BRAVE: Building understanding of climate variability into planning of groundwater supplies from low storage aquifers in Africa

BRAVEThe BRAVE project will provide an essential ingredient for evidence-based mitigation and adaptation policies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Through working directly with stakeholders through face-to-face meetings and the planned workshops in each country, we aim to develop water demand scenarios to inform the modelling, based on current domestic, agricultural and productive use needs, set within the context of the contemporaneous impacts on, for example, groundwater-based irrigation schemes in the River Volta Basin.

Catalyst Phase →

THE BIG IDEA

We can build better ways to model and communicate the complex environmental changes in the Sahel region of West Africa and use that to improve the long term planning of groundwater supplies and provide early warnings of groundwater shortages so that the most vulnerable families and communities are more resilient to drought.

RESEARCH AIM / HYPOTHESIS

That by using integrated governance, the long term use of groundwater can reduce the vulnerability of poor people in the Volta River Basin, in West Africa, in the face of a variable climate and changes to the local environment, society and economy.

STUDY DESCRIPTION

Secure access to water by the rural poor in Africa is central to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. With more than 500 million Africans dependent on groundwater and the potential for expanded use, the resilience of aquifers in the face of climate, population growth, and land-use change is key to this. Evidence suggests however, that during extended periods of low rainfall, groundwater supplies from low storage aquifers can fail. It is unclear, therefore, whether planned development of substantial numbers of groundwater supplies as a means to meet the expected large increase in demand, will be effective in all areas of sub-Saharan Africa. In the absence of long historical records of borehole levels, we are reliant on process understanding and modelling to infer the stability of groundwater supplies.

In partnership with national and local government, NGOs and researchers, the BRAVE project will incorporate new understandings of climate variability and observational capacity and its water resource impacts into the planning and operation of groundwater supplies in the Volta River Basin. As a result of improved understanding of how water moves through catchments representative of the Volta River Basin, new scientific knowledge will allow appropriate tools to be developed for planning at a range of scales: basin-scale long-term regional planning of aquifer-based water supplies for domestic and productive uses; local-scale long-term and seasonal community management of groundwater supplies; and provision of information that allows timely emergency planning in the light of developing drought conditions. Information provided to communities includes Rainwatch information primarily through radio broadcast which are community driven workshops referred to as community listening groups.

Project design and national policy institutional framework

Because the BRAVE project is interdisciplinary and multi-layered, the project design is imperative to understanding how it aims to inform national and regional policy frameworks.

This multi layered project design allows stakeholders to understand complex processes that lead to groundwater recharge, the equally complex social structures that determine groundwater access and use, and the policy planning and governance that is required to bring about sustainable change to groundwater resources.

By ensuring that there are continuous feedback loops in place, and that all the stakeholders are involved in each key step, BRAVE provides a framework for new, in-country communication structures that allow information to be explained through appropriate formats, at appropriate times to a range of different users. This allows the information to be embedded into existing institutional structures that support seasonal, medium and longer term groundwater and agricultural planning in Ghana and Burkina Faso.

RESEARCH ORGANISATIONS

RESEARCH TEAM

WORKING IN:

  • Burkina Faso
  • Ghana

Visit the BRAVE website

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