GroFutures: Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa

Lead Research Organisation: Institute of Development Studies
Department Name: Research Department

Abstract

The Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa (GroFutures) project will assemble an inter-disciplinary team of highly experienced physical and social scientists from Africa and Europe to generate new scientific evidence and methods to enable groundwater to be used sustainably and equitably tom improve the lives of poor people in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by way of improved access to safe water for drinking and domestic purposes as well as water for agricultural production. As SSA is a region of small-scale farmers, sustainable year-round access to water for agriculture is a core component of poverty alleviation strategies in this region. GroFutures also recognises the importance of protecting the quantity and quality of groundwater discharges that sustain rivers, lakes and wetlands and the benefits (e.g. fish, hydropower) derived from these.

Under a one-year catalyst grant, the GroFutures Team will work with government water ministries in Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania to conduct a series of pilot studies characterising and quantifying seasonal changes in groundwater demand under a range of potential development options including increased use of groundwater for irrigation as well as urban and rural water supplies in selected basins. Indicative changes in groundwater supply by way of rain-fed groundwater replenishment (recharge) will also be evaluated under this pilot research by examining relationships between climate and groundwater recharge in semi-arid (central Tanzania) and seasonally humid (northern Uganda) environments where long-term observational records exist. The evaluation will focus on observed recharge responses to changes in the intensity of rainfall that is projected to increase in a warmer world, under these contrasting climate regimes.

A significant innovation of the research conducted under this catalyst grant is the development and trial of a new metric of water availability that, for the first time, explicitly considers groundwater resources. Water availability will be redefined in terms of water storage requirements, be it natural (e.g. groundwater) or constructed (e.g. surface reservoirs), that are required to address imbalances between water supply and demand. As such, the metric will directly inform water management including sustainable allocations of groundwater. Because access to groundwater often disfavours poor water users, GroFutures will investigate pathways to enhance the governance and management of groundwater that recognise and support access of the poor to groundwater.

The interdisciplinary GroFutures Team is uniquely qualified to undertake the proposed research. It has conducted pioneering research evaluating factors that influence groundwater demand and supply and, as such, possesses invaluable long-term and detailed datasets as well as an acute understanding of the national development plans required to develop robust projections and scenarios of the future with which to determine the sustainability of groundwater resources in different settings. Having enjoyed long-term collaborations with government ministries who are project partners, the team is also able to review critical questions of groundwater governance and management.

Another key attribute of the GroFutures proposal is the holding of a pan-African workshop which will enable a rare opportunity for scientists in Anglophone and Francophone Africa to share their experiences and expertise. Scientists and government stakeholders in the GroFutures project will run the workshop jointly with a Francophone network of researchers, PICASS'EAU, from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Niger, and Nigeria as well as potentially other UPGro Consortia and several invited international scientists who will examine the wider applicability of GroFutures pilot-study results to SSA and inform research to be proposed under a subsequent large, inter-disciplinary consortium proposal to the UPGro programme.

Planned Impact

GroFutures will benefit: (1) poor people (including women) in SSA through the increased and disseminated knowledge and evidence on positive outcomes from groundwater development for health and livelihoods enabling poverty alleviation; (2) water planners and policy makers in SSA through the development of evidence and methodologies to quantify groundwater demand and supply through recharge thereby enabling equitable and sustainable use of groundwater resources; and (3) national and regional research communities in SSA through an improved networking and information exchanges as well as ultimately by way of improved knowledge, evidence and tools to develop and manage groundwater resources equitably and sustainably.

The primary pathway by which the GroFutures catalyst project will generate impacts for poor people in sub-Saharan Africa is through the development of evidence and tools which water managers in the focal countries can (a) target groundwater development where it can most effectively reduce poverty, and (b) ensure equitable and sustainable development of groundwater resources.

