New state-of-the-art research collection on groundwater sustainability across Sub-Saharan Africa

An important new collection of papers has just been published online in the Hydrogeology Journal:

Substantial increases in groundwater withdrawals are expected across Sub-Saharan Africa to help nations increase access to safe water and to amplify agricultural production in pursuit of UN SDG 2 and SDG 6.  Long-term groundwater-level records or chronicles play an important role in developing an improved understanding of the hydrogeological and climatic conditions that control access and sustain well yields, informing where, when and how groundwater withdrawals can sustainably contribute to building resilience and alleviating poverty.

There are four papers in the collection (and an overview essay) that provide a sample of the new research outputs emanating from The Chronicles Consortium and UPGro GroFutures:

  • Evidence from chronicles in seasonally humid Benin and Uganda show annual cycles of replenishment from direct, diffuse recharge generated preferentially by heavy rainfalls. Kotchoni et al. show how chronicles from different geological environments in Benin can be modelled very effectively on a daily timestep with an improved watertable fluctuation model.
  • In semi-arid southwestern Niger, chronicles show that recharge to weathered crystalline rock aquifer systems occurs directly from rainfall but is restricted by a thick clayey aquitard developed from schist. However, greater recharge is shown to occur indirectly via riverbeds of ephemeral streams which provide preferential pathways through the saprolite.
  • Evidence from the Makutapora Wellfield of semi-arid central Tanzania that groundwater, abstracted at rates exceeding 30,000 m3/day, is sustained by episodic recharge associated with El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Further, abstracted groundwater is partially modern, derived from rainfall within the last 10–60 years.
  • Studies from Benin and Niger highlight the low storage of weathered crystalline rock aquifers and the importance of modern recharge in sustaining groundwater use. The low storage and low but highly variable hydraulic conductivity of weathered and fractured crystalline rock aquifers found over more than 40% of Sub-Saharan Africa may, however, have a potential advantage. Such aquifer systems restrict opportunities for intensive and competitive abstraction and are thus potentially self-regulating. Low-intensity groundwater abstraction distributed across the landscape also complements existing land-tenure systems in many areas of Sub-Saharan Africa dominated by smallholder agriculturalists.
  • The chronicles provide invaluable datasets to help direct assessments of past impacts of climate variability—e.g. ENSO, Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO)— and abstraction on groundwater storage. Such records, when continuously updated, can also provide key input to water resources management by tracking emerging risks to water security from groundwater storage decline or groundwater flooding (e.g. Murray et al. 2018).
  • Regional-scale (>50,000 km2) networks of long-term piezometric records can also be used to test the reliability of largescale, satellite observations from the Gravity Anomaly and Climate Experiment (GRACE). Indeed, the emergence of GRACE measurements of changes in total terrestrial water storage adds a potential tool, albeit at a much larger scale (>200,000 km2), to estimate changes in groundwater storage where records do not exist. However, there are substantial uncertainties from such estimates.

For full details read:

Please note that all five papers are open until 30 April, after which only 3 of the papers will be Open Access.

Text adapted from Topical Collection: Determining groundwater sustainability from long-term piezometry in Sub-Saharan Africa

New field experiments assessing groundwater storage in the Iullemmeden Basin (Niger/Nigeria)

re-posted from GroFutures

New field experiments assessing groundwater storage in the Iullemmeden Basin have recently been completed under GroFutures by a team of early career researchers. From December 2018 to January 2019, Fabrice Lawson from the Université d’Abomey Calavi and IRD in Benin (UAC/IRD), and Jean-Baptist Gnonhoue (IRD, Benin) worked with colleagues, Rabilou Mahaman and Boukari Issoufou from the Université Abdou Moumouni of Niamey (UAMN) in Niger to conduct field experiments applying Magnetic Resonance Sounding (MRS) and Time Domain Electromagnetics (TDEM), to generate in-situ measurements of groundwater storage. Such measurements of groundwater storage are rare despite their fundamental importance to understanding quantitatively the availability and sustainability of groundwater resources.

