Communicating groundwater research: the example of Oju and Obi, eastern Nigeria

MacDonald, A.M. ORCID:; Davies, J.. 2001 Communicating groundwater research: the example of Oju and Obi, eastern Nigeria. British Geological Survey, 16pp. (WC/00/007) (Unpublished)

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The British Geological Survey has been working with WaterAid to improve water supplies for poor communities in rural Nigeria. Oju and Obi are two adjacent local government areas in Benue State, Nigeria. During the annual dry season (November to April) there is an acute water shortage and much of the population of 300 000 have to rely on unprotected ponds and seepages which are often far from communities. If available, groundwater would offer the safest, easiest and least expensive solution to the water supply problem. The area is underlain by mudstones. Prior to the BGS study, little was known about the potential for finding groundwater in mudstone environments. After a two year study, involving 75 km of geophysical surveys and 54 exploratory boreholes, BGS concluded that sustainable groundwater resources do exist in the mudstone environment of Oju and Obi. Simple geophysical techniques could be used to identify good sites for boreholes or wells, if interpreted carefully. This information could be used to improve the quality of life of 300 000 people. Communication and partnership were essential aspects of the research. Various organisations had an interest in the outcome of the research. The degree of detail required by the different users varied considerably, so the research had to be effectively communicated in a number of ways. BGS worked closely with WaterAid’s local partner, the Water and Sanitation Unit (WASU) of the local government. Every aspect of the research was discussed with the WASU, from choosing where research sites should be located to designing the form the outputs of the research should take. The partnership was facilitated by several participatory workshops, substantial field training and involvement in the WASU’s weekly planning meetings. Although it was time consuming keeping the WASU fully informed of the methods, rationale and progress of the research, there were many beneficial impacts. Firstly, it meant that the WASU could confidently prepare communities that were used as test sites. Consequently, relations with the local communities were excellent and research activities could proceed rapidly with few misunderstandings. Secondly, the WASU were in a much better position to accept and understand the results of the research, since they were involved in its design. Thirdly, continual dialogue with the WASU kept the research from heading off on tangents that may not have had direct relevance to community water supply. Finally, close co-operation with the WASU meant that the results of the research were communicated in ways that were relevant to their needs and skills, for example in simple maps, visual aids and workshops. Although the WASU are implementing the project at community level, the complexity of the groundwater resources require geologists and engineers to help choose optimum sites for boreholes or wells, and to carry out drilling and testing. Capacity to carry out these surveys is found within the state rural water supply agency (BERWASSA) and within WaterAid. BERWASSA staff were involved in the research process in several ways: BERWASSA staff contributed to the design of the research; two substantial workshops were organised to discuss the findings of the study, and geologists from BERWASSA worked with BGS for several months in the field. Detailed reports and guidelines have been written for BERWASSA to help them to develop the groundwater resources of Oju and Obi. In addition to WASU, BERWASSA and WaterAid, BGS developed relations with several other organisations in the water sector of Nigeria. The difficult hydrogeological conditions encountered in Oju and Obi are found throughout several other states in south-east Nigeria, so there was much interest in the study from water engineers and geologists working in these areas. In response, BGS organised a three day workshop to discuss the results of the investigations in Oju and Obi. Twelve UNICEF water engineers for the Eastern Zone attended, two professors from University of Nigeria Nsukka and two geologists from the Nigerian Geological Survey. Many comparisons were drawn between the experiences of participants in their areas and those found in Oju and Obi.

Item Type: Publication - Report
Programmes: BGS Programmes > Groundwater Management
Funders/Sponsors: Department for International Development (DfID)
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This item has been internally reviewed but not externally peer-reviewed
Additional Keywords: GroundwaterBGS, Africa, Groundwater, development, International development
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 21 Feb 2013 15:03 +0 (UTC)

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