24.01.2019 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

Regional Training on Integrating Groundwater Management within River Basins in Sub-Saharan Africa

Participants of the Regional Training workshop on Integrating Groundwater Management within River Basins at Kenya Water Institute (c)UNESCO

A Regional Training Workshop on Integrating Groundwater Management with River Basins took place in Nairobi - Kenya, from 15 to 17 January 2019, to share country experiences and deepen research and information on groundwater resources for policy-making.

Groundwater management in Africa can be an essential component of climate change adaptation strategies. As a result of rapid population growth and the need for water in various economic sectors across the world, the role of groundwater is steadily expanding. Particularly in Africa, groundwater acts as a vital source for a vast rural population.

As a matter of fact, 400 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa source their domestic water supply from groundwater. Yet, this often abundant resource only accounts for 20 percent of total irrigation. More widespread irrigation could help reduce rural poverty, improve food security and counter droughts.

The key point is understanding groundwater and characterizing the availability and distribution of groundwater resources for gauging the likely development potentials.

Thanks to recent research, UNESCO and its partners identified seventy-two transboundary groundwater zones in Africa, shared by two or more countries. They underlie 40 percent of the continent, where 33 percent of the population lives, often in arid or semi-arid regions. Inventory of such transboundary groundwater aquifers inventories have progressed since 2000 and remain work in progress. Cooperation among countries to develop transboundary aquifer resources will be needed if such resources are to be effectively developed.

For this, UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, UNESCO Category 2 Regional Centre for Groundwater Resources Education, Training and Research- Kenya, with the support from Kenya Water Institute, the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR)- Germany, International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC), The Netherlands, African Network for River Basin Organizations (ANBO), organized a Regional Training workshop on Integrating Groundwater management with River Basins, at the Kenya Water Institute, from 15 to 17 January 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The opening ceremony of the first ever activity at the Regional Groundwater Centre witnessed the presence of Mr. Simon Chelugui, Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Water and Sanitation, and Ms. Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, Director of the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa. Mr. Chelugui stressed the importance of having adequate data and information on groundwater to enable decision makers prepare appropriate policies to regulate the use of the natural resources. "I express my full support to UNESCO Category 2 Centre on research and capacity building activities in the area of groundwater, not only for Kenya, but also for all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa".

"Groundwater and meteorological monitoring systems should be established or expanded at country and basin scales to assess how groundwater responds to abstraction and climate variability" Ms. Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta stated "It is also important that countries share common groundwater resources to facilitate cooperation".

The delivery of the training course was based on the Manual of Integrating Groundwater in River Basin Organizations developed by Africa Groundwater Network (AGWNET) through the sponsorship of BGR. 

The topic of groundwater management in basin organizations is not completely new, and it has been discussed at intergovernmental events in Africa and other meetings. The participants were introduced to eights most important modules of the training manual. In addition all the participants were given an opportunity to present their country status on groundwater, as well we had two presentation from two river basin commission introducing their basin authorities and activities related to groundwater. The resources persons brought exercises on all the modules which was discussed during the training and participants were involved in solving the problems brought out during the exercises. This training ensured that the knowledge at the technical level is communicated upwards to decision makers and horizontally across sectors is essential for main-streaming for any hydrogeological mapping and assessment of groundwater, and so any technical activity should go hand-in-hand with institutional capacity development at the policy level.

The closing ceremony was graced by Chief Administrative Secretary of Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation Ms. Winnie Guchu. She distributed certificates to all the participants and she emphasized on the need to sensitize the communities in the region on the negative interaction between waste (municipal wastewater, industrial wastewater and solid waste) and groundwater. The CAS also highlighted the importance of rainwater harvesting for groundwater aquifer recharge and wanted UNESCO to help the Ministry to run a national campaign on importance of rainwater harvesting in adapting to climate change.

The training course was facilitated by:

  • Dr Neno Kukuric, Director IGRAC, Delft, the Netherlands
  • Dr Callist Tindimugaya, Commissioner, Water Resources Planning and Regulation, Ministry of Water and Environment, Government of Uganda
  • Prof Tamiru Abiye, School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • Dr Richard Owen, Geology Department, University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
  • Dr Jayakumar Ramasamy, Regional Hydrologist, Head of Natural Sciences, UNESCO Nairobi


On the side line of this training workshop UNESCO Category 2 Centres: International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC), The Netherlands, the Regional Centre for Groundwater Resources Education, Training and Research in Africa (RCGW), Kenya signed a formal Memorandum of Understating (MoU) in expanding the cooperation on Groundwater research and capacity building activities. Both institutes agreed to work jointly with UNESCO to generate further projects on groundwater resources and transboundary groundwater mapping in Africa.

Presentations available here in .pdf:

 Country presentations



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