Ministerial body goes underground in search for water solution amid climate change

by Isaiah Esipisu for PAMACC News Agency

KAMPALA, Uganda (PAMACC News) – As climatic conditions continue to disrupt normal rainfall patterns, drying up rivers and streams, the African Ministers’ Council on Water is now seeking to understand groundwater, following numerous studies that have shown that it is key to building resilience.

“The volume of groundwater in Africa is estimated at 0.66 million km3, which is more than 100 times the annual renewable freshwater resources, but since it is hidden underground, it remains under-valued and underutilized,” said Dr Paul Orengoh, the Director of Programs at African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW).

This comes after a recent study led by scientists from University College London (UCL)and published in the Nature Journal suggested that groundwater in the Sub Saharan Africa region was resilient to extreme climate conditions, making it a key resource for climate change adaptation.

To examine how groundwater is replenished, Prof Richard Taylor of UCL together with several other scientists from different institutions abroad and in collaboration with their counterparts in Africa examined how different aquifers behaved with different rainfall patterns.

“Our results suggest that the intense rainfall brought about by global warming strongly favours the renewal of groundwater resources,” said Prof Taylor noting that over half the world’s population is predicted to live in the tropics by 2050, and therefore dependence on groundwater as a resource will continue to rise.

And now, AMCOW has formed an initiative that will help member states understand their water resources, manage it sustainable, and use it for poverty alleviation in their respective countries.

“The AMCOW Pan-African Groundwater Programme shortened as APAGroP seeks to improve the policy and practice of groundwater in Africa for better lives and livelihoods in all the 55 member countries,” said Orengoh.

Studies have shown that at least 320 million people in Africa lack access to safe water supplies, and therefore developing groundwater resources sustainably, according to experts, is a realistic way of meeting this need across Africa.

APAGroP therefore comes in to bridge the knowledge deficits gap around groundwater on the continent.

Through the initiative, AMCOW seeks to support Member States to develop, manage, and utilize water resources to assure water, food and energy security in Africa. “WASH has historically attracted prime attention. Strategy is raising the priority given to water for food, energy and industrial production,” said Orengoh.

Speaking at the recently concluded African Water Association (AfWA) Congress in Kampala Uganda, Dr Callist Tindimugaya, the Commissioner for Water Resources Planning and Regulation Ministry of Water and Environment in Uganda said that there is need to to support and implement APAGrop- from transboundary to local scale.

“APAGrop should have a strong link with all Regional Economic Communities, River Basin Organisations and member states for easy implementation,” he said. “These regional organisations and member states can contribute through actual implementation on the ground, capacity building, resource mobilization, and advocacy,” noted Dr Tindimugaya.

Apart from regional platforms and member states, AMCOW seeks to work in close collaboration with consumptive sectors, which include agriculture, water supply, industry, among others through appropriate platforms.
Others are research-to-use organizations and associations such as the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH), Civil Society Organisations, the private sector and international bodies and organisations.

“By the end of the day, we expect to have increased knowledge base on groundwater resources, strengthened groundwater networks, strengthened capacity for groundwater development and management across all member states, and strengthened multi-purpose and sustainable use of groundwater to enhance water and food security and climate resilience,” said Dr Orengoh.

Hand-pumps for deeper groundwater key to climate resilience for rural communities

by Isaiah Esipisu for the PAMACC News Agency

Photo:  A hydrogeologist measuring the water table in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (I. Esipisu)

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) –  new study has revealed that use of hand-pumped boreholes to access deeper groundwater is the most resilient way of adapting to droughts caused by climate change for rural communities in Ethiopia and other parts of Africa.

This comes amid concerns by scientists that the resource, which is hidden underground, is not well understood on the continent especially in the Sub Saharan Africa region.

According to a new study that compared performances of rural water supply techniques during drought periods in Ethiopia, scientists from the British Geological Survey (BGS) in collaboration with their colleagues from Addis Ababa University found that boreholes accessing deep (30 meters or more) groundwater were resilient to droughts.

The study, which was published in the Nature scientific Journal on March 4, further found that boreholes fitted with hand-pumps, had highest overall functionality during the monitoring period compared to motorised pumps in.

