Country profiles

Compiled and edited by Heather Plumpton, The Walker Institute, Reading University, UK, and Sean Furey, Skat Foundation, Switzerland

Burkina Faso

Estimates indicate that over the whole country, groundwater abstraction (pumping) is only a small proportion of recharge – less than 1% in the Volta basin, and more than 5% in the far north.

Generally, groundwater in Burkina Faso is of suitable quality for drinking water supplies, although there are local problems.

Groundwater in Burkina Faso is primarily accessed by unprotected dug wells and used mainly for drinking water supply, particularly for small supplies in rural areas and smaller towns.


Annual renewable groundwater resources are estimated at around 36,000 million cubic metres (36 billion cubic metres), with estimates of total groundwater storage varying from 1,000 to 10,000 billion m³.

An estimated 30% of groundwater storage is not available for direct use because of high salinity and/or high fluoride, which have health risks.

Groundwater provides more than 90% of the water used for domestic and industrial supply in Ethiopia, but a very small proportion of water used for irrigation, which mostly comes from surface water.


Few direct studies have been done on groundwater recharge in Ghana: those that have been done are largely for areas in the northern half of the country.

Available data from past studies indicate that groundwater abstracted from boreholes in Ghana is generally of good chemical and microbiological quality and thus suitable for domestic (including drinking), agricultural and industrial uses. However, there are particular problems with the quality of groundwater in certain places.

Over 95% of groundwater use in Ghana is for domestic water supply, mostly in rural areas and small towns.


Some aquifers are identified as being over-abstracted with associated problems of water level decline and sometimes water quality deterioration, in particular the Nairobi volcanic aquifer.

Many parts of Kenya rely on groundwater, either directly from privately owned or communal boreholes, or via piped supplies from groundwater wellfields. Groundwater from communal boreholes or hand-dug wells supplies most of the rural population.

Kenya shares several transboundary aquifers with neighbouring countries


Malawi is one of the smallest countries in Africa, bordered entirely by other countries and to the east by Lake Malawi, which makes up about a third of Malawi’s area.

Malawi has abundant surface water resources, both Lake Malawi and many large perennial rivers flowing from the highland areas. However, most rural Malawians rely on groundwater for their domestic supply, and groundwater is increasingly used for irrigation by smallholder farmers.


Tanzania has relatively abundant water resources, with relatively high, but seasonal, rainfall and a number of major rivers and lakes.

Groundwater is a vital source for both rural and urban water supply schemes in Tanzania. Towns such as Dar es Salaam, Singida, Babati, Arusha, Moshi and Dodoma depend largely on groundwater for public water supply. Many rural water schemes are also built on groundwater sources. Most sources consist of boreholes with electric or hand pumps.


Groundwater is the main source of domestic water supply for most people in rural areas, and for public water supply systems in around 75% of all urban areas. Groundwater is also used for industry, for example in Kampala City for several mineral water and chemical industries.

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