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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  August 2008  /  International conference on groundwater and climate in Africa

International conference on groundwater and climate in Africa

Dr Richard Taylor recently organised the first-ever conference to discuss the role of groundwater in improving livelihoods in Africa under conditions of rapid development and climate change.

International conference on groundwater and climate in Africa

Groundwater & Climate in Africa – held in June 2008 and organised in collaboration with colleagues from the Ugandan Ministry of Water & Environment and UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme – was one of the first conferences in the world to discuss the twin impacts of development and climate variability and change on groundwater resources and groundwater-based ecosystems.

Dr Taylor, who was co-chair of the conference’s international organising committee and chair of its scientific steering committee, said: “Groundwater is the daily source of drinking water for more than half a billion people across Africa. Preferential warming in Africa as a result of climate change is predicted to increase the variability of rainfall, flow of rivers and levels of lakes, reducing their reliability as sources of freshwater.

“Climate change, rapid population growth and economic development over the 21st century are expected to increase dramatically African reliance upon groundwater in order to improve critically limited access to safe water, to sustain food security and to promote agricultural and industrial development. The impact of climate variability and change on groundwater resources remains, however, one of the most persistent knowledge gaps identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in both its 3rd (2001) and 4th (2007) Assessment Reports.”

The conference was held in Kampala, Uganda, and brought together more than 300 water scientists, managers and policymakers, including parliamentarians, from 23 countries in Africa and 14 non-African countries.

The conference featured 96 presentations that contributed to six strategic themes that included: the impacts of climate variability and change on groundwater-based livelihoods and groundwater-fed ecosystems; monitoring and modelling of groundwater replenishment and use; estimation of groundwater resources and demand; and groundwater management in arid, semi-arid and humid environments under a changing climate.

With more than 20 hours of dedicated discussion time culminating in two roundtable discussions, participants were able to translate scientific and policy-related research findings into concrete technical and policy recommendations. These were summarised in the ‘Kampala Statement’, for national governments in Africa, regional, basin-wide and transboundary organisations, as well as international fora including the 5th World Water Forum and Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009.

To find out more about the conference, including a five-minute film, please click here.

Original story written by UCL Communications.  To view original story, click here.


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