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The role of hydrogeology in WASH projects in Africa

MacDonald, Alan; Calow, Roger. 2012 The role of hydrogeology in WASH projects in Africa. [Lecture] In: 39th IAH Congress, Niagara, Canada, 16-21 Sept 2012. (Unpublished)

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Abstract/Summary

Africa lags behind the rest of the world in achieving international targets for access to safe water and sanitation services, with more than 300 million people without access to an improved water supply and 600 million without adequate sanitation. Therefore, there is renewed emphasis to scale up programmes to increase coverage. Improved water supplies generally rely on the development of groundwater; and sanitation programmes depend on the ability of subsurface to assimilate waste. However, despite the important role of groundwater, hydrogeology and hydrogeologists are rarely given due consideration in planning, implementing and appraising these programmes. Here we discuss what hydrogeological science can contribute to water supply and sanitation (WASH) programmes, illustrated using examples from several programmes across Africa. We propose a framework to help prioritise the involvement of hydrogeologists and the role of groundwater science in improving WASH and making interventions more cost effective and sustainable. The same level of hydrogeological expertise is not required in all areas, but should be targeted to where the impact will be greatest. However, to make the decision on the level of expertise required for a programme requires the contribution from a hydrogeologist early in the planning cycle. The important role of hydrogeological and hydrochemical mapping and resource evaluation in planning programmes is discussed using examples from Nigeria and Ethiopia. Different methods for groundwater exploration are discussed using a recent programme in northern Ghana. The role of hydrogeologists in overseeing construction is illustrated from a world bank project in Ethiopia to assess levels of corruption in rural water supply. Hydrogeological science also has a crucial role in researching future opportunities and issues as a result of climate change, population growth, and food insecurity. Hydrogeologists clearly have much to offer WASH programmes. To be most effective hydrogeology should be communicated effectively and in a manner that is easily integrated into existing programmes. Hydrogeologists should also accept that there are some areas where employing modern hydrogeological techniques will not be cost effective and concentrate on the areas where they can best add value.

Item Type: Publication - Conference Item (Lecture)
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2010 > Groundwater Science
Additional Keywords: GroundwaterBGS, Groundwater, Groundwater development
Related URLs:
Date made live: 18 Jun 2013 13:50 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/502309

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