, Volume 41, Issue 7, pp 773–776 | Cite as

Reducing Risks to Rural Water Security in Africa

  • Rob HopeEmail author
  • Tim Foster
  • Patrick Thomson


With increasing hydro-climatic risks in Africa all water resources will be affected (Vorosmarty et al. 2010; IPCC 2012). But the response to climate variability of groundwater will be slower than that of surface water. Groundwater resources are more resilient due to aquifer storage which acts as a buffer during periods of little or no rainfall. Despite the significant availability of groundwater resources across the major geological formations in Africa, the quantitative and qualitative distribution remains partly understood (MacDonald et al. 2012). Adapting to environmental change will likely require increasing use of groundwater for both domestic and productive uses. Information costs in recording longitudinal data on aquifer recharge and use are prohibitively high and point estimates from a limited sample of verifiable drilling sites provides partial information on whether shifting patterns of groundwater availability are attributable to environmental or operational...


Groundwater Resource Water User Millennium Development Goal Water Service Sustainable Development Goal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This paper is an output from the Smart Water Systems project (R5737) supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) for the benefit of developing countries. However, the views expressed and the information contained in it are not necessarily those of or endorsed by DFID, which can accept no responsibility for such views or information or for the reliance placed on them.


  1. Arlosoroff, S., G. Tschannerl, D. Grey, W. Journey, A. Karp, O. Langenegger, and R. Roche. 1987. Community water supply: The handpump option. Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  2. Bannerjee, S., and E. Morella. 2011. Africa’s water and sanitation infrastructure: Access, affordability, and alternatives. Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  3. Biermann, F., K. Abbott, S. Andresen, K. Bäckstrand, S. Bernstein, M.M. Betsill, H. Bulkeley, B. Cashore, et al. 2012. Navigating the anthropocene: Improving earth system governance. Science 335: 1306–1307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cairncross, S., J. Bartram, O. Cumming, and C. Brocklehurst. 2010. Hygiene, sanitation and water: What needs to be done? PLoS Medicine 7: 1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Harvey, P., and B. Reed. 2007. Community-managed water supplies in Africa: Sustainable or dispensable? Community Development Journal 42: 365–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hope, R.A., Thomson, P., and Foster, T. 2012. Harnessing mobile communications innovations for water security. Global Policy. doi: 10.1111/j.1758-5899.2011.00164.
  7. IPCC. 2012. Special report on managing extremes and disasters to advance climate change adaptation. Inter-governmental panel on climate change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. MacDonald, A.M., Bonsor, H.C., Dochartaigh, B.É.Ó., and Taylor, R.G. 2012. Quantiative maps of groundwater resources in Africa. Environmental Research Letters 7. doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/7/2/024009.
  9. Ostrom, E. 1990. Governing the commons. The evolution of institutions for collective action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. RWSN. 2010. Myths of rural water supply sector, Perspectives No. 4. Rural Water Supply Network: Gland, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  11. Thomson, P., Hope, R.A., and Foster, T. 2012. GSM-enabled remote monitoring of rural handpumps: A proof of concept study. Journal of Hydroinformatics. doi: 10.2166/hydro.2012.183.
  12. UN. 2011. The human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. United Nations General Assembly, A/HRC/18/L.1, 23 Sept 2011.Google Scholar
  13. Vorosmarty, C., J.P.B. McIntyre, M.O. Gessner, et al. 2010. Global threats of human water security and river biodiversity. Nature 467: 555–561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. WHO/UNICEF. 2012. Joint monitoring programme for water supply and sanitation data tables [online]. WHO and UNICEF. Retrieved April 20, 2012 from

Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geography and the EnvironmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations