Rapid urban population growth has led to a boom in private well construction to access groundwater supplies. Evidence from four Indian cities highlights the need for coherent public policy to harmonise private and public investment in urban water supply. By Mohammad Faiz Alam and Stephen Foster.
by Sean Furey (Skat/UPGro Knowledge Broker) in GeoDrilling International
Drilling for water is only useful if there is good water to be had now and into the future. Since 2013, researchers in the UK-funded programme Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor, have been working all over Africa to understand better the continent’s aquifers and how their hidden wealth can be used to benefit everyone. Now after years of patient work, exciting results and resources are emerging.
One is that the Africa Groundwater Atlas, curated by the British Geological Survey now has downloadable GIS maps for 38 countries. They are quite large scale, so not detailed enough for individual borehole siting, but a good starting point for identifying where major aquifers are. This supports the wealth of other useful information, in English and French, on the soils, climate and groundwater use in all 52 of Africa’s countries.
AMCOW, the intergovernmental apex body on water in Africa, was established in 2002 with its secretariat in Abuja, Nigeria, to provide political oversight and promote cooperation, security, social and economic development, and poverty eradication among member states.
The aim is to achieve this through the effective management of the continent’s water resources, and the provision of water supply and sanitation services.In recognition of the importance of groundwater to the continent’s sustainable development, a continent-wide strategic groundwater initiative was part of the resolution of AMCOW’s Sixth Ordinary Session in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, in May 2007.
While initial ambitions evolved around formalizing the initiative as an African Groundwater Commission, subsequent attempts and further analysis carried out at several meetings, including the Technical Advisory Meeting and Africa Groundwater Stakeholders Workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 2017, and the 7th Africa Water Week in Libreville, Gabon, in 2018, resulted in the initiative being invigorated as the strategic APAGroP.
APAGroP strongly aligns with the AMCOW strategy for the period 2018-2030, guiding its activities and the continent towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as the Africa Water Vision 2025 and the AfricaSan Ngor Commitments for sanitation and hygiene.
Dr. Canisius Kanangire, Executive Secretary, AMCOW, expressed his appreciation and satisfaction with the present momentum, and support towards consolidating and further rolling out the Pan-African Groundwater Program (APAGroP).
The Experts’ and Stakeholders’ workshop provided background presentations of APAGroP as well as fruitful deliberation on the state of knowledge and management of groundwater in the African continent.
Presentations were made by AMCOW, international and African research institutions, Regional Economic Communities:
- Economic Community of Central African States [ECCAS],
- Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS],
- Intergovernmental Authority on Development [IGAD],
- Southern African Development Community [SADC]),
international and intergovernmental organizations:
- Center for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe [CEDARE],
- Observatoire du Sahara et du Sahel [OSS]), as well as key international river basin organizations
- African Network of Basin Organizations [ANBO]) and financing institutions.
The workshop was supported by AMCOW; a recent Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) networking grant to the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the British Geological Survey (BGS); and the successful research program – Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor (UPGro),
It helped crystalize a way forward in further harnessing and harvesting best knowledge and practice around groundwater to support sustainable development in the continent. GRIPP was strongly represented at the workshop through the following partners:
- Africa Groundwater Network (AGW-Net);
- Association of Water Well Drilling Rig Owners and Practitioners (AWDROP);
- BGS; Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Germany;
- International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH);
- International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC);
- Skat Consulting Ltd. (Skat);
- The World Bank (WB); and
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – International Hydrological Programme (UNESCO-IHP).
These partners expressed strong interest in further supporting the rollout of APAGroP.
We are delighted to announce that the latest UPGro Working Paper is now out and ready for download.
Edited by Dr Kirsty Upton and Dr Kerstin Danert, this paper has been prepared by researchers within the UPGro (Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor) Programme, along with colleagues from the International Association of Hydrogeologists, Africa Groundwater Network, and GRIPP.
It is intended as a working paper, presenting a summary of our current understanding of groundwater in Africa along four themes:
- urban water security,
- socially inclusive and sustainable rural water services,
- groundwater for agricultural growth and transformation, and
- groundwater resources and renewability.
Achieving water security for Africa presents a challenge, particularly given the increasing pressures on water resources related to population growth, climate change, rising living standards and land use change. Water security can be defined as the availability of an acceptable quantity and quality of water for health, livelihoods, ecosystems and production, coupled with an acceptable level of water-related risks to people, environments and economies (Grey & Sadoff, 2007).
Groundwater – the fresh water naturally stored in rocks beneath the ground surface – makes a significant contribution to the security of water supplies for both domestic and productive uses across the African continent. Its importance and use are increasing markedly.
Groundwater can help achieve universal and equitable access to resilient water services for both rural and urban populations in Africa. With the relevant methods and expertise, groundwater can be found across much of Africa, with even the least productive aquifers often capable of providing sufficient yields to supply communities with handpumps or low-intensity, small-scale irrigation schemes. The volume of water stored underground in Africa – estimated to be 20 times more than the freshwater stored in lakes and reservoirs – can also provide a critical buffer against short-term rainfall variability, making groundwater reserves less vulnerable than surface waters to drought. Groundwater is also less vulnerable to contamination.
