GroFutures held its 3rd Annual Workshop at Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey (UAM), Niger from the 19th to 23rd of February 2018. The workshop was opened by UAM’s Vice Chancellor in the presence of the Dean of Faculty of Science and Technology and of the Dean of Faculty of Agronomy and attended by a total of 20 national and international team members from Benin, Ethiopia, France, Niger, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, UK and USA. Regional stakeholders from the Niger Basin Authority, Ministry of Hydraulics as well as the French (IRD) and German (BGR) government agencies in Niger also attended. The workshop was hosted and organised by the GroFutures team from UAM led by Professor Yahaya Nazoumou (Department of Geology) and Dr. Ouassa Tiekoura (Department of Sociology) along with Dr. Guillaume Favreau (IRD).
The workshop presented latest evidence from recently established groundwater monitoring in all three GroFutures Basin Observatories in Tanzania (Great Ruaha Sub-catchment), Ethiopia (Upper Awash Basin), and the border region of Niger and Nigeria (Iullemmeden Basin). New data from the trialling and implementation of common questionnaire as well as PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal) research in all three basins were also reviewed; a key outcome from this cross-disciplinary research activity is the development of a range of stakeholder-informed Groundwater Development Pathways. Regional stakeholders were particularly impressed with the new transboundary monitoring infrastructure in the Iullemmeden Basin established under GroFutures.
Open-source modelling software under FREEWAT platform (QGIS-MODFLOW) to be used to ‘stress test’ the sustainability of Groundwater Development Pathways accounting for climate and land-use change was successfully piloted. The team set out a timetable for the finalisation and stress testing of development pathways and the process, Multi-Criteria Mapping (MCM), by which stakeholders will evaluate transparently the merits of different development pathways.
During a field visit to a farm using groundwater for irrigation on the plateau overlooking Niamey, the GroFutures team witnessed an exceedingly rare and auspicious event, a rainstorm during Niger’s dry season! Abdoulaye Koné, an experienced local expert, who has been monitoring rainfall for 27 years, had never previously observed a rain event in February.