Connecting Waterpeople

Estimating domestic self-supply groundwater use in urban continental Africa

  • Estimating domestic self-supply groundwater use in urban continental Africa
    Self-supply of groundwater for domestic use in urban Sub-Saharan Africa. Credit: IHE Delft

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IHE Delft Institute for Water Education is the largest international graduate water education facility in the world.
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IHE Delft alumnus Rafael Chavez, Hans van der Kwast, Jan Willem Foppen and co-authors from other institutes have published an Open Access paper entitled ‘Estimating domestic self-supply groundwater use in urban continental Africa’.

The paper which can be accessed here, was published in the high impact journal Environmental Research Letters. The video abstract of the paper can be viewed on the right hand side of this article.

Self-supply of groundwater for domestic use in urban Sub-Saharan Africa is common, but the extent to which it is practiced is unknown. 

The authors developed an open data based GIS method for continental Africa (excluding the islands) using groundwater storage, depth to groundwater, aquifer productivity, and population density data. They also developed proxies for public supply network coverage and socio-economic status, incorporating restriction measures for groundwater use. 

The results indicate that in 2015, about 369 million urban inhabitants (~79% of the total urban population) of continental Africa could potentially supply themselves with groundwater. However, the likely number of urban inhabitants using groundwater obtained via self-supply was less: about 150 million (~32% of the total urban population). 

With the robust GIS based methodology presented in the publication, the urban population using self-supply groundwater for domestic use can be determined, which is essential to inform policy and practice, and to influence public investment.

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