News and Blog

Resilience of Rural Groundwater Supplies to Climate Change

Key Note Presentation by Prof. Alan MacDonald @ 1st SADC Groundwater Conference
Keywords: (Drought, Climate, Change, Infrastructure, Groundwater Resources, Resilience).

Alan

“Recent droughts have highlighted the need to understand and forecast the resilience of water supplies to climate variability. Resilience of groundwater supplies is determined by several factors: groundwater storage; long term recharge; permeability; and the infrastructure put in place to abstract groundwater.

“Drawing on recent research from across Africa, mainly funded through the UPGro programme, this talk examines the relative importance of each of these factors for rural drinking water supplies, and attempts to distinguish between the behaviour of the groundwater resource and the water infrastructure.

“A variety of data are presented and evaluated: detailed groundwater level monitoring of springs, wells and boreholes; national survey data of borehole functionality; groundwater residence time indicators; and also information from GRACE and global Land Surface Model.”

Source: Conference Abstract

Photo: SADC-GMI (via Twitter)

Facing the groundwater threats and opportunities in Southern Africa

This week, regional and international water experts have converged on Johannesburg at the 1st Groundwater Conference of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The event has been convened by the SADC Groundwater Management Institute (GMI) in assocciation with a number of partners including GRIPP

UPGro has a strong presence at the event as part of the build-up to Africa Water Week next month, in Gabon:

  • Opening Keynote: Karen G. Villholth (GroFutures) and Jude Cobbing.
    “Adapting to Climate Change in the SADC Region – A Focus on Groundwater.”
  • Presentation: Theresa Mkandawire (Hidden Crisis) presented “An analysis of hand pump boreholes functionality in Malawi.”
  • Keynote speaker: Alan McDonald. (Hidden Crisis/GroFutures) “Resilience of rural
    groundwater supplies to climate change”
  • Presentation: Thokozani Mtewa,Evance Mwathunga and Wapulumuka Mulwafu.
    (Hidden Crisis) “They gave us breakfast and a good meal’: Roles, perceptions and
    motivations of water point area mechanics in the maintenance of borehole handpumps in Balaka district, Malawi.”
  • Keynote speaker: Dr Callist Tindimugaya “Groundwater and African National Development Strategies”

You can follow the conference on Twitter: #gwconference2018

photo : Prof Theresa Makandawire presenting UPGro Hidden Crisis work in Malawi (credit BGS via Twitter)

 

:: New UPGro Paper :: Understanding process, power, and meaning in adaptive governance

Two new social science papers from Hidden Crisis

Key Points from :

Understanding process, power, and meaning in adaptive governance: a critical institutional reading.

  • “Adaptive governance” has a number of core principles:
    • The need to live with change and uncertainty
    • To foster adaptive capacity (i.e. being able to anticipate and respond to change and uncertainty)
    • To understand human and natural systems as interconnected
    • To consider resilience as the central desirable attribute, e
  • One of two case studies focuses on a non-UPGro project, called SWAUM (2011-2016), in the Great Ruaha River catchment in Tanzania (which, by coincidence is one of the GroFutures observatories)
    • Concerns about the catchment arose in the 1990s and a number of donor-funded projects tried to improve the natural/water resource management of the catchment.
    • An evaluation of the SWAUM project had strengthened coordination both vertically and horizontally through hierarchies at different political levels.
    • Limited improvements in land management had taken place but despite the greater awareness, debate and agreement, local people continued to cultivate river banks and river beds to the detriment of the river flows – and despite a deliberate attempt to include marginalised people, they did not get significant representation from pastoralists. This may be in part due to a dominant narrative from other, more powerful, stakeholders that they are to blame for resource depletion.
  • Cleaver and Whaley conclude that the following three elements are inextricably bound together:
    • Process: institutions that are designed for adaptive governance (such as knowledge sharing platforms, resource management arrangements) may only work and endure where they serve other socially valued processes and are embedded in accepted forms of behaviour and practices.
    • Power: allocation or resources or dominance of particular narratives about cause-and-effect is driven by visible, hidden and invisible uses of power by individuals, social groups and organisations. This is often why designed interventions for adaptive governance often deliver less than expected.
    • Meaning: There different worldviews on cause and effect in the human and natural worlds and involve multiple processes that will likely affect adaptive governance arrangements.

 

:: New UPGro paper :: Insights from a Multi-method recharge comparison study (Ethiopia)

A new paper from AMGRAF UPGro Catalyst (which has continued with support from the REACH programme).

