GRIPP in 2017 Groundwater Solutions Initiative for Policy and Practice

Dear GRIPP Partners and Groundwater Enthusiasts,

It seems the year 2017 flew by in a flash flood. Meanwhile, groundwater challenges persist and keep intensifying. Despite the race to the management of groundwater, rather than isolated focus on GRIPP, we believe we have achieved valuable outcomes in 2017. By joining forces, we have published books, promoted GRIPP at over 20 international events and built strong links with donors and national institutions. All of those involved show a keen interest in bringing groundwater into the mix of truly integrated solutions and tools for sustainable water management to support the SDGs.

We are going into an exciting 2018 with lots of new opportunities bearing fruit. Get a snapshot of GRIPP activities, outputs and event highlights below, and discover GRIPP-related projects from our partners.

Best wishes,

Karen Villholth -- Coordinator of GRIPP -- Principal Researcher and Research Group Leader of Resilient and Sustainable Groundwater at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI)


The first face-to-face partners’ meeting of GRIPP was held on 8 February in Geneva, Switzerland. Participants defined the principles of the partnership, including its mission, structure and governance, and designed impact pathways and action plans.

In February, MetaMeta launched three new issues of their Groundwater Magazine Series highlighting ongoing research, field experience and possible solutions for problems related to groundwater. These rigorous case studies offer cautionary tales and lessons learned from the villages of the Central Rift Valley to the ejidos (collective landholdings) of Mexico. Below are highlights from three new issues in the Series with a short summary of each.

A new book by GRIPP Partner Bill Alley, director of science and technology with the National Ground Water Association (NGWA), and science writer Rosemarie Alley addresses issues of contemporary groundwater dependenceHigh and Dry: Meeting the Challenges of the World’s Growing Dependence on Groundwater calls for better understanding and protection of groundwater.

Tapping into new opportunities: Groundwater for irrigation in Laos. In June, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) teamed up to provide recommendations for sustainable development, efficient management, equitable and gender-sensitive access to groundwater to the Lao National Government.

Groundwater Governance in the Arab Region: Taking Stock and Addressing the Challenges.’ This 3-year USAID project implemented by IWMI and national partners across the Middle East-Northern Africa (MENA) region takes the first step in fixing a tangled situation. Highlighted in a synthesis piece on the WLE Thrive Blog are five wicked problems that prevent the MENA region from properly addressing groundwater issues, in addition to some potential solutions.

The MARVI Declaration:Managing Aquifer Recharge and Sustaining Groundwater Use through Village-level Intervention’ is an ACIAR-funded, Western Sidney University-led project working in Gujarat and Rajasthan, India since 2012, to strengthen local capacity for sustainable groundwater management.

This is a unique approach to empowering men and women to own the problematic situation as well as develop their own acceptable solutions, e.g. the formation of village groundwater cooperatives in the study areas. Additionally, they created the MARVI PhotoVoice of village communities.

In July, GRIPP Coordinator Karen Villholth, IWMI, briefed Australian organizations, government officials, consultants and academics about GRIPP and discussed opportunities for collaboration with GRIPP and its partners in connection with the Australasian Groundwater Conference.

The Australian Water Partnership (AWP) is a potential key partner for GRIPP. IWMI and the National Center for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT), represented by Dr. Andrew Ross, have entered into discussions with the AWP about collaborative activities that address the priorities of countries in the Indo-Pacific region for the sustainable development of their groundwater resources.

Arsenic concentrations in irrigated areas of Pakistan soar above safe levels. A study from Eawag Aquatic Research came out this year, revealing that many groundwater wells in the Indus Basin are showing levels of arsenic concentration as high as 200-500 µg/L, though WHO considers 10 µg /L to be the safe limit. Groundwater supplies in Pakistan are essential to over 50 million people living in the densely populated plains along the Indus River.

Afrika Wirtschaft (Africa Economy) Magazine published a glowing 3-page spread on Groundwater--and particularly the GRIPP Partnership--in Africa. The article emphasizes the economic potential of groundwater, but also stresses that using this hidden treasure responsibly and sustainably is extremely important, especially in the world’s dry zones.

“As a scientific institute, we naturally have very close ties to relevant research organizations and can, in addition to our technical expertise, also provide numerous contacts to institutions, authorities and companies in the partner countries,” explains GRIPP Core Partner Dr. Ralf Klingbeil, Senior Expert, Department of Groundwater and Soils, BGR.

In September, GRIPP made a splash emphasizing groundwater topics at the 8th Water Research Horizon Conference (WRHC-8) in Hamburg, Germany. GRIPP Partners from IWMI, the Center for Advanced Water Research (CAWR) and the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) organized an Open Space Workshop on challenges for international groundwater research and possible solutions to sustainable development and management of the resource.

The most comprehensive hydrogeologic assessment of Myanmar's Dry Zone was published after 30 years. In the late 1970s, the Australian Government’s Aid Agency and Myanmar’s Rural Water Supply Division (RWSP) were conducting a Groundwater Resource Assessment for the Central Dry Zone of Myanmar. However, the almost-complete study was never published because of the political climate of the time. With support of the Australian Water Partnership (AWP), Aqua Rock Konsultants and some GRIPP partners, the assessment was updated and completed this year.

