In association with the University of Toronto Scarborough, UniWater has received support from Grand Challenges Canada, which is funded by the Government of Canada. This funding will enable UniWater to develop the lectures for the MSc programs in Water Resources for Sub-Saharan Africa. The amount of the funding is $100,000 over 18 months. “Grand Challenges Canada is dedicated to supporting bold ideas with big impact in global health.” For more information on these programs, please see GrandChallenges.ca
Steve Schneider of Schneider Water Services (www.seidc.com) has generously donated copies of the book he wrote entitled Water Supply Well Guidelines for use in Developing Countries for use in the MSc programs. Steve and his family have been involved in all aspects of water well drilling domestically and internationally for decades. This book has been peer reviewed and can be used for establishing contract specifics for drilling in developing countries where drilling and well construction regulations or guidelines are absent.
Golder Associates Ltd has become UniWater’s first funding partner! The engineers and scientists of this global consulting firm have donated funds to help establish a departmental library at the University of Calabar in Nigeria. Thank you Golder!
Dr Bridget Scanlon was welcomed to UniWater Education’s Board of Directors. Bridget is a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin and brings with her experience in groundwater resources, recharge and irrigation in semi-arid regions.
Since opening our mailbox up for donations of curricula in October 2012, we have experienced a great response from fellow professionals who wish to contribute to the profession in supporting this program. We are very excited to see this response, and we humbly thank each and every one of you!
At this time, the disciplines which we need further input include the following: the fundamentals of hydrogeology, borehole geophysics, and the interpretation of pumping test data. If you have contributions to add to our collection, please do so using the link at the right, or we can provide access to a dropbox folder.
UniWater is now in the postition to accept donations of curricula for use in the MSc Hydrogeology programs for sub-Sahara Africa. These programs are aimed at increasing the number of technical specialists in these countries who are capable of contibuting to finding solutions to the water crisis. By training more hydrogeologists the water sector will be improved and there will be less reliance on foreign aid and technical expertise in the WatSan sector.
The program consists of 12 modules: Fundamentals of Hydrogeology; Applied Basic Hydrogeology; Groundwater and Geotechnics; Hydrochemistry; Groundwater Geophysics; Quantified Hydrogeology; Well Hydraulics; Groundwater Contamination; Integrated Water Resource Management; Borehole Drilling and Completions; Borehole Geophysics, and Field School.
All donations are welcome – as is. No formating is required as UniWater will take care of this. References will be properly provided, and in the event that a figure is included with no reference, it will be replaced with another which is properly referenced. Donor approval of the finished content will be sought.
Please click on the Donation reference to the right. Thanks!
Laurra Olmsted of UniWater Education attended the International Association of Hydrogeologists Congress 2012 in Niagara Falls, Ontario in September. This congress was the top of its kind with 900 delegates, 8 concurrent sessions of hydrogeology talks, and 160 posters.
Of particular note to UniWater’s activities was the opportunity to bring collaborators together for the upcoming program in Nigeria. Laurra was able to meet and discuss details of the program with collaborators Professor Aniekan Edet (Calabar University, Nigeria), Dr Mandy Meriano (University of Toronto), Professor Ken Howard (University of Toronto), Dr Segun Adelana (former IAH VP for sub-Saharan Africa), members of the Burdon Groundwater Network, and many other interested people. This meeting was very energizing and will assist in further communications as this program proceeds in development.
There is a book called ‘Rohstoffe’ from the Erklaerung von Bern (the Bern Declaration book called ‘Commodities’). If you are aware of this book in English, please contact us at email@example.com
Africa’s Hidden Water Wealth
By ALAN MacDONALD
Published: June 17, 2012
FOR a continent where more than 300 million people lack access to safe drinking water, Africa is sitting on a lot of it.
The journal Environmental Research Letters recently published a set of maps of groundwater resources in Africa, the results of two years of research led by the British Geological Survey and financed by the British Department for International Development. The research showed that in Africa the volume of water naturally stored underground within the cracks and pores of rocks is much larger (possibly 20 times more) than the 8,000 cubic miles of water visible in lakes and rivers. This water holds enormous potential to help people and nations move out of poverty, produce more food and better adapt to climate change. But it also could lead to tensions between neighboring countries.
At least 45 transboundary aquifers have been identified in Africa so far, and competition sometimes leads to serious tensions. However, since groundwater moves very slowly (usually less than three feet per day), shared aquifers should be seen as vehicles for cooperation, rather than competition, and identifying and characterizing the aquifers is the first step.
Recognizing this, in December 2011 the United Nations General Assembly called upon its members to begin working toward a common goal: the effective management of their shared groundwater resources.
At the moment, the main constraint on supplying safe drinking water is lack of money. If there is sufficient investment in investigating groundwater, and water wells are carefully sited, it is usually possible to drill a well that can provide enough safe water for communities at a reasonable cost. Groundwater responds slowly to droughts and floods and, as a result, is much more resilient to climate variability than water supplies drawn from rivers or ponds. Therefore, serious and sustained investment in water wells and pumps will help provide a reliable and secure water supply to a significant number of those without safe drinking water.
Money on its own, however, will not solve drinking-water problems. About 30 percent of Africa’s water wells are no longer operational, so donors like the World Bank, the Gates Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development need to get serious about maintenance and sustainability of services. New water supplies tend to gravitate to the better off, so investment in new services should be aimed at more remote areas where many of the poorest live; and with increased groundwater use comes the need for more qualified and experienced people to develop and manage the resource.
A major concern is that people may use the groundwater for whatever seems like a good idea at the time in a way that is unsustainable. There is much discussion about food insecurity in Africa, and at first glance irrigation based on groundwater seems like the perfect answer. However, it is not that simple. Our maps show that away from the large aquifers under the Sahara there are not many places where you can drill a water well and expect to pump out enough water to sustain center pivot irrigators like those in Nebraska. A potential compromise may be to encourage small-scale irrigation using lower yielding water wells. This approach will also require significant investment in expertise within Africa in groundwater development and governance and in reducing the costs of drilling and pumps.
And what about all that water under the Sahara? As inviting as it is, unfortunately this fossil water is not that easy to get at, requiring expensive, deep water wells and large pipelines to move the water to where people need it. Libya is the one country to have invested heavily in using Saharan groundwater, having spent some $20 billion to supply water to the coastal cities and for irrigation.
We should not be distracted by the large aquifers below the Sahara and dreams of cross-continental pipelines. The priority must be to serve those who still have to take unsafe drinking water from ponds and holes in dry riverbeds — and to do this sensibly and sustainably. We should get on with the job of getting drilling costs down and construction standards up and supporting and developing groundwater professionals in Africa. Then we can concentrate on helping communities, small towns and whole nations to sustainably develop and protect the groundwater under their feet.
Alan MacDonald is a principal hydrogeologist at the British Geological Survey.