Shallow groundwater wells, are the main source of drinking water in many rural and peri-urban communities.
The quantity and variety of shallow wells located in such communities make them more readily accessible than private or government operated deep boreholes, but shallow wells are more susceptible to faecal contamination, which is often due to leaching pit latrines.
For this reason, online monitoring of water quality in shallow wells, in terms of faecal pollution, could dramatically improve understanding of acute health risks in unplanned peri-urban settlements.
More broadly, inexpensive online faecal pollution risk monitoring is also highly relevant in the context of managed aquifer recharge via the infiltration of either stormwater or treated wastewater into the subsurface for aquifer storage and recovery.
To tackle this challenge, IN-GROUND – an UPGro Catalyst Project – trialled four different types of Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) water quality biosensor in the lab (Newcastle University, UK) and in the field (Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania).
While further work is needed, the results provided proof-of-concept that these biosensors can provide continuous groundwater quality monitoring at low cost and without need for additional chemicals or external power input.
The UPGro programme, supported by AfriWatSan & ESPRC, conducted a pan-African capacity-strengthening and knowledge co-production workshop at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania from the 10th to 12th of February, 2017.
40 participants from 12 countries in Africa took part and analysed multi-decadal, groundwater-level data (“chronicles”) from 9 countries including Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger, Sénégal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Professor Japhet Kashaigili presented recent research from the GroFutures Site Observatory in Tanzania (Makutapora) at the 4th Annual Conference (AWAC 2016) of the Association of Tanzanian Water Suppliers (ATAWAS) held on 8th and 9thNovember 2016 in Dodoma, Tanzania. Under the theme of “Knowledge, Capacity and Learning in the Water and Sanitation Sector,” the development of water supplies and sanitation as well as the current challenges faced by organisations across Tanzania were discussed by professionals working in water sector including policy makers and those involved water governance.
Professor Japhet Kashaigili, based at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), presented a paper entitled, Assessing the sustainability of groundwater-fed water supplies to intensive pumping and climate variability: evidence from detailed monitoring of the Makutapora Wellfield, drawing on collaborative research conducted by SUA, University College London, University of Sussex (UK), and the WamiRuvu Basin Water Board within the Ministry of Water and Irrigation. Key stakeholders including the Dodoma Regional Administrative Secretary and Technical Manager of the Dodoma Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Authority (DUWASA) expressed great interest in the GroFutures Team’s evaluation of the sustainability of intensive groundwater abstraction from the Makutapora Wellfield, which is currently the sole perennial supply of freshwater to the rapidly growing capital city, Dodoma. Japhet’s presentation highlighted the bias in wellfield replenishment (recharge) to heavy rainfall and the observed dependence of recharge on the duration of ephemeral river discharge to the wellfield. He also reported on the establishment of telemetry-based, high-frequency (hourly) monitoring of groundwater levels in boreholes enabling the WamiRuvu Basin Water Board and GroFutures team to download real-time monitoring of groundwater levels for wellfield management and research.
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
IGRAC developed a Serious Game on ‘Improving Groundwater Management Through Cooperation and Collective Action’, which has been tested and applied to the case studies of the GroFutures project.
Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa (GroFutures) will 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 4-year involves comparative studies in Ethiopia (Upper Awash), Niger and Nigeria (Iullemmeden) and in Tanzania (Great Ruaha) and is funded by the UK government under its UPGro (Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor) programme.
GroFutures field trip
A stakeholder workshop to kick off this study in Tanzania was held on March 30th and 31st 2016 in Iringa, followed by a 4-days field trip. The Groundwater Game session was attended by circa 25 participants. Playing the Groundwater Game helped all participants better understand the challenges and consequences of groundwater use and potential challenges to be faced in the future. The integration of stakeholders from a range of perspectives into different teams playing the game also promoted direct sharing of thoughts and ideas in a relaxed manner. During the workshop, the project team welcomed the Director of Water Resources, Regional Commissioner for Iringa, Water Officers of the Rufiji and WamiRuvu Basins together with a range of other key stakeholders including District Water and Irrigation Engineers, local NGOs and farmers.
Under the heading “Using groundwater to reduce poverty” the GroFutures Team in Tanzania led by Japhet Kashaigili, Andrew Tarimo and Devotha Mosha hosted the GroFutures Inception Workshop in Iringa on March 31st 2016. It was opened by the District Commissioner for Iringa, Hon. Richard Kasesela, and was attended by national, basin-level and local stakeholders (listed below) who discussed current groundwater use and management in the Great Ruaha Sub-Catchment of the Rufiji Basin and as well as both proposed and potential groundwater development pathways that might best reduce poverty. The event was featured on national television news in Tanzania (see clip here) and leading newspapers.
Groundwater Inception Workshop in Tanzania (31st March 2016):
GroFutures Great Ruaha Inception Workshop featured on national television news (in Swahili)
New study to examine the potential of groundwater to expand irrigation and increase access to safe water in Tanzania
Groundwater flowing beneath the land surface of Tanzania has the potential to provide year-round sources of freshwater to irrigate crops when rains fail and to supply safe drinking water at low cost. There remain, however, key questions regarding the development of this vital resource including how much groundwater can be used sustainably, what groundwater development pathways will best reduce poverty, and how use of groundwater will affect other water sources such as rivers, wetlands and lakes.
Yes! It is very interesting for these kids, obviously amazed by the strange equipment put into the water. As soon as I started to set up the probes and to do the water quality measurements, I was suddenly surrounded by children, getting closer and closer trying to find out what is this about. It was in Osunyai Street, where I took a sample from a borehole close to Sombetini Primary School. The children are students of this school and they were just walking around when I arrived to continue with my data collection. The T-GroUP Project gave me the opportunity to mix my technical background in chemistry and water quality with social science, an exciting challenge with an interesting experience working in the field.
Floods and droughts, feasts and famines: the challenge of living with an African climate has always been its variability, from the lush rainforests of the Congo to the extreme dry of the Sahara and Namib deserts. In north western Europe, drizzle and rain is generally spread quite evenly across the year, as anyone who has gone camping in British summer will tell you. But when annual rainfall happens within just a few months or weeks of the year then it is a massive challenge for farmers, towns and industry to access enough water through long dry seasons and to protect themselves and their land from flooding and mudslides when the rains come.
New research suggests that Africa’s aquifers could be the key to managing water better. Professor Richard Taylor at UCL explains: “What we found is that groundwater in tropical regions – and Sub-Saharan Africa in particular – is primarily replenished from intense rainfall events – heavy downpours. This means that aquifers are an essential way of storing the heavy rain from the rainy season for use during the dry season, and for keeping rivers flowing.”