Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs) and Biodiversity in the Khakea/Bray Transboundary Aquifer
Overview

Groundwater plays an important role in sustaining below-ground and above-ground aquatic ecosystems.

However, there is limited data that demonstrate the relationship between groundwater and Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs) to inform the sustainable management of the GDEs. In southern Africa, little research has been undertaken to delineate GDEs, assess their interactions with groundwater, or understand the impacts of anthropogenic changes to the groundwater systems. There is also a lack of biodiversity data specific to GDEs, as well as a lack of joint management of the transboundary aquifers in southern Africa.

Grant Amount:
$308,100
Contact:
Mr. James Sauramba
Funding Dates:
8/1/2020 – 7/31/2023

Funded by:

Read more about the project on the JRS Biodiversity Foundation website.

Background

Groundwater plays an important role in sustaining below-ground and above-ground aquatic ecosystems. However, there is limited data that demonstrate the relationship between groundwater and Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs) to inform the sustainable management of the GDEs. In southern Africa, little research has been undertaken to delineate GDEs, assess their interactions with groundwater, or understand the impacts of anthropogenic changes to the groundwater systems. There is also a lack of biodiversity data specific to GDEs, as well as a lack of joint management of the transboundary aquifers in southern Africa.

The Khakea/Bray Transboundary Aquifer (TBA) between Botswana and South Africa is experiencing rapid increase in water abstraction for agriculture and domestic use, which threatens the sustainability of its GDEs. This project will integrate GIS and remote sensing, hydrogeology, and ecology to generate data on the biodiversity of the Khakea/Bray TBA and develop a database linking groundwater information to ecological health. The Southern African Development Community – Groundwater Management Institute SADC-GMI) and their partners at the Aquatic Systems Research Group (ASRG) at University of Venda  and the Institute for Groundwater Studies at the University of the Free State aim to define the relationships between groundwater quality, groundwater levels, and biodiversity in this TBA and ultimately encourage joint management of this and other transboundary ecosystems in the SADC region.

Key Objectives and Activities

The inception phase of this three-year project includes a literature review by key experts to guide post graduate work and the data collection process. Extensive fieldwork across seven research activities will be conducted to collect the data needed to develop a GDE atlas, spatial biodiversity database, and create inputs for a Decision Support System (DSS) for the Khakea/Bray TBA. The Khakea/Bray TBA and its GDEs will be delineated using GIS and remote sensing and investigations will be conducted on each identified GDE. Data will be collected on hydrogeology and ground water and surface water biodiversity, and an ecological assessment of each GDE will be performed. Data will be used to better understand the relationship between groundwater and surface water ecosystems and identify hotspots where management interventions should be focused.

This project will also increase long-term capacity through two stakeholder engagement workshops and training of 3 PhD students and 4 MSc students. Because GDEs are central in maintaining ecosystems, as well as supporting human livelihoods in a region where the majority of the rural population rely on groundwater as their sole source of water for domestic use, a Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) consultant will be deployed throughout the project to consider the socio-economic aspects of training, data access, data collection, and use.

Planned Outputs
  1. An inception report that outlines strategies and a work plan and a stakeholder engagement report.
  2. Literature reviews in hydrogeology, biodiversity, and mapping.
  3. Maps of the TBA and the GDEs.
  4. A hydrogeological model of the TBA.
  5. A comprehensive species list for all GDEs in the aquifer.
  6. A biodiversity database available on the SADC Groundwater Information Portal.
  7. Final reports for hydrogeology, biodiversity, and mapping.
  8. Management plans for the identified hotspot GDEs.
  9. Seven post graduate theses submissions.
Planned Outcomes

This project will generate and mobilize valuable data for the sustainable management of GDEs in the Khakea/Bray TBA and help define the role of groundwater in sustaining below and above ground aquatic ecosystems. There are approximately 30 TBAs in the SADC region, and this project will serve as a pilot from which approaches and best practices can be upscaled to a regional level. Capacity development through graduate student training will also help fill the gap in limnological and hydrogeological expertise and careers in Africa.

Project Director Biography

Mr. James Sauramba is the Executive Director of the SADC-GMI, the project implementation unit of the World Bank funded project, Sustainable Groundwater Management in the SADC Member States. He holds a degree in Civil Engineering and a master’s degree in Business Administration. Sauramba has hands-on experience with diversity and project management in the public and private sector and has worked in Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa, and Zimbabwe for 27 out of his 29 years of experience, which includes more than 20 years in the water sector. He has also served with several International Cooperating Partners (ICPs) in the SADC region, including a role as an institutional analysis and capacity development specialist with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

Click here for more information about Mr. James Sauramba

Please contact us at info@sadc-gmi.org if you have any questions regarding this project.

This project will integrate GIS and remote sensing, hydrogeology, and ecology to generate data on the
biodiversity of the Khakea/Bray TBA and develop a database linking groundwater information to ecological health.