GroFutures will contribute to unlocking the poverty-reducing potential of groundwater in SSA by:
1) generating new evidence on groundwater availability and demand, including insights into how these are likely to change over the next two to three decades giving planners at basin, national and regional levels the information they need to plan for an equitable and sustainable allocation of groundwater, for multiple users and uses;
2) Identifying locations and circumstances in which groundwater development (for domestic supply or irrigation) is a feasible strategy to reduce poverty;
3) Identifying areas where groundwater is at risk of future depletion due to likely demand/supply imbalances enabling management responses to be developed on a preventive rather than curative basis;
4) Providing specific information on the seasonal variations of water availability and demand which can carry high costs for economies and for the livelihoods of poor people and make planning and management difficult;
5) Piloting a new tool (water availability metric incorporating groundwater storage) which planners can use to assess groundwater futures in their basin;
6) Strengthening the capacity of water planners through co-production of knowledge and collaborative, demand-based research and piloting;
7) Identifying governance options for pro-poor, sustainable groundwater management, in collaboration with water managers and other key stakeholders; and
8) Disseminating evidence and knowledge on the positive outcomes of groundwater development for health and livelihoods enabling poverty alleviation.

The GroFutures team will engage staff of national, regional and local water bureaux in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Tanzania as project partners from the start in the research planning, data analysis and tool/metric development and piloting. They will also embed new scientific knowledge, models and methods for managing groundwater for poverty alleviation within water ministries to inform decision-making and initiate discussions about equity in groundwater development among relevant stakeholders. Findings and methods will also be actively shared with a West African initiative on groundwater in West Africa, PICASS'EAU, for impact outside the study countries.

Production and dissemination of high quality, open-source publications - in the form of academic outputs in high impact journals, as well as targeted policy briefs and other bespoke communications materials suited to different audiences - will be a central aim of the project. These will be co-authored by African and UK-based collaborators and published in English, as well as Amharic and Swahili, where appropriate. The materials will be posted on a dedicated Groundwater Futures webpage of the ESRC-STEPS Centre (www.steps-centre.org), with links to the websites of other key partner organisations.
 
Description Among other things, this project assessed current and projected groundwater demand by season and under specific policy scenarios (e.g. expansion in irrigated agriculture, increased access to safe water) in several study river basins in Ethiopia (Shebelle Basin), Ghana (Atankwidi and Anayere Basins), Tanzania (WamiRuvu Basin) and Uganda (Aroca Basin) and analysed total and currently renewable groundwater storage in basin study areas.

Importantly, we engaged with basin authorities and national groundwater agencies to discuss changing supply and demand scenarios and their policy implications.
Exploitation Route We have begun to assemble an international consortium of scientists with an unmatched track record of groundwater research and stakeholder engagement in Africa.

We have also been able to leverages substantial additional investment (£461k) through linkages with partners in France to contribute to a new UPGro Consortium grant on 'Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa'

We have begun to establish a 'Network of African Groundwater Observatories' (NAGO), even before we have formally received funding from UPGro or other sources.

We have created a network has is collating a set of over 25 time-series of multi-decadal, groundwater-level observations across Africa. The analysis of these data will enable the most rigorous assessment of the relationships among climate, land-use and groundwater recharge ever conducted in the region.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment
URL https://upgro.org/catalyst-projects/grofutures1/
 
Description This evidence and the interactions with key policy actors informed the design and development of a larger Consortium grant which was submitted to UPGro in 2014. This has now been approved and a new, four-year, multi-partner project entitled 'Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa', which will begin in 2014.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services
 
Description Appointment to Scientific Council of IRD (France)
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Field Guide on Participatory Research for Identifying and Analysing Groundwater Development Pathways
Geographic Reach Africa 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description GroFutures co-PI advises Niger Government's Strategic Program on Climate Resilience
Geographic Reach Africa 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
Impact GroFutures co-PI and co-lead in the Iullemmeden Basin in Niger, Professor Yahaya Nazoumou is a key adviser for the Niger Strategic Program on Climate Resilience. Under GroFutures, Professor Nazoumou is working towards achieving groundwater-based resilience to climate change
URL https://www.afdb.org/en/news-and-events/article/niger-strengthening-climate-change-resilience-16563/
 