In total, the team conducted experiments at 26 sites, including 13 in the Dallol-Maouri region in central Niger and 13 in the Goulbi-Maradi region in southeastern Niger, just north of the border with Nigeria. Fabrice and Jean-Baptist led this field research sharing their expertise with their counterparts in Niger. Fabrice and Jean-Baptist (an early career scientist and engineer, respectively) developed their expertise to apply these sophisticated instruments under the tutelage of Jean-Michel Vouillamoz of IRD based at the University of Grenoble, France. The team was also supported by the lead GroFuturesresearchers in the Iullemmeden Basin Observatory, Professor Yahaya Nazoumou at UAMN and Dr. Guillaume Favreau of IRD, Niamey.

Results from field experiments and the subsequent processing and analyses of data will inform not only evaluations of available groundwater resources in these regions of the Iullemmeden Basin but also stress-testing of groundwater development pathways, developed by stakeholders, through numerical modelling. Well done to Fabrice, Jean-Baptist, Rabilou and Boukari!

Combined Benin-Niger GroFutures field team with supporters working in Goulbi-Maradi (left); Early Career scientists under GroFutures, Fabrice Lawson (UAC/IRD, Benin), Jean-Baptist Gnonhoue (IRD, Benin), Rabilou Mahaman (UAMN, Niger), and Boukari Issoufou (UAMN, Niger) running MRS experiments in Goulbi-Maradi (right).

GroFutures team bring rain to Niger in the dry season! (maybe…)

re-posted from GroFutures news


Speed Read:

  • Information collected through physical and social science methods was shared and discussed at the GroFutures Annual Workshop in Niger, with partners in and outside the study.
  • Open-source modelling software under FREEWAT platform was successfully piloted for ‘stress testing’ the sustainability of Groundwater Development Pathways accounting for climate and land-use change.
  • New water monitoring has been established to help manage the Iullemmeden Basin, which is shared by Niger and Nigeria

Continue reading GroFutures team bring rain to Niger in the dry season! (maybe…)

Professor Yahaya Nazoumou: Groundwater central to Niger’s climate change resilience

re-posted from GroFutures

[INTERVIEWER] Dr. Mohammad Shamsudduha or “Shams”, GroFutures Project Manager: thank you Professor Nazoumou for taking the time to discuss your involvement in GroFutures and how your work in the Iullemmeden Basin is making an impact on the government policies and practices of the water resources development and management in Niger.

[INTERVIEWEE] Professor Nazoumou or “Yahaya”:  I am a Professor of Hydrogeology at the Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey. I coordinate the IB team with IRD (France) and colleagues from Nigeria to achieve the project goals. I am also an advisor on climate change at the Ministry of Planning and Local Development and currently advise the Government of Niger on matters related to climate change so that development plans and activities can improve the resilience of communities to the impacts of climate change in Niger, in rural areas in particular.

Shams: can you please expand on your role and activities of the department?

Yahaya: Under the Climate Investment Fund, the Niger Government in coordination with the African Development Bank, the World Bank and key Nigerien stakeholders, has initiated a Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) called the Strategic Program for Climate Resilience. Niger will receive some US$110 million in grants and concessional loans from PPCR to strengthen capacity in the sectors of agriculture and livestock in Niger. These efforts also include activities strengthening the development of science informing strategies that improve resilience. These activities are aligned to GroFutures vision of establishing a Network of African Groundwater Observatories that includes the Iullemmeden Basin of Niger. Improving our understanding of climate change impacts on water resources is also a priority of the group. To make accessible global climate projections data from large global-scale climate models and to develop regional scale models will facilitate the development of climate–resilient, land and water management programmes.

Shams: I am aware that you represented the Government of Niger at meetings of the IPCC (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change) in Paris (2015) and Marrakech (2016). Can you share your experiences at these high-profile meetings?

