A UPGro paper has been published by Dr Jenny Grönwall (SIWI) and Dr Sampson Oduro-Kwarteng (KNUST) of the T-GroUP project, entitled “Groundwater as a strategic resource for improved resilience: a case study from peri-urban Accra”
Water insecurity is a growing concern globally, especially for developing countries, where a range of factors including urbanization are putting pressure on water provisioning systems.
The role of groundwater and aquifers in buffering the effects of climate variability is increasingly acknowledged, but it can only be fully realized with a more robust understanding of groundwater as a resource, and how use of it and dependency on it differ.
Accra, in Ghana, and its hinterland is a good example of an African city with chronic water shortages, where groundwater resources offer opportunities to improve resilience against recurring droughts and general water insecurity.
Based on a mixed-methods study of a peri-urban township, it was found that for end users, particularly poor urban households, resilience is an every-day matter of ensuring access from different sources, for different purposes, while attention to drinking water safety is falling behind.
Planners and decision makers should take their cue from how households have developed coping mechanisms by diversifying, and move away from the focus on large infrastructure and centralized water supply solutions.
Conjunctive use, managed aquifer recharge, and suitable treatment measures are vital to make groundwater a strategic resource on the urban agenda.
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.
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.
In August 29th – 31st, 2016, LUCSUS (Lund University Center for Sustainability Studies) hosted a 3-ECTS PhD course “Niches in Transition Arenas: Critical Perspectives” as a part of capacity building initiatives by the transition management working group of the T-GroUp project, in Lund, Sweden.
Low accountability and complex governance landscape complicate understanding of reliance on groundwater in peri-urban Accra, Ghana, finds article by SIWI’s Dr. Jenny Grönwall.
Poor urban dwellers tend to be disadvantaged in terms of public service delivery, often relying instead on groundwater through self-supply, but their specific needs and opportunities—and own level of responsibility—are seldom on the agenda. The Greater Accra Region of Ghana and the country as a whole serve to illustrate many interconnected aspects of urbanization, inadequate service provision, peri-urban dwellers’ conditions, private actors’ involvement and user preferences for packaged water.
Based on interviews and a household survey covering 300 respondents, this case study aims to provide insights into the water-related practices and preferences of residents in the peri-urban, largely unplanned township of Dodowa on the Accra Plains in Ghana and to discuss implications of low accountability and a complex governance landscape on the understanding of reliance on groundwater.
Self-sufficient from wells and boreholes until a distribution network expansion, Dodowa residents today take a “combinator approach” to access water from different sources. The findings suggest that piped water supplies just over half the population, while the District Assembly and individuals add ever-more groundwater abstraction points. Sachet water completes the picture of a low-income area that is comparatively well off in terms of water access. However, with parallel bodies tasked with water provisioning and governance, the reliance on wells and boreholes among poor (peri-) urban users has for long been lost in aggregate statistics, making those accountable unresponsive to strategic planning requirements for groundwater as a resource, and to those using it.
Dr. Jenny Grönwall, Programme Manager, SIWI, forms part of the T-GroUP consortium led by UNESCO-IHE and funded by the research programme Unlocking the potential of groundwater for the poor in Sub-Saharan Africa (UPGro). The project focuses on parts of Kampala (Uganda), Arusha (Tanzania), and Accra (Ghana) as examples of growing mixed urban areas in Sub-Saharan Africa, including poor people in slums, who depend on groundwater.
Recently, the Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT) from the Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands, joined T-GroUP. DRIFT focuses on studying Sustainability Transitions and is the internationally leading institute in Transition Management (TM). The DRIFT team is a transdisciplinary and international group of researchers and advisors. DRIFT combines research on social innovation, sustainability transitions, policy, governance and innovation, with consultancy and training programs for governmental institutions, businesses and intermediary organisations. DRIFT is involved in local, national and international projects concerned with health, youth, urban planning, energy, water, food and various other sectors.
