The African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) launched its Pan-African Groundwater Program (APAGroP) during a two-day Experts’ and Stakeholders’ Workshop held on October 1-2, 2019, in Nairobi, Kenya. APAGroP is conceived as a strategic partnership platform for brokering groundwater information, and for supporting the strengthening of member states and regional and international organizations in their capacity to manage groundwater sustainably. The program will capitalize on strong convergence between AMCOW’s renewed commitment to groundwater and the expressed interest from various groundwater-focused networks, including the Groundwater Solutions Initiative for Policy and Practice (GRIPP), to support such initiative.
AMCOW, the intergovernmental apex body on water in Africa, was established in 2002 with its secretariat in Abuja, Nigeria, to provide political oversight and promote cooperation, security, social and economic development, and poverty eradication among member states. The aim is to achieve this through the effective management of the continent’s water resources, and the provision of water supply and sanitation services.
In recognition of the importance of groundwater to the continent’s sustainable development, a continent-wide strategic groundwater initiative was part of the resolution of AMCOW’s Sixth Ordinary Session in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, in May 2007. While initial ambitions evolved around formalizing the initiative as an African Groundwater Commission, subsequent attempts and further analysis carried out at several meetings, including the Technical Advisory Meeting and Africa Groundwater Stakeholders Workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 2017, and the 7th Africa Water Week in Libreville, Gabon, in 2018, resulted in the initiative being invigorated as the strategic APAGroP.
APAGroP strongly aligns with the AMCOW strategy for the period 2018-2030, guiding its activities and the continent towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as the Africa Water Vision 2025 and the AfricaSan Ngor Commitments for sanitation and hygiene.
The Experts’ and Stakeholders’ workshop provided background presentations of APAGroP as well as fruitful deliberation on the state of knowledge and management of groundwater in the African continent. Presentations were made by AMCOW, international and African research institutions, Regional Economic Communities (e.g., Economic Community of Central African States [ECCAS], Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS], Intergovernmental Authority on Development [IGAD], Southern African Development Community [SADC]), international and intergovernmental organizations (e.g., Center for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe [CEDARE], Observatoire du Sahara et du Sahel [OSS]), as well as key international river basin organizations (African Network of Basin Organizations [ANBO]) and financing institutions. The workshop, supported by AMCOW, a recent Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) networking grant to the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the British Geological Survey (BGS), as well as the successful research program – Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor (UPGro), helped crystalize a way forward in further harnessing and harvesting best knowledge and practice around groundwater to support sustainable development in the continent. GRIPP was strongly represented at the workshop through the following partners: Africa Groundwater Network (AGW-Net); Association of Water Well Drilling Rig Owners and Practitioners (AWDROP); BGS; Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Germany; International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH); International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC); IWMI; Skat Consulting Ltd. (Skat); The World Bank (WB); and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (UNESCO-IHP). These partners expressed strong interest in further supporting the rollout of APAGroP.
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