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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  2016  /  August 2016  /  Groundwater in dryland Africa

Groundwater in dryland Africa

Richard Taylor to examine replenishment in semi-arid Tanzania

Groundwater in dryland Africa

Professor Richard Taylor has been awarded a £92,000 grant, Banking the Rain: enhancing the resilience of water supplies in dryland Africa, from the UK Engineering  and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) Global Challenges Research Fund

Richard’s earlier research, in central, semi-arid Tanzania, highlighted the dependence of groundwater replenishment on extreme rainfall. Building on this, he will work with Professor Japhet Kashaigili (Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania), Dr. Mark Cuthbert (University of Birmingham) and UCL Geography PhD student, David Seddon, to better understand the processes by which intensive rainfalls replenish groundwater.

The study will examine high-frequency measurements of groundwater levels in response to heavy rainfalls recorded during the 2015-16 El Niño event (see photo).  These measurements were made possible through the deployment of automated data-loggers in advance of the event in November 2015.

The team will test the wider applicability of recharge processes detected at the Makutapora Wellfield in central Tanzania. This will use long-term records of groundwater levels in dryland Africa, in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and Niamey (Niger), recently collated by The Chronicles Consortium.

Critically, the team will also use the improved understanding of recharge process at the Makuapora Wellfield to design adaptive strategies, known as Managed Aquifer Recharge, to optimise the capture and storage of episodic, heavy rainfalls. This wellfield is the primary source of safe water to Dodoma, Tanzania’s capital and a rapidly growing city.

Photograph: Flood discharge of the Little Kinyasungwe River within the Makutapora Wellfied during the 2015-16 El Niño Event (photo: Taylor, 4 April 2016)

For paper on dependence of groundwater replenishment on extreme rainfall, see:

On El Nino flooding in Tanzania, see:

On El Niño Monitoring in Tanzania, see:

For The Chronicles Consortium, see:


El Nino floods