The implications of resilient, safe, and sustainable water services for all, where groundwater forms a critical part of an integrated approach to water resource management, are significant and wide-reaching in terms of national growth, economic development and poverty reduction. Groundwater development is not, however, without risks. Securing equitable access to groundwater for both domestic and productive uses across rural and urban Africa requires a detailed understanding of groundwater resources coupled with adequate governance arrangements so that the potential gains of groundwater investment can be balanced against the associated risks for people, the environment, and the economy.
re-posted from GRIPP
This book is especially unique in that it not only explains a wide range of issues associated with groundwater governance, but it also provides water industry professionals, decision-makers and local stakeholders with a suite of solutions for a heuristic approach to managing this extremely important resource.
Advances in Groundwater Governance was edited by Karen G. Villholth (IWMI), Elena López-Gunn (ICATALIST, Spain, and University of Leeds, UK), Kirstin Conti (International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC) and University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands), Alberto Garrido (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, and Water Observatory of the Botín Foundation, Spain), and Jac van der Gun (Van der Gun Hydro-Consulting, The Netherlands). The publication was sponsored by CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems, Botín Foundation and IGRAC.
The publisher CRC Press – Taylor & Francis Group is acknowledged for providing free access of the book after one year of its first release.
For more information on the book, please, proceed to this page.
On 6 September, the Swiss Water Partnership organised a learning event for partners on “Assessment of Surface and Groundwater” featuring a variety of talks and discussions relating to both domestic water resources and in development cooperation contexts. The event was hosted by the Centre for Development and Cooperation (NADAL) at ETH Zurich.
Sean Furey, from Skat/UPGro Knowledge Broker team, presented the Africa Groundwater Atlas, and discussed issues around groundwater information and assessment, not just for Africa but for development cooperation more generally and the role that organisations in Switzerland, such as Skat, World Vision, SDC, NADAL, University of Neuchatel and others can play in supporting such efforts.
Also presented at the event was Eawag’s Groundwater Assessment Platform, and SDC/University of Neuchatel groundwater mapping and recharge research in Chad. For links to all the presentations visit the Swiss Water Partnership
- You can find the Africa Groundwater Atlas here
by Sean Furey, Skat Foundation / UPGro Knowledge Broker Team
AGUASAN Workshop: “Leveraging the data revolution Informed decision-making for better water and sanitation management” June 25th to 29th 2018, Spiez, Switzerland
AGUASAN is the Swiss Community of Practice for water and sanitation that has been running since 1984 and comprises regular meetings through the year and an annual week-long workshop focused on a specific topic, which this year was around role of data in decision-making in water and sanitation services. Around 40 participants attended at a really great training facility in Spiez, in central Switzerland. They came, not just from Swiss organisations, but from a wide range of partners (many who are active RWSN members). There were participants from Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Mozambique, Peru, Thailand, Mali, Pakistan, Benin, Egypt, Mongolia, the UK, South Africa, US and many more. I was attending on behalf of RWSN, UPGro and REACH because the network and both research programmes have a lot to share on this topic.
by Sean Furey, RWSN Secretariat/UPGro Knowledge Broker Team, re-posted from RWSN
UN Water, the body that coordinates water issues across the United Nations, is currently running a consultation in its draft report: “SDG 6 Synthesis Report 2018 on Water and Sanitation”. You can read the report and add give your feedback. Below are some comments that I have posted in the dialogue section:
With water shortages in Cape Town, South Africa, hitting headlines worldwide, it was timely that the African Water Association (AfWA) convened their 19th Congress in Bamado, Mali around the theme of “Accelerating access to sanitation and water for all in Africa amidst the challenges of climate change”.
We were extremely fortunate that Dr Anne Bousquet of the Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Association (GWOPA) was able to attend and present the UPGro urban groundwater study led by Prof. Stephen Foster last year. Her presentation was entitled “Groundwater – rational use to enhance urban water security under global change” [download presentation] .
Anne reflects on the presentation and the discussion with participants: Continue reading Is the Cape Town Time-bomb coming your way? Water Ministries and Operators need to do more to keep the water flowing
A major new publication has been released on the vital topic of groundwater governance, which addresses some of the major questions being faced worldwide on how is such a vital common resource managed for the benefit of all.
The issue of unlocking the potential of groundwater for the poor is explored in the chapter on groundwater governance for poverty eradication, social equity and health, by UPGro Knowledge Broker, Sean Furey, from Skat Foundation:
Groundwater use and its governance should serve a purpose that is well defined and has a broadly accepted mandate, without it, there is a risk that benefits will accrue to existing elites only for their own benefits.
Access to safe, affordable water is a recognised Human Right and a Sustainable Development Goal because it is critical for the health and wellbeing of every person in the world. Groundwater represents 96% of all liquid freshwater in the world and so any discussion about groundwater is also a discussion about human rights, development, health and social equity.
Groundwater is used in many different ways, many uncontrolled and unmonitored and this can cause substantial problems – even causing cities to sink below sea level. Recent recommendations on improving groundwater governance may not be adequately aligned with the Human Right to Water or giving sufficient priority to poverty alleviation.
However, groundwater use unlocks the potential of human ingenuity, cooperation and enterprise that can build the foundations for health, resilient livelihoods in the face of growing global uncertainties.
The three areas identified for further focus are:
- increase understanding of the links between groundwater use and poverty;
- improve understanding and management of private ‘self supply’ groundwater sources;
- improve the training and professionalisation around groundwater technology innovation and scaling up.
“Advances in Groundwater Governance” is available from CRC Press