Walker, D. , Parkin, G. , Schmitter, P. , Gowing, J. , Tilahun, S. A., Haile, A. T. and Yimam, A. Y. (2018), Insights From a Multi‐Method Recharge Estimation Comparison Study. Groundwater. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gwat.12801

Key Points:

  • A recharge assessment was conducted at a study site in Northwest Ethiopia (Dangila woreda)
  • 9 groundwater recharge estimate techniques were used with a total of 17 variations were applied to a shallow aquifer
  • These gave a wide range of values from 45mm/year to 814 mm/year
  • The most reliable estimates for reliable recharge are in the range of 280 – 430 mm/year, however the outliers to provide some useful information that helps understand the aquifer

 

:: New UPGro paper :: Rainfall and groundwater use in rural Kenya

Thomson, P.; Bradley D,;Katilu;Katuva J.;Lanzonia, M.; Koehler J.; Hope, R. Rainfall and groundwater use in rural Kenya, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 649, 1 February 2019, Pages 722-730

Key Points

  • As part of the Gro for GooD study in Kwale County, Kenya, UPGro researchers noticed then when comparing data collected from 266 Smart Handpumps and 19 raingauges that:
    • there was a 68% reduction in pump use on the day immediately following heavy rain, as well as
    • a 34% reduction in groundwater use during the wet season compared to the dry season, suggesting a large shift from improved to unimproved sources in the wet season.
  • This data was compared to household survey data collected by the researchers, and the relationship between rainfall and pumping was modelled and tested.
  • In this area rainwater harvesting was widespread and only 6% of households reported handpumps as their sole source of drinking water in the wet season, compared to 86% in the dry season.
  • Whilst rainwater harvesting can be a safe source of water it requires the collection and storage to be well designed and built.
  • This work provides empirical evidence that the existence of improved water supplies does not guarantee their use and health benefits may not be as expected.

UPGro leading the groundwater governance and research debate at Africa Water Week

Africa Water Week is held every two years and this year brings it to Libreville, Gabon:

“The Africa Water Week (aww) is convened by the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) in conjunction with the African Union Commission and organized with other development partners. It represents a political commitment at the highest level with over 1000 participants from governments, regional institutions, international partners, the private sector, the scientific community, civil society, and the media from all over the world, and in particular Africa, meeting to discuss and collectively seek solutions to Africa’s water resources, and sanitation challenges.”

UPGro is proud to be a lead convener of Sub-Theme 3 on Water Governance, in partnership with AMCOW.

There will be two UPGro/AMCOW sessions at the week:

No. 10Thurs

1st Nov

 

16.00 – 17.30

 

Title Influencing Policy and Practice – the Africa Groundwater Commission and Research for Development
Convener AMCOW with UPGro (c/o Skat Foundation)
Co-Convener(s) UPGro is a programme of Universities and Research Institutions, together with the Africa Groundwater Network, International Association of Hydrogeologists, in partnership with country-level African water management institutions.
Contacts Dr Andrew Bullock (andybullock61@btinternet.com);
Objectives Based on its past and current status, AMCOW will present a future trajectory for the Africa Groundwater Commission. One key role will be to influence policy and practice around groundwater. UPGro will share experiences of Research for Development with a view to framing support to support operationalisation of the Commission.
Description The Africa Groundwater Commission is mandated by the African Union within the framework of the Africa Water Vision 2025 to help create “An Africa where groundwater resources are valued and utilized sustainably by empowered stakeholders”. On one hand, it is one arm of the established governance of the AU and AMCOW.The session will feature short presentations and panel discussion with leaders from research, government and international cooperation to highlight the key challenges for water management where stronger collaboration on bringing groundwater knowledge into policy and practice can deliver value through this established African instrument.

 

No. 7Thurs

1st Nov

 

09.00 – 10.30

Title Groundwater’s contribution to Africa’s Water Security
Conveners UPGro with AMCOW
Co-Convener(s)
Contacts Dr Andrew Bullock (andybullock61@btinternet.com);
Objectives To establish the relevance of groundwater within the overarching trajectory of Africa’s water security – including the Africa Water Vision, the SDGs, and National Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategies. To complement an authoritative baseline, recent research will highlight how innovation remains important to unlocking knowledge of groundwater’s potential and limits.
Description The session will feature a keynote presentation on Groundwater’s contribution to water security. A convened panel (including representatives from the Africa Groundwater Network and AMCOW) will give their national, sub-regional and pan-African perspectives. An open floor will allow for additional perspectives from the floor.

