Groundwater is the main water source available in many African countries; it has contributed to improve access to water for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Its management in the context of a river/lake basin requires knowledge and a specific approach for management of both resources (surface and ground water) within IWRM.
This training course on groundwater management was held in August 24-28, 2015. It resulted from collaboration between the Regional Association of natural resources users in Niger Basin River (CRU-BN) and Africa Groundwater Network (AGW-Net), and with the support of Cap-Net UNDP and the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) through the Burden Network. It was delivered in French language, and 184 participants from 6 West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Niger, and Togo) were attending the meeting, among them 11 females.
The course built capacity on groundwater resources management of 18 persons from different professional profiles, and different countries. The immediate outcome of the course was that participants got improved knowledge on groundwater, and became aware of its relevance for economic development. Because most of participants are working in agriculture sector, focus was concentrated on groundwater use for irrigation and how it may be polluted. Participants were sensitized on the impact of land use on groundwater quality.
A gender balance was reached in this workshop, and for the first time the majority of participants were women. Among 18 persons attending the course, 11 of them were female (from community based associations, academic staff and water agency).
Discussions were organized on the Kari village case visited on Wednesday. Interesting aspects of IWRM, specifically gender principles related to women’s involvement on land tenure and agricultural practices, are experienced by people living in this area. In this visited area, every woman who gets married receives land to develop gardening activity. The success of this activity caused more groundwater withdrawal, so that the resource is drying up earlier in March – April, and as a consequence the activity is stopped after this period.
The sustainability of groundwater was raised by participants, and possible solutions were discussed referring to aquifer recharge using rain water runoff, optimal use of irrigated water, and change in irrigation techniques.
Beside that, some issues like recharge area identification, recharge quantification, surface and ground water relations, and stakeholder role in groundwater management, have drawn attention of participants.