Within T-GroUP, DRIFT will support local transition teams to adapt and apply TM as a transdisciplinary and participatory approach in the three case studies in order to find innovative and sustainable solutions and new collaborations among the multiple local stakeholders to use and manage (ground)water. DRIFT will work closely together with the already involved institutes and especially those working on governance (action) research. The researchers from DRIFT that contribute to T-GroUP are dr. Roel van Raak, specialized in transition policy, dr. Julia Wittmayer, specialized in action research and urban transitions, and Giorgia Silvestri, specializing in participatory methods and sustainability transitions in a developing context.
DRIFT welcomes the T-GroUP invitation to join the group. The objectives and activities of T-GroUP fit very well with the DRIFT research agenda and more generally with the interests of the transition studies research community to learn more about applying TM in a non-western context. Furthermore, DRIFT is looking forward to collaborate with all T-GroUP partners in their ambitions to introduce this governance and participatory approach in the context of sub-Saharan urban (ground)water management and thus increasing the societal relevance of their research and education.
Dr. Roel van Raak of DRIFT explaining TM in a nutshell in front of an audience of T-GroUP members
There are three urban areas in which T-GroUP is active and, while most of the drilling activities in Dodowa and Arusha have been completed, in Kampala it took some time to get permissions. At first, the Ministry of Water and Environment had to formally approve the project drilling activities, which they did. Then, the Kampala Capital City Authority required more information about the project before giving their formal go-ahead. Thirdly, the Local Councils had to be convinced of the usefulness of the work, and, finally, land owners and tenants had to approve of the installation of piezometers on their land for monitoring purposes. It took Dr. Robinah Kulabako and Dr. Philip Nyenje a good deal of energy to take all hurdles. But they finally succeeded! The process also served as a good and thorough entrance of the project into the local communities. On Wednesday April 6, PAT Drill Uganda started drilling the first hole near Makerere University towards the top of Makerere hill. While drilling, the team was visited by David MacDonald and Dan Lapworth of BGS, who were in Kampala in the framework of the HyCRISTAL project within the NERC/DFID funded Future Climate for Africa Programme.
Meanwhile in Kampala, Dr. Philip Nyenje and Dr. Robinah Kulabako had gone to request permission to drill at the Church premises on Makerere Hill going down to Bwaise slum. Permission was required in order to be able to install a transect of piezometers between Makerere Hill, the perceived groundwater recharge area, and Bwaise slum, the groundwater discharge area. After introducing T-GroUP, they had good discussions with the Vicar of the church regarding the project, community mobilisation and other ideas in the field of water supply. Then, the Vicar requested Philip and Robinah to formalise their request in writing and deliver to him the letter. Additionally, he also requested Robinah to be a Guest Speaker during Mary’s day at his church. Robinah was happy to take up this challenge, as she regarded it not only to be an opportunity to strengthen and augment collaboration within the project and between the project and the community, but giving a sermon would also contribute to shaping Robinah spiritually.
The sermon was on “Living Wisely” based on Ephesians 5:15-17. Robinah really enjoyed it and she was happy to do the needful, combine religion with science, and get permission to drill.
Yes, it was a period of intensive fieldwork which included the daunting task of collecting, transporting, and concentrating huge volumes of groundwater samples, inspecting sanitary facilities, etc., but life in Dodowa and the project house at Salem left a balanced memory between fieldwork and the social interaction that was needed.
Final fieldwork activities in Dodowa included the establishment of monitoring network which consist of 40 wells to monitor groundwater fluctuation and to help us determine the groundwater flow direction. In order to know the groundwater flow direction, the monitoring wells were levelled to each other using a total station. It was daunting task to level wells scattered on about a 13.5kmsq area but the task was done within 3 days with support from my colleagues (Isaac and Eric) from The Hydrological Services Department. The water levels of these wells were also measured weekly to know the groundwater levels change over time and from the monitoring it was observed that water levels in the wells were decreasing gradually over the course of fieldwork.