“While motorised boreholes generally also access even deeper groundwater, repairs [in rural settings] are more difficult and may take longer, resulting in lower levels of functionality as compared to hand-pumps,” explained Dr Donald John MacAllister, the lead author and a hydrogeologist from the British Geological Survey.

At the same time, the scientists observed that springs, open sources and protected wells experienced large declines in functionality, undermining, in particular, the water security of many lowland households who rely on these source types.

“By comparison, motorised, and crucially hand-pumped, boreholes which access deeper groundwater performed best during the drought,” said Seifu Kebede, a former Associate Professor of Hydrogeology for Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, and one of the researchers. Prof Kabede has since moved to the University of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa.

In collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Addis Ababa University and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), experts at the BGS examined the performance of a wide range of water source types, using a unique dataset of more than 5000 individual water points collected by UNICEF in rural Ethiopia during the 2015-16 drought.

In August last year, another study headed by scientists from the University College London (UCL) refuted earlier beliefs that groundwater was susceptible to climate change, and instead confirmed that extreme climate events characterised by floods were extremely significant in recharging groundwater aquifers in drylands across sub-Saharan Africa, making them important for climate change adaptation.

“Our study reveals, for the first time, how climate plays a dominant role in controlling the process by which groundwater is restocked,” said Richard Taylor, a Professor of Hydrogeology at the UCL.

However, experts believe that for African continent to take advantage of the groundwater resources, there is need to invest in research, in order to understand the nature of aquifers underground, how they are recharged, their sizes, their geography, how they behave in different climatic conditions, the quality of water therein, and how they can be protected.

According to Prof Daniel Olago, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Geology, University of Nairobi, in Africa, groundwater in Africa remains a hidden resource that has not been studied exhaustively.
“When people want to access groundwater, they ask experts to go out there and do a hydro-geophysical survey basically to site a borehole without necessarily understanding the characteristics of that particular aquifer,” he said.

African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) estimates the volume of groundwater in Africa to be 0.66 million km3, which is more than 100 times the annual renewable freshwater resources. “But since it is hidden underground, it remains under-valued and underutilised,” said Dr Paul Orengoh, the Director of Programs at the council’s secretariat.

In October last year during a meeting in Nairobi, AMCOW launched an initiative that will help member states understand their groundwater resources, manage it sustainable, and use it for poverty alleviation in their respective countries.

According to Dr Orengoh, the AMCOW Pan-African Groundwater Programme (APAGroP) seeks to improve the policy and practice of groundwater in Africa for better lives and livelihoods in all the 55 member countries.

The BGS has already developed the ‘Africa Groundwater Atlas,’ which is a literature archive that avails all information about groundwater in Africa, published and unpublished (grey) on an online platform.

“Our aim is to provide a systematic summary of groundwater resources for each African country, compiled in collaboration with country hydrogeologists,” said Dr Kirsty Upton, a Hydrologist at the BGS.

So far, millions of households in Africa rely on groundwater for domestic and partly for agriculture production. However, scientists still believe that the resource is largely underutilised.

Studies have indicated that at least 320 million people in Africa lack access to safe water supplies. The problem is further exacerbated by frequent droughts caused by climate change.

“If well understood, groundwater has the potential of bridging the water scarcity gap, thus, reducing poverty on the African continent,” Prof Olago told PAMACC News.

The study in Ethiopia recommends investment in motorised boreholes and most importantly, investment in hand-pumps.

“In the face of climate change, the resilience of rural water supplies in East Africa is best achieved by prioritising access to groundwater via multiple improved sources and a portfolio of technologies, supported by on-going monitoring and responsive and proactive operation and maintenance,” said Dr MacAllister.

“What remains a major concern is lack of access to appropriate skills and expertise, spare parts and, for motorised systems the fuel, that is required to keep rural water supplies functioning, factors that are particularly challenging to ensure when demand on water sources increases during drought.”

 

APAGroP: A continental coalition is set in motion to support sustainable groundwater use across Africa

By Karen Villholth re-posted from GRIPP
Principal Researcher, International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

Across Africa, groundwater, held within soil and rock formations beneath the surface, provides fresh drinking water for around 70 percent of people. With its wide distribution and perennial availability, it is the chosen water supply for most rural communities, and, increasingly, within urban areas. As such, it forms the backbone of water security and climate resilience across the continent.