Description Africa Capacity Building Initiative
Amount £1,186,000 (GBP)
Funding ID AQ140023 
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 01/2015 
End 12/2019
 
Description Banking the Rain: enhancing the resilience of water supplies in dryland Africa
Amount £92,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 172313 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 08/2016 
End 03/2017
 
Description The Royal Society Leverhulme Trust Senior Fellowships
Amount £150,000 (GBP)
Funding ID LT170004 
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 09/2017 
End 08/2018
 
Title The Chronicles Consortium 
Description The Chronicles Consortium has collated and analysed multi-decadal records of groundwater levels from 9 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa in order to assess the impacts of groundwater use, climate variability and change, and land-use change on groundwater storage across Africa. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The development of this research database is allowing, for the first time, a continent-wide analysis of the impacts of groundwater use, climate variability and change, and land-use change on groundwater storage across Africa. 
URL http://www.un-igrac.org/special-project/chronicles-consortium
 
Description GRECHLIM: Groundwater Recharge in the Limpopo Basin 
Organisation US Geological Survey
Country United States of America 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution GroFutures research team members, Karen Villholth and Tamiru Abiye, have developed this partnership funded by USAID and involving the US Geological Survey allied to GroFutures research in the Limpopo Basin of South Africa.
Collaborator Contribution The GRECHLIM Project collaborate with the following main partners: Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), South Africa, Department of Water Affairs (DWA), Botswana, Limpopo Watercourse Commission (LIMCOM), Water Research Commission (WRC), South Africa, Southern African Development Community (SADC), and University of Texas at Austin, USA.
Impact The project has so far supported field work for three MSc students from the University of Witwatersrand. Two of these students have submitted their theses for examination at the end of February 2017, while the third student has started field work in March 2017. We are expecting more MSc students to join the project team during the course of the year. Furthermore, the project also provided training for PhD and MSc student from both South Africa and Botswana on groundwater recharge estimation techniques on 11-12 October 2016 at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Groundwater model for Dendron/ Hout catchment has been developed to understand the groundwater use and recharge dynamics. Furthermore, independent groundwater recharge estimation using geochemical and stable isotope techniques is in progress. Therefore, we believe that these information could contribute for the development of better groundwater management plan in the basin.
Start Year 2015
 
Description GroFutures: Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa 
Organisation Addis Ababa University
Country Ethiopia, Federal Democratic Republic of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution NERC/ESRC/DFID Grants (Ref. NE/L002043/1; NE/M008932/1), GroFutures: Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa, has been awarded as a result of a consortium developed under the project.
Collaborator Contribution Partners contributed to the development of the successful NERC/ESRC/DFID Catalyst and Programme Grant Proposals.
Impact NERC/ESRC/DFID Grants (Ref. NE/L002043/1; NE/M008932/1), GroFutures: Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa, has been awarded as a result of a consortium developed under the project.
Start Year 2013
 
Description GroFutures: Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa 
Organisation Sokoine University of Agriculture
Country Tanzania, United Republic of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution NERC/ESRC/DFID Grants (Ref. NE/L002043/1; NE/M008932/1), GroFutures: Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa, has been awarded as a result of a consortium developed under the project.
Collaborator Contribution Partners contributed to the development of the successful NERC/ESRC/DFID Catalyst and Programme Grant Proposals.
Impact NERC/ESRC/DFID Grants (Ref. NE/L002043/1; NE/M008932/1), GroFutures: Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa, has been awarded as a result of a consortium developed under the project.
Start Year 2013
 
