Adaptive management of groundwater for s-s-irrigation
The research will improve understanding of sustainable development of accessible groundwater (< 25m depth) for small-scale irrigation in sub-Saharan Africa. Sustainable management of groundwater requires understanding the seasonal and inter-annual balances of recharge and abstractions under changing climate and socio-economic conditions. Resource assessments must take account of local conditions to deliver positive impact on poor and marginalized groups. We propose an interdisciplinary approach to investigate constraints on the potential use of groundwater for small-scale irrigation. We will test the hypothesis that community level monitoring of groundwater (levels, spring flows, abstractions) is necessary and feasible for assessment of available resources and for adaptive management under stressed conditions. We will develop a tiered set of tools for estimating recharge and water balances: (1) regional scale; (2) resource unit (catchment) scale; (3) local (community) scale. We will investigate how local monitoring can be incentivized to provide direct benefit to local communities through improved local drought resilience, as well as providing information for management at the resource unit scale. The catalyst grant will allow proof-of-concept work in Ethiopia, stakeholder consultations and collaborative design of the substantive research project with partners in three countries in SSA, and wider evaluation of the concepts in a final workshop involving delegates from six countries.