2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (28–31 October 2007)

Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 11:05 AM


USHER, Brent H., Institute for Groundwater Studies, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, 9300, South Africa, usherb.sci@mail.uovs.ac.za

A UNEP/UNESCO a project on the vulnerability and water quality in the aquifers in 11 urban areas in different African countries was undertaken in 2003 to 2005. The author undertook an external evaluation of this project. In each country aims of the project included the following aspects such as the identification of sources of pollution, improved understanding of the relationship between sources and groundwater degradation, improved public awareness, provision of reliable information to local level decision makers and factual material in the review of legislation, suggested aquifer protection policy options and technical co-operation / regional networking.

The evaluation was focused on aspects such as attainment of objectives, achievement of outputs and activities, cost-effectiveness, impact, sustainability of the actions, participation of stakeholders and implementation. This synthesis of the different projects highlighted several important findings for the protection of groundwater quality in Africa's urban areas. These include ways of successful knowledge dissemination though multiple stakeholder involvement, considerations of capacity building initiatives and the alignment of such projects with national and regional thrusts, training considerations and ways forward for groundwater management.

The latter include early warning systems, raising awareness of communities, technical personnel and regulators and decision makers, with several examples of success stories in different countries obtained from the consideration of the eleven projects. Challenges in technical proficiency, regulations and legislation throughout the continent have similar causes and solutions, while the greatest challenge in each country was found to be implementation rather than legislation.

Throughout Africa the causes of urban groundwater quality degradation from onsite sanitation and informal waste disposal yielded similar results in terms of chemical and microbial contaminants. The need for implementing groundwater protection as part of wider management issues can be clearly shown by the eleven cases presented in this project. The experiences in South African cases can be highlighted to show that these are issues that need addressing throughout the continent and the developing world.