SADC-GMI Completes the Groundwater Monitoring Project in the Greater Harare, Zimbabwe Area – 600 families benefit from three production boreholes
Groundwater is a finite resource. Greater Harare in Zimbabwe is highly dependent on groundwater with 28 000 registered boreholes and approximately 80% of the population dependant on groundwater for potable supply. With such dependency, it becomes imperative that the resource is well monitored for sustainable management, and to enhance well-informed decisions at policy formulation levels. For many years, policymakers have struggled with limited information to aid informed decision-making regarding groundwater utilization and characterization. According to the Greater Harare Water and sanitation Strategic Plan, the overall population of Greater Harare is projected to grow from 2.35 million in 2012, to 2.8 million in 2020, and to 4.1 million in 2030. The population increase, combined with the effect of climate variability poses a threat to water security, and it becomes more crucial that water resources are constantly monitored for sustainable development and management.
This pilot project sought to establish a comprehensive groundwater monitoring network to help policymakers with information they require to sustainably manage and plan for groundwater resources, and also augment potable water supply for the grassroots communities in selected areas. The project also helped to address two key challenges, namely groundwater depletion and groundwater quality deterioration which has been becoming a challenge. According to Mr. Wensley Muchineri, Chief Executive Officer of Upper Manyame Sub-Catchment Council, the completion of the Groundwater Monitoring Network project in the Greater Harare has catalysed improved groundwater management for the benefits of the diverse stakeholders in the Upper Manyame and Nyagui Sub-catchments, for current and future utilization.
Through the sub-grant scheme which formed part of the Sustainable Groundwater Management in SADC Member States project, the SADC Groundwater Management Institute – SADC-GMI collaborated with the Government of Zimbabwe (Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement – MLAWRR) to implement the pilot Groundwater monitoring project in the Greater Harare area. Upper Manyame Sub-Catchment Council (UMSCC) was contracted by MLAWRR and SADC-GMI to implement the project which commenced in 2019 and ended in 2021. The project covers Harare and the surrounding satellite towns, collectively known as Greater Harare situated on the Zimbabwean Highveld between latitudes 17° 40’ S and 18° 06’ S, and between longitudes 30° 37’ E and 31° 16’ E.
During the project implementation nine monitoring boreholes and three production boreholes were drilled. Monitoring boreholes were drilled in the following areas respectively: Vainona High School, Oriel Boys High School, UMSCC offices, Harare Polytechnic College, Harare Institute of Technology, Hatfield Primary School, Lord Malvern High School, Glenview 3 Primary School and Southlands.
Approximately 600 families are currently benefiting from the three production boreholes drilled in Southlands, Caledonia and Whitecliff. Beneficiaries are now able to access potable water not far from their homes as the distance and time it took to access water have been drastically reduced. Boreholes were equipped with a Solar-powered system to ensure that communities do not struggle with the high cost of electricity for their operation. About 2.7 million people are benefiting from the monitoring boreholes through sharing of information collected during the monitoring. Now that the project has been completed, the government and other key institutions are able to benefit from the project in terms of policy formulation as they are now enabled to make qualitative decisions based on proper research. The data collected will also enhance the understanding of groundwater and surface water interaction as well as determining the recharge and discharge zones of groundwater in the Upper Manyame Sub-Catchment. “Groundwater monitoring network is the best tool you can have to manage groundwater sustainably”, said Mr Wensley Muchineri Upper Manyame Sub-Catchment Council Chief Executive Officer.
This project of 9 monitoring sites is a pilot from the 95 groundwater monitoring sites designed for the whole Greater Harare. This demonstrates the visionary intentions by MLAWRR to have a comprehensive system to monitor groundwater in the entire area and this contributes to the sustainable conjunctive management and development of both surface and groundwater. There is evidently still huge scope for more work to be done to support effective groundwater monitoring in the Greater Harare.
In order to ensure the project’s sustainability post-installation, MLAWRR and Upper Manyame Sub-Catchment Council educated the benefiting communities on the importance and the benefits of the project as well as how to keep the infrastructure in good condition through prudent operation and maintenance practices. This is to ensure that the community continues to benefit from the project in the next ten years and beyond.
This project has been another endeavour by SADC-GMI, with funding from the Global Environmental Facility and the Cooperation in Internal Waters in Africa through the World Bank Group, to ensure that vulnerable communities have access to clean and safe drinking water.