The project covers three shared aquifers involving seven NBI Member States. These are Kagera aquifer shared by Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda; Mt. Elgon aquifer shared by Kenya and Uganda and Gedaref-Adigrat aquifer share by Ethiopia and Sudan
The Executive Director of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) Secretariat, Prof. Seifeldin Hamad Abdalla and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative for Uganda, Ms. Elsie G. Attafuah recently signed a USD 5.3 million groundwater project document, to be implemented over a period of five years.
The aim of the project whose implementation commenced on June 1, 2020 is to improve the understanding of available groundwater resources and demonstrate how to optimise the joint use of surface and ground waters.
The interaction between groundwater and surface water systems (rivers, wetlands, lakes) has not been adequately considered in most transboundary river basin management initiatives, including the Nile Basin. The most pressing driver of heightened interest around groundwater in the Nile Basin is the growing imbalance between water demand and water supply.
This necessitates the need to look for alternative water sources. Groundwater holds the promise of closing the gap between water supply and demand, and in buffering the effects of climate variability. The other driver of interest around groundwater is the role that groundwater plays in addressing the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets for drinking water (SDG 6.1) and other SDG6 targets such as Integrated Water Resources Management SDG 6.5. To reach SDG 6 goals, groundwater delivered through multiple delivery mechanisms (e.g. boreholes, springs, reticulated systems, dug wells) has a vital role to play.
The project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), covers three shared aquifers involving seven (7) NBI Member States. These are the Kagera aquifer shared by Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda; Mt. Elgon aquifer shared by Kenya and Uganda and Gedaref-Adigrat aquifer share by Ethiopia and Sudan.
Member States will be supported in improving the knowledgebase and capacity for sustainable management and utilisation of groundwater resources. This is in addition to putting in place and supporting cross-border mechanisms for joint management and sustainable utilisation of shared aquifers.
Pilot projects will also be implemented in the study areas to demonstrate novel approaches for sustainable groundwater management. The results and lessons will help to inform the development of national and regional action plans. Successful pilots from this project will be scaled up through national and sub-regional initiatives.
The Groundwater project is one of the interventions by NBI during the next 10 years (2017 – 2027), aimed at supporting Member States to address the rising water demands for their rapidly growing economies and population.