Yahaya: Yes, I am member of a Niger Government’s team on climate change. I first represented the Government of Niger in 2014 at the Lima Climate Change Conference (COP20), and then attended the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) and Marrakech (COP22). My role in these high-profile meetings was to demonstrate how Niger seeks to achieve resilience to climate change and implement adaptation plans, and how the government programmes are trying to reach its goals in reducing climate change impacts. In 2016, as the President of the Scientific Committee, I organised a meeting in Marrakech as a side event to the Climate Change Conference to showcase Niger government’s programmes and activities in terms of climate adaptation and resilience in rural areas. In that event, the President of Niger as well as key stakeholders including international donor agencies such as World Bank and African Development Bank were present. Time for that side event was limited to an hour but within that short period key participants including myself discussed Niger Government’s experiences in the adaptation strategies for climate change. It was a good opportunity for me to mention GroFutures and how groundwater-fed irrigation can be developed in Niger where surface water is limited and highlight the greater resilience of groundwater resources to climate change.

Shams: Have there been any follow-up activities since the meeting in Marrakech?

Yahaya: Following the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech (COP22), the President of Niger asked the Ministry of Environment to develop a proposal for the Green Climate Fund. Subsequently, the World Bank has asked the Niger Government to develop a much bigger proposal integrating development, research and policy. So currently, I am working with the ministry to develop the proposal and I am taking the opportunity to link this to GroFutures.

Grofutures launch in transboundary Iullemmeden basin

re-blogged from GroFutures

GroFutures was launched in the transboundary Iullemmeden Basin at a workshop held at Abdou Moumouni University (UAM) of Niamey in Niger on 23rd August 2016. The workshop was opened by the Vice Chancellor, Hon. Professor Amadou Boureima, and welcomed by the Director General of Water Resources in the Ministry of Hydraulics and Sanitation of Niger, Mr. Abdou Moumouni Moussa; Engineer Koné Soungalo representing the Niger Basin Authority; Dr. Oumarou Malam Issa, Country Representative of IRD in Niger; and the Deans of Faculties of Sciences and Agronomy (UAM).

Continue reading Grofutures launch in transboundary Iullemmeden basin

Groundwater Serious Game played during GroFutures workshop in Niamey, Niger

re-blogged from IGRAC

On August 22nd and 23rd, a stakeholder workshop to kick off the GroFutures comparative study in the Iullemmeden basin was held at Université Abdou Moumouni in Niamey, Niger. During this workshop, IGRAC and the GroFutures Team facilitated a session of the Groundwater Serious Game that was attended by 28 participants. Among the participants of the game session, there were researchers from the university (professors and students), local authorities, hydraulic engineers from local organisations as well as farmers using groundwater to irrigate their crops. The game session, which featured simultaneous translation into French and Haoussa, helped the project team and the stakeholders to better understand the groundwater dynamics and the challenges to be faced in the coming years. 

After the session the team had the opportunity to discuss the experience during the game session and to highlight the importance of opening up the discussion of sustainable and joint management of the groundwater resources as a shared resource (domestic and irrigation uses, surface water versus groundwater). The Groundwater Serious Game session also proportioned a good integration of the stakeholders of the Iullemmeden basin in a lucid and dynamic way.

The Serious Game on Improving Groundwater Management Through Cooperation and Collective Action, developed by IGRAC, is being applied to case studies of GroFutures (Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa), a 4-year research project, funded by the UK government under its UPGro(Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor) programme,  seeking to develop the scientific evidence base, tools and participatory processes by which groundwater resources can be used sustainably for poverty alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This project involves comparative studies in Ethiopia (Upper Awash Basin), Niger and Nigeria (Iullemmeden transboundary Basin) and in Tanzania (Great Ruaha Basin).

GroFutures Serious Groundwater Game in Niger