Description The Chronicles Consortium 
Organisation Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD)
Country France, French Republic 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The Chronicles Consortium is an international consortium of scientists from (currently) 12 countries across Africa and beyond collating and analysing multi-decadal records of groundwater levels, representing long-term aquifer dynamics, in order to assess the impacts of groundwater use, climate variability and change, and land-use change on groundwater storage across Africa. It is a joint initiative of the African Groundwater Network (AGW-Net), IAH Commission on Groundwater and Climate Change, and UNESCO-IHP GRAPHIC programme that is supported by the UPGro (Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor) programme of the UK government (DFID, NERC, ESRC) and the French government (IRD).
Collaborator Contribution The consortium was established at the 41st Congress of the IAH (International Association of Hydrogeologists) in Marrakech, Morocco on 14 September 2014 and is led by Tamiru Abiye (Wits University, South Africa), Guillaume Favreau (IRD, France), and Richard Taylor (University College London, UK).
Impact Collation and analysis of multi-decadal groundwater-level records from 12 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa; special sessions at the 41st, 42nd and 43rd Congresses of the IAH; a training and knowledge co-production workshop (http://grofutures.org/article/pan-african-groundwater-level-analysis-and-training-workshop/) leading to high-profile reseacrh papers and special section of a international peer-reviewed journal, HydrogeolgyJournal (https://www.un-igrac.org/news/call-papers-special-issue-hydrogeology-journal).
Start Year 2014
 
Description UPGro Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and British Geological Survey (BGS) Collaboration 
Organisation British Geological Survey
Department Geomagnetism Group
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution New partnership between the British Geological Survey (BGS) and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), which is a co-PI on Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa (GroFutures) has formed to provide key social science elements to the further development of the African Groundwater Atlas (https://upgro.org/africa-groundwater-atlas/), with support from NERC-ESRC-DFID through the 'Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor' (UPGro) programme. GroFutures will provide key social science information to this newly established collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution British Geological Survey (BGS) has already developed the African Groundwater Atlas that is publicly available (https://www.bgs.ac.uk/africagroundwateratlas/) and provides a summary of geological and hydrogeological environments of 51 African countries in Africa. The newly established collaboration will further enrich the African Groundwater Atlas by including critical social science elements for sustainable groundwater development in Sub-Saharan Africa
Impact No outputs or outcomes have yet resulted from this collaboration.
Start Year 2017
 
Description GroFutures transboundary Iullemmeden Basin Stakeholder Inception Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact GroFutures Iullemmeden Basin Stakeholder Workshop was 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). The workshop was hosted by the GroFutures team from UAM (Professor Yahaya Nazoumou, Dr. Ouassa Tiekoura), the University of Maiduguri in Nigeria (Professor Ibrahim Baba Goni, Dr. Shettima Abba Gana), and IRD (Dr. Guillaume Favreau). Over 40 participants participated and included representatives from agricultural cooperatives (Coopérative périmètre irrigué in Maradi, Coopérative agricole in Gaya), regional (Maradi, Dosso) and national offices of the Ministry of Hydraulics and Sanitation, and local universities (Mardi, Diffa).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://grofutures.org/article/grofutures-launch-in-transboundary-iullemmeden-basin/
 
Description GROFUTURES INCEPTION WORKSHOP IN ADDIS ABABA 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Some 25 social and physical scientists from 12 participating organisations in 11 different countries met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to kick-off the GroFutures project. The GroFutures team began the workshop with a field trip to the Upper Awash Basin to assess changing patterns of groundwater management and use. Team members then worked together to review integrated physical and social science research plans in the 3 focal 'Basin Observatories' comprising the Upper Awash (Ethiopia), Great Ruaha (Tanzania), and Iullemmeden (Niger/Nigeria).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://grofutures.org/article/grofutures-launched-at-inception-workshop-in-addis-ababa/
 
Description GroFutures Great Ruaha Basin Stakeholder Inception Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Sokoine University of Agriculture of Tanzania hosted the GroFutures Great Ruaha Basin 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 (The Guardian, Mwananchi).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://grofutures.org/article/grofutures-launch-in-tanzania/
 
