Africa Rocks! @WEDC 40

Over the last year, the UPGro Knowledge Broker and RWSN team has been on tour promoting the potential of Africa’s groundwater as a catalyst for tackling poverty and the practical challenges of improving scientific understand and professionalism of implementation. These “Africa Rocks!” sessions in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire), Livingstone (Zambia) have showcased the Africa Groundwater Atlas, major findings from UPGro research, the new UNICEF Guidance on Drilling Professionalisation and brought in a variety of guest presentations from friends and colleagues working in related fields – whether it is drillers from Zambia, government regulators from Uganda, or international partners like BGR who are doing similar research. It has also become an opportunity to build momentum, not just for UPGro but for initiatives like GRIPP, the Africa Groundwater Network and the Africa Groundwater Commission.

It’s a lot to fit in, but the Africa Rocks! Session at this years’ WEDC Conference in Loughborough, was a great opportunity to share and pick up new ideas from WASH practitioners and researchers from all over Africa, and the world. Professor Richard Carter chaired the session and made opening remarks followed by a mix of presentations (see below) from UPGro and RWSN.

Time ran out for a full discussion, however, in the corridors and coffee areas afterwards it was apparent that one of the big issues that needs to be addressed is the growing uptake – and impact – of solar pumping. Is it the future for rural water supply, replacing the humble handpump? If so how will such systems be maintained and paid for, and what is there to stop unregulated solar-powered groundwater pumping leading to the kind of groundwater depletion that is wreaking havoc across the Indian sub-continent?

These kind of discussions are really helpful as we plan the next three years for the network and the research programme. If you have ideas or suggestions, then get in touch, either by email, by leaving a comment on this post, or come and find us at SIWI World Water Week in Stockholm, the IAH Congress in Dubrovnik, or the Ineson lecture in London.

Chair: Prof Richard C Carter

Presentations (files will be added)

  • The Africa Groundwater Atlas and Literature Archive

An overview of an extensive, unique and valuable database of groundwater information for the entire continent
Brighid Ó’Dochartaigh, British Geological Survey

Recent work with UNICEF to raise the standards of drilling and borehole construction
Sean Furey, Skat Foundation

Jacob Katuva, Oxford University, UPGro Gro for Good

  • Groundwater and Poverty – an UPGro Scoping Study: An overview of a recent review of the links between groundwater and poverty

Richard Carter, Consultant

Geraint Burrows, Groundwater Relief

Sean Furey, Skat Foundation

Other presentations at the conference by UPGro and related partners included:

 

Groundwater – the earth’s renewable wealth

By Sean Furey, Skat Foundation/RWSN/UPGro

Where does wealth come from? At its most basic, it is the difference between how much you invest in a product or service and how much you get from selling it. If the difference is positive you get wealth, if it is negative then you get trouble.

For a country like Zambia, the biggest source of wealth comes from underground: copper, oil and many other minerals and metals. Every aspect of our lives, from fertilisers, to homes, to solar panels depends on what can be dug from the ground. The scale on which mining and quarrying is done varies from a single person digging a hole, to the world’s largest machines demolishing mountains. Mining is also an economic activity that stretches from the very local to the most globalised trade.

In that context, groundwater can also be seen as a mineral resource on which the wealth of a country depends, so it was great that UPGro and RWSN were invited by the University of Zambia to run a special session on hydrogeology in Africa at the International Conference on Geology, Mining, Mineral and Groundwater Resources of the Sub-Saharan Africa, held in Livingstone, Zambia, in July.

The conference was opened by the President of Zambia, HE Edgar Lungu, who stressed the importance of groundwater and mineral resources to the economy, society and environment of Zambia and Africa more widely.

He was followed by a keynote speech by UPGro Ambassador, Dr Callist Tindimugaya of the Ministry of Water & Environment Uganda who gave the 400+ audience an overview of exciting groundwater initiatives happening across Africa, in particular highlighting UPGro, GRIPP, RWSN’s work on drilling professionalisation,the Africa Groundwater Network and the re-boot of the AMCOW Africa Groundwater Commission which took place the following week in Dar es Salaam.

One of the eye-opening facts that was presented by the government during the event that more than half of electricity generated in Zambia is used by the mining industry and most of that is used for de-watering mines – pumping water out of the ground and dumping it – contaminated – into rivers. Clearly a change in mindset is needed to see groundwater as a source of wealth to be used wisely for the benefit of all, not a problem that sends money pouring down the drain.

photos: Dr Callist Tindimugaya gives a keynote presentation on Groundwater Resources Management in Sub-Saharan Africa: Status, Challenges and Prospects.

UPGro-RWSN Special Session on Hydrogeology in Africa and Drilling Professionalisation

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Afternoon:

Prof. Richard Carter scoops IAH Award

We are delighted that Professor Carter, a member of the UPGro Knowledge Broker team and Hidden Crisis project, received the first ever “Applied Hydrogeology Award” from the International Association of Hydrogeologists:

‘for “a groundwater professional who has made an outstanding contribution to the application of hydrogeology, preferably in developing countries or in support of international development”. Seven nominations were received and we are grateful to the panel of Johannes Barth, Jane Dottridge and Callist Tindimugaya for their careful considerations.

The award to Richard Carter recognises that he has practiced, taught and championed applied hydrogeology in developing countries throughout his career and continues to do so with energy, passion and wisdom. He communicates sound hydrogeological science and knowledge to governments, NGOs, donors and communities, and inspires young hydrogeologists to develop practical solutions to groundwater and water supply problems.

Three specific areas that fit him for this award stand out. Firstly, his work on applied hydrogeological science in Africa, including the use of shallow groundwater for small scale irrigation and the development and testing of low cost drilling methods. Secondly, his lifelong support for NGOs, ensuring that good hydrogeological science and practice is made known and available to practioners and policy makers. Thirdly, at Cranfield Richard has been instrumental for more than 20 years in teaching and motivating students from around the world to appreciate and take up the same practical approaches to their work. In his reply, Richard urged those starting out on a career in hydrogeology to apply their expertise in an inter-disciplinary manner to the big problems of poverty and water and food insecurity as a highly worthwhile and fulfilling vocation. He remarked that he was humbled to receive the award, being aware just how many other African and international hydrogeologists are equally or more deserving than himself and finally thanked his unknown nominator and the panel of judges.’

Sanitation and Water for All? a view from the SWA partner meeting

Last week, I attended the Sanitation & Water for All (SWA), partnership meeting in The Hague, Netherlands.

Skat Foundation is a member of the Research & Learning constituency of SWA and I was there, among other things, to represent RWSN, both to raise relevant issues from our network with SWA partners, but also to find out what SWA is doing that is relevant for those working in rural water services and groundwater management.

Continue reading Sanitation and Water for All? a view from the SWA partner meeting

Upcoming UK event – Groundwater, poverty and development

ODI Logo

Save the date: Friday 28th November 2014
Timing: 0900 – 1700, lunch provided.
Place: Overseas Development Institute, 203 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NJ, UK

To register to attend, or watch online, visit: www.odi.org/events/4037-groundwater-poverty-development and click on “Register”

This one-day meeting, jointly convened by the UPGro Knowledge Broker Team and ODI’s Water Policy Programme, will showcase current research and practice concerning groundwater and its role in poverty alleviation and development. The meeting will highlight research needs and identify good practices.

Continue reading Upcoming UK event – Groundwater, poverty and development