AMCOW launches its Pan-African Groundwater Program

re-posted from GRIPP

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.

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Dr. Karen Villholth, Leader of IWMI’s Research Group on Resilient and Sustainable Groundwater, emphasized the strength in partnerships in bringing forward the agenda of APAGroP (photo: AMCOW).

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);
  • IWMI;
  • 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.

Photo: AMCOW

Download now: Groundwater’s Contribution to Water Security in Africa

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:

  1. urban water security,
  2. socially inclusive and sustainable rural water services,
  3. groundwater for agricultural growth and transformation, and
  4. 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.

Download now

 

‘Advances in Groundwater Governance’ – book now free to download

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.

Use this flyer for a promotional discount if you plan to purchase the book: Advances in Groundwater Governance 

Use this link if you want to access the free soft copy(pdf 15 MB).

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.

Africa Groundwater Atlas in Switzerland

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

photo: SWP

Sharing experiences of data flows in water and sanitation – some reflections from AGUASAN Workshop 2018

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.

Continue reading Sharing experiences of data flows in water and sanitation – some reflections from AGUASAN Workshop 2018

Responding to UN-Water SDG6 synthesis on water and sanitation – value of groundwater needs stronger representation

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:

Continue reading Responding to UN-Water SDG6 synthesis on water and sanitation – value of groundwater needs stronger representation

Is the Cape Town Time-bomb coming your way? Water Ministries and Operators need to do more to keep the water flowing

by Sean Furey (Skat) & Dr Anne Bousquet (GWOPA/UN-Habitat)

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

New publication: “Advances in Groundwater Governance”

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

UPGro takes advice from leading African experts

The day before the 2017 Ineson Lecture, a meeting was held in the Council Chamber of the Geological Society in London at which the project leaders, programme board members from NERC and DFID, and the Knowledge Broker team met with three of the UPGro Ambassadors: Dr Callist Tindimugaya, Ministry of Water & Environment, Uganda; Prof. Moustapha Diene, U. Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegal; Prof. Muna Mirghani, Technische Universität Berlin.

Prof. Richard Carter made opening remarks on behalf of the Knowledge Broker team welcoming everyone to the event followed an icebreaker exercise so that everyone in the room got to know each other.

The aim of the workshop was to bring together representatives from the UPGro Consortia, the Knowledge Broker team, the Programme Executive Board (PEB), and the UPGro Ambassadors to reflect on the progress of the UPGro programme to date and to set the priorities for maximising the impact of the research over the next 2 years. It was the first opportunity for the Ambassadors to share their experiences of the challenges and opportunities facing groundwater resources across Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in relation to improving opportunities for the poor.

The three UPGro Ambassadors who were present gave a short overview of their backgrounds, their current role and their personal and professional interests in African groundwater research, development and management. They were all co-founders of the African Groundwater Network.

Prof. Dr Moustapha Diene

  • Senior Assistant Professor
  • Started in surface water
  • Interested in capacity development and practical knowledge of groundwater (manager of AGW-Net)
  • Groundwater is mysterious and difficult to illustrate

Prof. Dr Muna Mirghani

  • Visiting Professor lecturing in IWRM and runs WaterTrac consultancy in Sudan
  • Started in civil engineering
  • Interested in groundwater within IWRM implementation and governance (including catchment frameworks and transboundary issues) and drought governance.

Dr Callist Tindimugaya

  • Commissioner for Water Resources Planning & Regulation
  • Has worked for the Government since 1990 on water and groundwater in particular.
  • Interested in getting groundwater high on the agenda of political leaders and funders.

Each Ambassador presented an overview of what they see as the key issues facing the understanding, use and management of groundwater in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Using posters that had been created at a previous UPGro workshop (in Montpellier, Sept 2016), members from each of the five projects, plus Brighid from the Africa Groundwater Atlas, gave concise overviews of what each study is trying to achieve and summary of some of the early findings that are emerging.

After the presentations in the morning, the afternoon focused on discussions that pulled together the various strands of the conversation so far and some important questions to the Ambassadors on ways that the UPGro research can create more impact:

How do we move beyond conventional dissemination pathways and in what form do we deliver that information?

  • Be ready to share now what is being done, not waiting until the end. Otherwise, there is a danger that stakeholders think you have an agenda. Use national fora like Joint Sector Reviews and sector working groups to get some feedback and build appetite for your research. Remember to use simple language but not to over-simplify your message.
  • Politicians need to be approached indirectly. Decisions are made at a technical level. Build confidence in the results. Politicians learn through their assistants.

Other observations on research into action:

  • An important role for the Knowledge Broker is to interpret results and make them as non-technical as possible, without misrepresenting the extent to which the results answer the questions that decision-makers may have;
  • Corruption: can lead to evidence being completely ignored, and is difficult to deal with;
  • Political leaders have to make socially acceptable trade-offs, and are aware that citizens en masse have power through votes and demonstrations;
  • It is important to be neutral and not to frame evidence to push a specific gender;
  • Where are the influencing opportunities on the horizon?
  • Peer-to-peer learning between countries, River Basin Organisations, governments, donors can be an important uptake mechanism for new evidence;
  • Good short, punchy stories are important because they can be used as anecdotes to explain why UPGro is a great programme. These stories should not be afraid to cut-across projects where there is a common topic, such as finance, gender, climate change or governance.

Sum-up by Richard Carter

1. Integration of social and physical sciences : each project is taking a slightly different approach;

2. Synthesising: We need to get the messages right; there are some assumption about groundwater responses to wider changes (population growth, climate change) that shouldn’t be taken for granted;

3. There are variety of non-specialist audiences and we need to cater for that, from school children to senior government advisors;

4. We need to elevate the conversation beyond groundwater to the wider issues around food security, environment, industrialisation and employment.

5. We should be more confident about the positioning of groundwater – most of the world’s fresh water is groundwater so our communication should be too shy about that.

From the left – Moustapha Diene; Brighid Ó Dochartaigh, Muna Mirghani, Callist Tindimugaya, Richard Taylor, Alan MacDonald, Rob Hope, Kirsty Upton, Mohammad Shamsudduha, Tom Doyle, Michelle Truman, Jan Willem Foppen. (Not in the picture: Richard Carter, Ken Wright, Ken de Souza, Sean Furey)

UPGro Knowledge Broker, Kerstin Danert, wins IAH Award

Dr Kerstin Danert, Skat Foundation, who is a member of the UPGro Knowledge Broker team and Chairs UPGro’s Programme Coordination Group (PCG) has been given the “Distinguished Associate Award, 2017” by the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) for her outstanding contribution improving the use of groundwater worldwide.

Kerstin has been a driving force behind the Rural Water Supply Network, and in particular the promotion of drilling professionalisation and documentation of manual drilling practices. In addition to working on UPGro, she is currently leading an RWSN collaboration between UNICEF and Skat Foundation on professionalising water well drilling in Africa, which includes capacity development activities in Angola, Burkina Faso and Zambia.