An integrated assessment of groundwater resources and their sustainable use in the Lake Kyoga basin, Uganda

Project summary
An increasing pressure on groundwater resources - the major drinking water resource in many regions of Africa - exists due to climate change, population growth and development. For the Lake Kyoga basin in Uganda, streams and boreholes run dry, leading to the question of how groundwater can be used in a sustainable manner. Data availability is limited, and as ecological and socio-cultural aspects (historical and future development) need to be considered in addition, such a question is challenging to answer. To develop an actionable knowledge base to aid sustainable groundwater development and policy intervention in Uganda and East Africa, the Lake Kyoga basin is selected as a test case.

In this project, we aim to 1) quantify groundwater use under current conditions, 2) characterize the spatial-temporal variability in groundwater storage, recharge and discharge due to groundwater use, 3) assess the perception of groundwater users with respect to water sources, uses and threats to sustainable groundwater use and identify coping measures to groundwater threats, 4) develop suitable indicators of sustainable groundwater use and 5) characterize current and future sustainability of groundwater use considering different adaptation measures and institutional aspects. The study is designed in a nested multi-scale (local, sub-basin, basin) modelling and data collecting approach including statistical analyses, groundwater modeling and ethnographic studies. Furthermore, dissemination and capacity building measures are an integrated part of this project.

Our contribution
The main goal is to analyze the output of our global freshwater model WaterGAP for the whole Lake Kyoga river basin (for example for groundwater use, groundwater resources, river discharge) to provide the large-scale data basis of the nested project design. The water use assumptions from WaterGAP are validated with local available data and are updated in order to improve the macro-scale model with local and regional-scale information. A main aim is to assess the impact of groundwater use on groundwater resources and the hydrological cycle using different indicators, for example changes in streamflow characteristics in dry periods due to groundwater use. We also contribute to the integration of the multi-scale data basis. Furthermore, a workshop about water resources modeling for students and young professionals is held in Uganda to allow knowledge exchange, and a dissemination workshop is planned in the final project phase.

Dr. Hannes Müller Schmied
Prof. Dr. Petra Döll (principal investigator)

May 2017 - April 2020

Volkswagen Foundation in the framework of "Knowledge for Tomorrow - Cooperative Research Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa"