Sustainable Groundwater in Africa

The Project pursues a coherent research agenda on groundwater (GW) development and management in Sun-Saharan Africa (SSA) that incorporates ecosystem based approach (through development of ecosystem focused thresholds of GW use and Ecosystem-focused GW governance models). It applies current best-available understanding from around the globe, while catering for the particular challenges and needs presented by the SSA case and variation thereof across the region. The project builds on and expands work conducted during 2012-2014, including that from a Rockefeller Foundation funded, pan-Africa study, and WLE support. The project also aims to formulate and implement stable flow of bilateral funds to enhance this work in SSA. For 2015, one activity will relate to publishing of a book with CRC Press/Balkema, Taylor & Francis Group on ‘Global Advances in Groundwater Management and Governance - Embracing the Linkages for Sustainable Benefits’, which will take a broad, essentially global, view of advances in groundwater management and governance. Focus will be on the management and governance aspects and on advances in knowledge on topics that are pressing due to drivers of change (climate change, population growth, food insecurity, etc.). It will draft in recent experience from a world-wide project on Groundwater Governance, and its components of regional assessments and thematic papers. It will also address issues of conjunctive management of GW and SW, to raise the conventional paradigm of segmented management to a purposefully integrated approach, building on present knowledge and experience. Secondly, the project will provide a bridge to the initiation of Ramotswa transboundary aquifer (TBA) project (TB funded by USAID in 2015) and initiate its implementation. The Ramotswa study intends to build the necessary institutional capacity and technical and socio-economic knowledge of this TBA between South Africa and Botswana in order to enable this aquifer to play a significant but informed role in overall water security, drought resilience and transboundary cooperation on shared water resources. It is anticipated to become a signature project under the USAID Global Development Lab, and will be implemented through an ongoing USAID Project RESILIM. Thirdly, the GW -Africa project will further develop and document the work on GW and ecosystem services (ESS). The intension is to use an ESS and resilience framework of ESS&R – to ensure sustainable utilization of GW, for agriculture and other uses. The vehicle for that will be awareness raising material internally within WLE (a Framework Document-FD) as well as externally (to be determined later, but could be a derivative and targeted adaptation of the FD). The FD will be conceptualized and sketched out at the WLE Workshop in Nov 2014. It will subsequently be further consulted and consolidated with stakeholders before being released as a 5-10 pages briefing note. Also, research related to the bearing capacity of aquifers and associated ESSs will be further explored. The first step will be to consolidate and publish a peer-reviewed journal paper on the work already completed for the South African Water Research Commission (WRC) - in 2014. This work has devised and tested a novel approach for assessing the upper limits for GW use at catchments scale through the quantitative assessment of base flows, recession flows and environmental instream flow requirements for rivers.