Access to safe and reliable water supplies is a key goal for households and governments across most of Africa.
Groundwater reserves can play a critical role in achieving this, yet risks of contamination and over-abstraction threaten to undermine the resilience of this supply. A rapidly rising trend for privately-developed wells and boreholes raises additional concerns about the vulnerability of water supplies to natural or man-made environmental shocks. The potential scale of the situation is particularly marked in Nigeria where the use of boreholes has increased exponentially since 1999 (from 10% of the population to 38% in 2015), with most other forms of water supply, notably piped tap water, falling.
Developing effective groundwater management approaches that build the resilience of communities is challenging, not least given the range of different actors involved, their competing interests and demands, and variations in the hydrogeological environment.