ISARM in Southern Africa

ISARM in Southern Africa

Southern Africa is one of the focal regions receiving support from ISARM. In Southern Africa, groundwater is likely to be the key resource to improve the water supply coverage of many areas. This is important for the industrial, agricultural and societal development of the region. Groundwater is also an important conditioning factor in regional environmental processes.

Groundwater conditions in the SADC region vary over short distances. Large aquifers are associated with sedimentary basins, while the occurrence of groundwater in crystalline Basement areas is fragmented. There are three main information sources on SADC transboundary aquifers regarding their names and approximate position: 

1. Report of the Tripoli 2002 conference

During the International Workshop in Libya, 18 transboundary aquifers were identified in the SADC region. These aquifers were shown as circles and ellipses on WHYMAP groundwater resources map of Africa. 

2. IGRAC map of Transboundary Aquifers of Southern Africa

In order to refine the original ISARM delineation, IGRAC used publicly available information and produced a provisional map of transboundary aquifers in the SADC region. Two additional aquifers were identified. The boundaries of individual aquifers are mainly based on surficial extent of geological formations (lithological transitions) and surface water divides. The map serves as a geographical interface for a web-based information system for SADC transboundary aquifers which is hosted by IGRAC 
(visit Global Overview)

In 2006 IGRAC conducted a survey, producing the report titled  'Groundwater Resources and TBAs in Southern Africa'. 

3. WHYMAP Transboundary Aquifer Systems map

Similar to the Tripoli map, circles or ellipses symbolize the location and approximate size of regionally important TBA systems. View WHYMAP here.

Further developments

In 2007, UNESCO-IHP, in close cooperation with national committees, the University of Western Cape and IGRAC, took initiative for establishing ISARM-SADC. Launching meeting of ISARM-SADC was held in Pretoria, South Africa in March 2007.  Representatives of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa took part in this meeting. The main aims of this meeting were:

  • to establish a TBA network for Southern Africa
  • to present an overview of main transboundary aquifers in participating countries
  • to make arrangements for information sharing

Based on the national presentations and related discussions, 18 transboundary aquifers were identified for six participating countries.

ISARM questionnaires and inventory forms were suggested for capturing necessary information for aquifer characterization. Based on the experience from ISARM-Americas, IGRAC presented some ideas for delivery of location maps. The group adopted the proposed method for map deliveries. It has also been agreed that all information will be held on the IGRAC website, protected by individual passwords of participating members.

As of July 2008, 19 ISARM questionnaires, 8 inventory forms and two sketch maps were delivered to IGRAC from six countries through the UNESCO-IHP regional office in Windhoek, Namibia. IGRAC is preparing a report on inventory of transboundary aquifers and information flow in ISARM-SADC 
(read the draft report) .