The potential impacts of climate change on groundwater management in west Africa

Document Type : Original Research Paper


Emeritus Prof, Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority, Foreign Faculty Professor, University of Taxila for Engineering and Technology, Pakistan


Climate change is probably going to affect groundwater resources, in Sub-Saharan ccountries (SSA) in Africa either directly, by means of changing precipitation patterns, or indirectly through the combination of changing precipitation patterns with evolving land-use practices and water request. West Africa has, over the past few decades, experienced a sharp decline in rainfall and average annual flow of watercourses. A break in the rainfall pattern was observed around 1968-1972. 1970 is considered as the turning point after which the decline in average rainfall worsened from minus 15% to minus 30% depending on the zone. This situation led to the drifting of isohyets by about 200 km to the south. A 1°C increment in temperature could change overflow by 10%, expecting that precipitation levels stay consistent. Any reduction in groundwater recharge will intensify the impact of sea-level rise in coastal aquifers. For various reasons and at various levels, West African countries are dependent on one another. Over the past few decades, this interdependence has not only generated tension, but has also led to a dialogue and cooperation process. Only one country (Burkina Faso) are below the international standard for water scarcity (1,700 m3 of renewable fresh water per year per person); On the other hand, there are major problems in terms of availability at the desired time and place. According to the Global Water Partnership, the withdrawal level of renewable water resources in West Africa (excluding Cameroon and Chad) is currently at 11 billion m3 per year for an available 1,300 billion m3, which is less than 1%. Agriculture uses 75% of these withdrawals, domestic consumption 17%, and industry 7%. Although it is by far the highest in proportion, agricultural use of water resources is low. Out of the 75.5 million hectares of arable land in West Africa, only 1.2% (917,000 ha) is developed for irrigation, and 0.8% (635,000 ha) is used effectively.


Main Subjects

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