Making African groundwater visible

The British Geological Survey has just launched the Africa Groundwater Atlas at a major water conference in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. Funded by DFID/NERC/ESRC’s UPGro research program, the Atlas is a gateway to groundwater information for 51 African countries, and to unlocking the potential of groundwater resources in Africa.

The successful, sustainable development of groundwater is vital for future safe water supplies in Africa – but relies on a good understanding of hydrogeology. The Africa Groundwater Atlas is helping water supply planners and practitioners find the high quality country scale African groundwater information they need.

The Atlas provides a consistent overview of groundwater resources, status and management in each country, making information more accessible and allowing comparison between countries. Maps and summaries of key aquifers are supported by facts and figures on climate, surface water, soil and land cover, and background on key hydrogeological issues like groundwater quality. Links to more detailed information help those who need to know more Also available is the online Africa Groundwater Literature Archive, where you can search by map or keyword for thousands of reports and articles about African groundwater, and access many of them freely online.

The British Geological Survey developed the Africa Groundwater Atlas in partnership with the International Association of Hydrogeologists and groundwater experts across Africa. The Atlas will continue to be improved in response to the needs of users.

Dr Seifu Kebede, Head of School of Earth Sciences at Addis Ababa University, is a co-author of the Atlas’s Ethiopia page. He says that ‘this comprehensive Atlas will definitely contribute to the development and management of groundwater resources for a sustainable socio-economic outcome in Africa’.

Professor Richard Carter of Richard Carter and Associates, formerly of WaterAid and Cranfield University, says ‘difficulties in accessing data and information about groundwater are often cited as constraints to sustainable water development in Africa. This invaluable resource is a huge investment that will provide a rich resource for development professionals in the years ahead in pursuit of the UN sustainable development goals’.

Peter Ball, a water borehole drilling engineer with 40 years’ experience in Africa, says ‘it’s a great resource – I love the standard layout and fullness of information. It’s all well referenced – so the expert can ‘dig deeper’ as required. I use the Atlas as a primary reference and regularly share its information with others’.