:: 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.

Call for papers – Special Issue, African Rainfall Variability: Science and Society


Prof Aondover Tarhule and I will serve as Guest Editors on a special issue of the open access journal Atmosphere (http://www.mdpi.com/journal/atmosphere) on the above timely and exciting topic.

Please find additional information on the call for papers here http://www.mdpi.com/journal/atmosphere/special_issues/precipitation_Africa_Society

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2018

We invite you to consider submitting your current, previously unpublished work to this special edition.

Special Issue Information

The Sahel-Soudano zone that spans North Africa, from Senegal to Ethiopia, has experienced pronounced climatic variability (and conflicts) for millennia. This home to 250 million people—one quarter of Africa’s population—is a fragile transition zone in environmental and human terms. From south-to-north, rainfall decreases from around 30 inches per year on average to essentially nothing. Back-to-back contrasting rain years (deficits in 2011, floods in 2012) left over 18 million people in the West African Sahel threatened by food shortages between 2012 and 2013, highlighting yet again the strong the dependence between livelihoods on rainfall in the region. Ironically (tragically, even), the stakeholders within the Sahel have less access to, and therefore use less, instrumental rainfall information for planning and management than almost anywhere else in the world. Furthermore, short-term weather and seasonal climate forecasting have limited skill for West Africa. Whilst many of the National Hydrological and Meteorological agencies are making impressive efforts to produce tailored climate forecasts for their stakeholders, most appear to be country specific.

Recognizing these constraints, this Special Issue presents the latest understanding of African rainfall variability and on-going efforts to translate this into useable information through knowledge co-production and dissemination, to assure content relevance and accuracy for intended purposes. Stakeholders must establish practical innovations to anticipate impending crises and work collaboratively across the region to share information and strengthen supporting infrastructure. Within this framework, timely access to user-relevant climate information, access to relevant and reliable forecasts, and the ability of stakeholders to act on that information through effective strategic partnerships will prove the difference between coping proactively with emerging climate challenges and perpetuating the cycle of climate triggers and crisis.

Prof. Rosalind Cornforth

Prof. Aondover Tarhule

Guest Editors