well waters, which indicates that contemporary rain and snow melt can mix with deep fossil groundwater and, in turn, potentially contaminate this ancient water.

According to Taylor, this discovery has important ramifications that should influence the way humans use groundwater in the future,

“Our results reveal not only current use of fossil groundwater but also the potential risks to water quality associated with the use of deep wells. Indeed, we need to better understand how the construction and pumping of deep wells themselves may connect fossil groundwater to the present-day water cycle.”

Scale of global water crisis could be unknown due to inadequate metrics, study suggests #worldwaterday

Re-posted from UCL

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.”

Click here to download the paper

Authors:

Simon Damkjaer, UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources
Prof Richard Taylor, UCL Department of Geography

UPGro GroFutures: http://grofutures.org/

Photo: Irrigated maize crop supplied by groundwater in Zambia – Richard Taylor

Piecing together Africa’s groundwater history

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.

Continue reading Piecing together Africa’s groundwater history

GroFutures at the Association of Tanzanian Water Suppliers (ATAWAS)

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.

presentation_guest_of_honour_awac_edited-768x477

Grofutures launch in transboundary Iullemmeden basin

re-blogged from GroFutures

GroFutures was launched in the transboundary Iullemmeden Basin at a workshop held at Abdou Moumouni University (UAM) of Niamey in Niger on 23rd August 2016. The workshop was opened by the Vice Chancellor, Hon. Professor Amadou Boureima, and welcomed by the Director General of Water Resources in the Ministry of Hydraulics and Sanitation of Niger, Mr. Abdou Moumouni Moussa; Engineer Koné Soungalo representing the Niger Basin Authority; Dr. Oumarou Malam Issa, Country Representative of IRD in Niger; and the Deans of Faculties of Sciences and Agronomy (UAM).

Continue reading Grofutures launch in transboundary Iullemmeden basin

Groundwater Serious Game played during GroFutures workshop in Niamey, Niger

re-blogged from IGRAC

On August 22nd and 23rd, a stakeholder workshop to kick off the GroFutures comparative study in the Iullemmeden basin was held at Université Abdou Moumouni in Niamey, Niger. During this workshop, IGRAC and the GroFutures Team facilitated a session of the Groundwater Serious Game that was attended by 28 participants. Among the participants of the game session, there were researchers from the university (professors and students), local authorities, hydraulic engineers from local organisations as well as farmers using groundwater to irrigate their crops. The game session, which featured simultaneous translation into French and Haoussa, helped the project team and the stakeholders to better understand the groundwater dynamics and the challenges to be faced in the coming years. 

After the session the team had the opportunity to discuss the experience during the game session and to highlight the importance of opening up the discussion of sustainable and joint management of the groundwater resources as a shared resource (domestic and irrigation uses, surface water versus groundwater). The Groundwater Serious Game session also proportioned a good integration of the stakeholders of the Iullemmeden basin in a lucid and dynamic way.

The Serious Game on Improving Groundwater Management Through Cooperation and Collective Action, developed by IGRAC, is being applied to case studies of GroFutures (Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa), a 4-year research project, funded by the UK government under its UPGro(Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor) programme,  seeking to develop the scientific evidence base, tools and participatory processes by which groundwater resources can be used sustainably for poverty alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This project involves comparative studies in Ethiopia (Upper Awash Basin), Niger and Nigeria (Iullemmeden transboundary Basin) and in Tanzania (Great Ruaha Basin).

GroFutures Serious Groundwater Game in Niger

EL NIÑO FLOODING IN TANZANIA

re-posted from Grofutures.org

On April 4th and 5th 2016, members of the GroFutures Team visited the Makutapora Wellfield in central Tanzania to observe up close and with project partners, WamiRuvu Basin Water Office of the Ministry of Water, rare flood conditions that are associated with the 2015-16 El Niño Event and, it is expected, conditions favourable for episodic replenishment of the wellfield by recharge. In advance of the El Niño Event, the GroFutures Team established high-frequency sensors to monitor both surface water and groundwater levels resulting from what was expected to be anomalously heavy rainfall associated with the 2015-16 El Niño Event.  The team was not disappointed by the rain but road conditions did present challenges to the downloading of data from installed sensors! After getting stuck twice in the very wet roads, the team will return again later in the year when conditions are drier.  Nevertheless, a lot was learned from seeing the wellfield basin in flood.