GRIPP Partner Spotlight

GRIPP partners International Groundwater Resources Assessment Center (IGRAC), the Center for Advanced Water Research (CAWR), and the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) have co-created a map and interactive portal and inventory of managed aquifer recharge (MAR) interventions globally. By facilitating access and promoting international sharing of information and knowledge on MAR, the MAR portal encourages stakeholders to consider how it can be a viable solution for sustainable groundwater resources development and management.

The Climate Justice Fund Project is making strides on its goal to help Malawi achieve SDG 6. It is working to map all surface water, groundwater, gravity-fed, urban, waste, agricultural and rural water sources across Malawi. They have trained 100+ government staff in data collection and analysis, and have introduced borehole testing for water quality and sustainability, and much more.

The new Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) Draft Strategy 2018-2023 strengthens the theme of Sustainable Groundwater Development. The goal is that groundwater resources are properly considered and sustainably used for developing drinking water supply sources and ensuring their long-term quality and security. The theme comprises three topics: Groundwater Resources Management, Professional Water Well Drilling and Groundwater Abstraction using Solar and Handpumps.

The Ramotswa Project has entered into its second phase. Led by IWMI, the project focuses on one of the most important shared aquifers in the Limpopo Basin--the Ramotswa Aquifer. The project is developing a scientifically informed, integrated and participatory strategy on how to resolve demographic, institutional, and climate-related water issues of the region. Understanding this groundwater resource could play a significant role in addressing multiple-level water insecurity.

Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor (UPGro) is a seven-year African research program that received an A+ rating from the Department for International Development (DFID) and a successful mid-term review by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Attention in 2018 will be on the emerging findings from the five research consortia and their implications for improving groundwater policy, management and development across the continent.

Since its launch, the Africa Groundwater Atlas has been used around 500 times per month, by people across Africa and beyond, and has received very positive feedback from users. Prepared by the British Geological Survey (BGS) and developed as part of UPGro, the Africa Groundwater Atlas received additional funding in 2017. The Atlas is an online resource that provides a consistent overview of the groundwater resources of fifty-one African countries, and a gateway to further information. The Atlas and the accompanying Africa Groundwater Literature Archive help improve the availability and accessibility of high quality information on groundwater in Africa.

The Association of Water Drilling Rig Owners & Practitioners (AWDROP), a non-profit in Nigeria, has been contributing immensely to National Water Policy in curtailing over-abstraction of groundwater in Nigeria. This year they are incorporating a Groundwater Replenishment Program and a Borehole Rejuvenation and Rehabilitation Program into the Nigerian National Water Bill, and boosting regulation on drilling companies.

The Africa Groundwater Network (AGW-Net) has started partnership with a new program on groundwater-surface water interactions. The initiative has received funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York through the Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE) program. They are also developing a SADC course on professional drilling. It is anticipated that early in 2018, short courses on borehole drilling and supervision will be held at the SADC Groundwater Management Institute (GMI) in South Africa, and short course on Procurement, Costing & Pricing and Contract Management will be held at WaterNet in Zimbabwe. Notices will be published in various media once the course dates are finalized.

The German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) contributed to the new “BMZ Water Strategy – A key contribution to implementing the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement” that was published in July 2017, serving as a guiding framework for country strategies and political dialogue. Additionally, they developed a module on sustainable groundwater management as part of a GIZ manual for the implementation of solar powered irrigation (SPIS). BGR has been actively involved in a number of conferences and advocated for GRIPP, including at the 12th Gulf Water Conference in Bahrain, Stockholm World Water Week, and the 8th Water Research Horizon Conference in Hamburg, Germany.

Daugherty Water for Food Institute (DWFI) and partners are contributing to a consortium working to address sustainability concerns for the High Plains Aquifer in the USA, where groundwater is heavily used for food production and serves over seven states. They are developing a comprehensive, aquifer-wide hydrologic model as an important baseline tool to estimate climate change and management impacts on groundwater levels across the region.

IGES’s new strategy is to promote sustainable use of groundwater in ASEAN and South Asian region for climate change adaptation, including, for the mitigation of droughts and for building the resilience of the smallholder farmers. With this, IGES looks forward to collaboration with GRIPP and its partners to highlight the supplementary use of groundwater as a new policy option for climate change adaptation and together intends to find technical and financing solutions to achieve this.

We thank you for your support and contributions in 2017. Please share this with colleagues and people with an interest in groundwater management for development and a sustainable future. We are interested in working broadly with international partners and interdisciplinary teams.

We look forward to working with you in 2018 and wish you the best!

Created By
Madeline Dahm


1. Hamish John-Appleby / IWMI 2. David Brazier / IWMI 3. David Brazier / IWMI 4. Hamish John-Appleby / IWMI 5. Andrew Reckers / IWMI 6. Adam Ojdahl / IWMI 7. Samurdhi Ranasinghe / IWMI 8. Hamish John-Appleby / IWMI 9. Samurdhi Ranasinghe / IWMI 10. Adam Ojdahl / IWMI 11. Andrew Reckers / IWMI

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