Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa (GroFutures)

GroFutures is a 4-year interdisciplinary project aiming to develop both the scientific basis and the participatory management processes by which groundwater resources can be used sustainably for poverty alleviation.

Social and natural scientists from Europe and Africa are working in a consortium, combining cutting-edge physical and social science with stakeholder engagement to identify and analyse ‘groundwater development pathways’ in a ‘Network of African Groundwater Observatories’ (NAGO). GroFutures’ ultimate objective is to understand how groundwater can be used in a pro-poor fashion to meet future demands for food, water and environmental services.

Groundwater is a vital source of safe water for drinking, hygiene, irrigation and industry across Sub-Saharan Africa. Groundwater also sustains rivers, lake and wetlands when rainfall is low or absent. Dependency on groundwater is intensifying as demand for food and water rises and variability in rainfall and river flow increase due to climate change.

Within GroFutures, participatory social science methods, including the STEPS Centre’s Pathways Approach and Multicriteria Mapping, will be used elicit groundwater development pathways. A Groundwater Game tool will be developed to aid decision makers assessing trade-offs associated with development pathways, and to include poor people’s voices in decision-making processes on groundwater development pathways. At the same time, high-frequency monitoring data will be used to assess recharge process and groundwater-surface water interactions, while compilation of multi-decadal groundwater level observations across Africa will aid in quantifying climate-groundwater linkages.

The GroFutures consortium brings together several European and African institutions within the NERCs UPGro research programme.

Recent work