Continue reading APAGroP: A continental coalition is set in motion to support sustainable groundwater use across Africa

Groundwater Science meets Policy at AfWA Congress

Day 2 of the AfWA Congress in Kampala, and the UPGro-convened stream of groundwater sessions got underway. First up was  session focusing on the AMCOW Pan-African Groundwater Program (APAGroP), with an opening by AMCOW Executive Secretary, Dr Canisius Kanangire, followed by a panel, featuring Tim Sumner from DFID

This was followed by two further sessions with lively presentations and Q&A on UPGro research from GroFutures and T-GroUP. Tomorrow, further sessions will include presentations from UPGro researchers and other close groundwater partners, including BGR.  These few days have been a culmination of many years work to bring UPGro researchers close to others working on African groundwater and to policy makers at the continental and national levels.

Afterwards, Isaiah Esipisu caught up with Dr Paul Orengoh who explained the aims and progress of APAGRoP:

(Photos; Isaiah Esipisu/Kirsty Upton)

Live Now: #AfWAGroundwater2020

photo: Dr Kerstin Danert facilitating this morning’s opening session of the UPGro Study Tour, Kampala, from @amcowafrica
We are really excited that today, in Kampala, is the kick-off a week of activities to promote, show and discuss the opportunities and challenges of using groundwater for rural and urban water supply, and for environmental and economic sustainability. This is part of the African Minister’s Council on Water (AMCOW) new Pan-African Groundwater Program, which was launched in Nairobi in October last year, in partnership with IWMI, GRAN (Groundwater for Resilience in Africa Network), UPGro (Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor), GRIPP, BGR and support from the Africa Groundwater Network and the Sustainable Groundwater Development Theme of RWSN.

The aim of these coordinated activities is to build a strong and lasting connection between researchers, policy-makers and implementers, not just in Uganda, but across Africa. If you are any of those, then we hope to create opportunities for you to get involved over the coming months and years.

For live updates follow the #AfWAGroundwater2020 on Twitter and follow

What’s happening and where:

Thursday 20 Feb: UPGro Study Tour – Day 1 (closed event)

  • Learning with UPGro – delegates meet and brief
  • Group A: Learning from the adaptation of Transition Management approach in Bwaise Community, Kampala
  • Group B Learning from the adaptation of Transition Management approach in Bwaise community, Makerere Community, Kampala

Friday 21 Feb: UPGro Study Tour – Day 2 (closed event)

  • Group C: Rural Water Supply Functionality: beyond the numbers, Luwero District
  • Group D: Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater through Resource Assessment, Management and Regulation, Ministry of Water and Environment Headquarters, Luzira, Kampala
  • Closing event – sharing of experiences, debriefing and take-away messages

Saturday 22 Feb: AMCOW APAGroP Working Group Meeting (closed event)

AIM:  Building on the progress made at the launch of APAGroP in Nairobi in October 2019, the aim of this one-day meeting is for APAGroP to be taken forward and the APAGroP Working Groups to be operationalised, with a programme of activities for the next 12 months.

OBJECTIVES

  1. Consolidate and build on the momentum set in Nairobi
  2. Strengthen groundwater networks
  3. Key short-term priorities and deliverables for APAGroP set out and agreed
  4. “Action Groups” under each Working Group established
  5. Draft Action Plans for each Action Group developed, with a designated Champion to lead the group, and ways of collaborating over the next 12 months set out
  6. Milestones for 8th Africa Water Week and the 9th World Water Forum 2021 and other key events identified and agreed

Sunday 23rd Feb: AMCOW Groundwater Policy Dialogue (closed meeting)

AIM:  The African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) launched its Pan-African Groundwater Program (APAGroP) with a major meeting in Nairobi October 2019. The programme, with its crucial target being that groundwater is better represented in the continent’s major strategic programs around water, intends to improve the policy and practice of groundwater in Africa for better lives and livelihoods. The initiative is intended to contribute to the achievement of the continent’s commitment to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 6 – Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

The purpose of the Groundwater Policy Dialogue is to:

  1. Inform AMCOW TAC Members of background and forward-looking dimensions of the APAGroP, including a roadmap through AWW8 in Windhoek, November 2020, to the WWF9 in Dakar, March 2021;
  2. Share experiences and messages between AMCOW TAC and groundwater networks;
  3. Bridge the gap between science, policy and practice; and
  4. Build a cadre of groundwater ambassadors at the political representation level among AMCOW Member States.