We hope all those are coming to the conference will make time for these engaging and important sessions. Find out more on the Africa Water Week website: https://africawaterweek.com

Thank you to the AMCOW Secretariat for their support plus the many partners in many different national, regional and global agencies who have supported this initiative.

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

Championing environmental sustainability in Malawi schools: inspiring the next generation

By Naomi Oates, Fiskani Kondowe, and Evance Mwathunga (UPGro Hidden Crisis)

 ‘This activity has been inspiring for us and we will work very hard to reach university and be able to carry out experiments using big machines which we have seen from your presentations’ – a learner at Pirimiti Secondary School, in Zomba district

In March 2018 a team of motivated scientists from ‘Malawi Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics’ (MAGSTEM) at Chancellor College, a scholar from the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures (University of Sheffield) facilitated by an UPGro researcher teamed up to reach out to disadvantaged schools in Zomba, Malawi. The talks were inspired by our realisation from UPGro research survey that learners in rural schools in Malawi, in spite of their curiosity to know what we were doing in our groundwater research, they lacked knowledge regarding environmental sustainability including water. The aim of the workshops, therefore, was to encourage students to care for their local environment and to inspire them to pursue careers in the sciences.

Photos 2 & 3: The water purification experiment

During the workshops students from Naisi and Pirimiti Secondary Schools brainstormed the threats to water resources in their area, highlighting deforestation, pollution and climate change as big challenges. Groups of girls and boys then tried a simple water purification experiment using a plastic bottle, cloth filter and (the magic ingredient) activated charcoal. They were excited to find that it really works! After a few minutes, clean water started to appear at the bottom of the bottle. Not only does the cloth filter out big particles but the charcoal acts as a coagulant for the smaller particles, making they stick together in lumps. This process is very similar to the methods used in real-life water treatment works – places that these students could work in future as water chemists or engineers.

The MAGSTEM volunteers concluded with an inspiring talk about career options and promised to return with more information. As a team, we were very impressed by the bright sparks we met at Naisi and Pirimiti Secondary Schools and encouraged them to work hard for their exams. Several students said they were keen to study at university in future, in subjects like medicine, chemistry or maths. We hope to welcome them soon!

In his concluding remarks, the Naisi head teacher wrapped it all:

‘We appreciate your effort of showing the students that science is fun and that students can be innovative and resourceful by using locally available resources to better their lives. Your talk has cleared the myths and stereotypes among our rural learners especially girls that science is tough ’.

Photo credits: Naomi Oates, Fiskani Kondowe, and Evance Mwathunga

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

:: New UPGro paper :: Participatory scenario analysis for urban water and sanitation: Kisumu, Kenya case study

“A participatory methodology for future scenario analysis of sub-national water and sanitation access: case study of Kisumu, Kenya” by Heather Price, Lorna. G. Okotto, Joseph Okotto-Okotto, Steve Pedley & Jim Wright: https://doi.org/10.1080/02508060.2018.1500343 from the UPGro Catalyst Project “Sustaining groundwater safety in peri-urban areas

Context:

  • Many cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, and other low and middle income countries, are growing fast. Expansion of water supply systems to meet that growing demand is challenging, particularly in the context of climate change and competing water uses, such as agriculture.
  • Scenario planning, with geographical information systems, is an essential tool to help government bodies and utilities plan investments in urban and peri-urban water supply infrastructure and services, but examples in developing countries remain rare and have generally been rural.
  • The case study, Kisumu, is a city in Western Kenya near the shores of Lake Victoria. The Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company (KIWASCO) has responsibility across the city.

Key Points:

  • 12 key informants with particular insights into the water and sanitation sector, social and economic planning and human population dynamics were identified and included in two sessions: (1) Background information and future trajectories of population growth; (2) computer software called “International Futures” was used to explore different population scenarios, which formed the basis of discussions on water and sanitation planning for the city in three groups.
  • Through the participatory planning in separate groups it was possible to draw out where areas of consensus and uncertainty about how the city, and its demand for water and sanitation will change. One area of common agreement was that groundwater and on-site sanitation will remain an important part of the mix until at least 2030, which implies and longer-term need for interventions like household filters, chlorine dispensers at well heads, education or land tenure reforms to enable sewerage installation.
  • Future research should focus on a broader range of scenarios than just extending current trends in population change, for example: ethnic conflict, social fragmentation, and rapid, Chinese-led infrastructure development.

 

Related UPGro work on urban groundwater or groundwater for urban areas:

 

Picture: Figure 5. Map of household water access by 2030 for sub-locations in and neighbouring Kisumu, Kenya, assuming continuity of current trends and policies, as envisaged by break-out groups 1, 2 and 3.