Description GroFutures Upper Awash Basin Stakeholder Inception Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact GroFutures Ethiopian team led by Prof. Tenalem Ayenew hosted an inception workshop held at Addis Ababa on July 9, 2016. The workshop was attended by national and local level stakeholders from ministries (Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources) zonal and wereda-level water, mineral, agriculture offices, Awash River basin and oromia irrigation development authorities, and zonal and wereda level administrations.
Richard Taylor, lead principal investigator of the groundwater futures project, opened the workshop pointing out the importance of understanding and managing the available groundwater for drinking and especially, sustainable irrigated agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa. He added, grofutures project is seeking to improve the understanding and management of groundwater resources under the changing climate and development practices through answering questions regarding how much groundwater is available, how much water is accessible and how much is renewable. He also demonstrates, how important it would be to understand the tradeoffs and opportunities of intensive groundwater use and to answer critical questions including what role do the irrigation officers and local farmers get in the discussion of future groundwater development and use. He wrapped up the opening of the workshop by stating that grofutures is about knowledge generation to substantially improve understanding of replenishment of the groundwater resource and how it behaves in the future as a function of climate change, change in land use land cover and trends of groundwater use.
A number of discussion points both from the physical science grofutures team (Prof. Tenalem and Ato Behailu) and social science team (John Thompson, Moutuma and Birhanu) were presented and thoroughly discussed by the participants. The physical science team presented the physical environment of Upper Awash basin with particular emphasis to Becho and Koka plane, which are focal areas of the grofutures research in the Upper Awash basin. Methodology of groundwater assessment, data availability, preliminary results and next work plan have been presented. Water quality assessment, within the context of the grofutures objective were raised to be incorporated by the participants.
Besides, wereda level field survey on population growth, population density, irrigation area, land use and land cover, types, characteristics and ownership of shallow wells and water extraction technologies were presented by the social science team. After important reflections which will enrich the theme of the project were gathered from the participants, Prof. John Thompson, lead investigator of the social component of the groundwater futures project, concluded aspect of the social presentation by emphasizing the importance of identifying groundwater development pathways in the course of grofutures research period, which enable us move from narrow set of 'groundwater roads' to a wider set of possible groundwater futures that are more proper, sustainable and bring about large scale benefits to poverty reduction and improvements in wellbeing.
Group discussions on two key points: 1. the key opportunities (physical, socioeconomic and political) and threats to improving GW management in Upper Awash basin for alleviating poverty and improving livelihoods and 2. the current and projected uses of groundwater for agricultural water supplies (e.g. crops, livestock's) created a ground to exchange ideas among stake holders. Important thinking and finding generated from the group discussions were presented for the attendants.
Finally, as the nature of the project is multidisciplinary integrating social and natural science, the need to have a platform for the different stakeholders to exchange information were raised. The grofutures team and leaders of the project thank the participants for their insight during the discussions and willingness to cooperate in the future.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Pan-African Groundwater-level (Chronicles) Training Workshop in Morogoro,Tanzania 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 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. Participants comprised PhD students and more experienced researchers (mentors & supervisors) as well as representatives from government ministries and the private sector, and included team members from all 5 UPGro consortium projects GroFutures, BRAVE, Hidden Crisis, GroForGood, and T-Group. Training focused on the application of the water table fluctuation method for analysing groundwater-level records and was led by GroFutures and The Chronicles Consortium, an international consortium of scientists from across Africa and beyond collating and analysing multi-decadal records of groundwater levels in order to assess the impacts of groundwater use, climate variability and change, and land-use change on groundwater storage across Africa. In addition to addressing key capacity-strengthening goals, the workshop provided a platform for the co-production of knowledge. As a result, a collaborative, pan-African analysis of multi-decadal groundwater-level records is in preparation and a number of participants is expected to contribute their national-scale analyses to an upcoming special section of Hydrogeology Journal.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://grofutures.org/article/pan-african-groundwater-level-analysis-and-training-workshop/