Monday – Thursday: African Water Association (AfWA) Congress, Kampala (open to delegates)

  • High-level Ministerial Dialogue
  • Keynote: Dr Kerstin Danert
  • Groundwater exhibition stand, convened by UPGro (I will be there, to answer questions)
  • Groundwater sessions through the week:
Topic/Title Convenors Chair
1.     Groundwater Governance: The AMCOW Pan-African Groundwater Program as a Catalyst for Intra- and Cross-country Groundwater ‘Resource-to-Tap’ Management AMCOW/GRAN/BGS/IWMI

(Dr Karen Villholth)

Dr Kerstin Danert

Programme Coordination Group Chair – UPGro

Skat Foundation, Switzerland

2.     Where does your water come from? 5 ways to increase water security and inclusive access in cities, towns and villages UPGro

(Prof. Richard Taylor)

 

Dr. Simeon Dulo

University of Nairobi, Kenya

 

3.     Insights in the adaptation of transition management in order to increase sustainable urban groundwater management UPGro
(Prof. Jan Willem Foppen – T-GroUP/ IHE Delft)
Dr Robinah Kulabako

Makerere University, Uganda

4.     Off Grid: the opportunities and challenges of safe and sustainable water points UPGro

(Prof. Alan MacDonald)

Co chairs

Alan MacDonald, British Geological Survey, UK  & Chikondi Shaba, Chancellor’s College Malawi

5.     Manage, recharge, protect – Groundwater for resilient urban water supply BGR/IWA GM SG

(Michael Eicholz)

Ramon Brentführer

Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Germany

6.     Drilling dialogues: a conversation about professionalism, groundwater mapping and off-grid cities Cardiff University, Skat Foundation, Uganda Drilling Contractors Association, Ministry of Water and Environment

(Adrian Healy)

Dr Adrian Healy

UKRI Future Leader Fellow

Cardiff University, UK

7.     Unlocking Groundwater: from data to knowledge. What’s needed to manage groundwater for society, economy and environment AMCOW/GRAN/BGS/IWMI

(Kirsty Upton)

 

Paul Orengoh,

Director of Programmes

African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW), Nigeria

 

 

 

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

Job: AMCOW Groundwater Desk Officer

Closing Date: 4 March, 2019

African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW)

AMCOW is an intergovernmental, Pan-African, non-budgetary institution working under the Specialized Technical Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment of the African Union (AU), and provides political oversight on water resources and sanitation in Africa. AMCOW’s mission is to promote cooperation, security, social and economic development, and poverty alleviation among member states through the effective management of the continent’s water resources and the provision of water supply and sanitation services, and is mandated to provide political leadership in the implementation of the African Water Vision 2025 and water components of the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

The Groundwater Desk Officer will be responsible for setting up and operationalizing the groundwater function at AMCOW Secretariat. He/she will coordinate all groundwater activities with the view to shaping knowledge and action on groundwater development and management on the continent. Specifically, the position holder will:

Systematically map and maintain an updated database of stakeholders engaged in groundwater activities on the continent.  This includes having a clear understanding of the types and sizes of such institutions/organizations, and their thematic and  geographical foci.

Work with such identified institutions/organizations with the view to establishing coordinating and collaboration  mechanisms and platforms for groundwater activities in Africa.

Lead in Collating, Analyzing and Managing Knowledge on Groundwater with the intention of shaping opinion and  influencing action on sustainable groundwater development and management in Africa, at appropriate levels.

Click here more for details…

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.

UPGro at Africa Water Week

Next week is Africa Water Week (http://africawaterweek.com/6/) , the event that happens every two years that brings Africa governments together to discuss and share experiences on all aspects of water management and WASH, and provides an interface with the latest innovation and research.

If you are attending then please do join RWSN and UPGro partners, UNICEF, IRC, Skat, USAID/WALIS, MWE, Africa GW Network in the following sessions:

Strengthening national capacities for WASH sector learning

Continue reading UPGro at Africa Water Week