Sharing of groundwater data between the Botswana Department of Water and Sanitation and other key stakeholders such as decision makers, policy makers and other institutions who have interest in groundwater management has been a challenge due to lack of digital integrated systems to facilitate the sharing of data between various stakeholders for timely and effective use thereof. This shortcoming made it difficult for water practitioners to timeously share data on water quality, borehole information and water availability which becomes key information for water planning in the country. Previously the department had six different databases which resided in different divisions which hampered data harmonization and effective planning. Due to climate change impact, water becomes scarcer and having accurate and timely data is becoming more important.
In addressing the growing data sharing and harmonisation problem, the government of Botswana, Department of Water and Sanitation and the SADC- Groundwater Management Institute (SADC-GMI) collaborated in implementing the Integrated Groundwater Resources Data Management System project for Botswana, the project which was commissioned on 29 January 2020. The objective of this project was to integrate the National Geoscience Information system (NIGIS) database model with the HydroGeo Analyst (HGA), load all the data from NIGIS (Water module) into HGA and develop a web-based application to access the HGA customized solution.
The integrated system will provide water practitioners with the capacity to interpret groundwater data timely and be able to serve instant access to data for those who require it for decision making purposes. Although the system is housed at the Department of Water and Sanitation, Gaborone, it will serve a wide spectrum of stakeholders who have interest in water resources management. Before this integration project, business people and farmers who requiredwater related data drove to the Department to physically request data they required.However, through this new platform, they will be able to access data at the click of the button, without having to waste time that could have been invested elsewhere.
Mr. Bochengedu Somolekae, Geospatial System Analyst from the Department of Water and Sanitation speaking at the launch of the system at the Department of Water and Sanitation Headquarters in Gaborone, said this digital system will give the Department the capacity to integrate all data systems into one single platform, and that will aid decision making processes relating to water resources management and water planning for the country, thus doing away with fragmented systems used in the past.
This pilot project is facilitated through the sub-Grant scheme under the Sustainable Groundwater Management in SADC Member States project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA) through the World Bank project being implemented by the SADC-GMI. The said sub-grant schemewas established to avail financing to SADC Member States for the implementation of small-scale, national level pilot projects that would demonstrate infrastructure solutions to groundwater challenges.
The project was launched on the 29th of January 2020 in the presence of the government representatives and other key stakeholders who hold high interest in the project.
“One of the major social benefits of the project is the contribution to water security as water practitioners, using the digital platform will be able to plan for sustainable water resource management to ensure that people have access to acceptable quantity and quality of water for health, livelihoods and production, which is not always possible if water related data is fragmented”, concluded Mr. Bochengedu Somolokae.