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Groundwater access in urban Africa

Exploring how access to groundwater is shaping the resilience of urban areas across Africa, offering insights for both water security and for the resilience of people and places.

Securing access to clean water for all is both a fundamental human right and a cornerstone of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Despite strong progress, the rapid growth of African cities in recent years has stretched the ability of the public sector to meet rising demands for domestic water supplies.

@Devin Sapsford

Changing climatic conditions, particularly rising incidence of drought, are accentuating the challenge for many cities.

The available water supplies are sometimes insufficient to meet demand, resulting in many cities being described as in a situation of water crisis.

Where provision by public authorities is inadequate, and conditions allow, many households are commissioning their own boreholes to secure their water supplies from groundwater. The implications of this rapidly rising trend remains poorly understood.

Through a series of activities, we are working with collaborators to build a stronger understanding of the forces driving the proliferation of boreholes and of the potential implications for the resilience of the urban areas, resident households and the wider ecosystem.

Current initiatives

Find out more about our ongoing projects and activities in urban Africa.

Groundwater futures

Understanding the potential of groundwater for a sustainable urban future in Africa.


Groundwater and resilience in Southern Africa

Understanding the role of groundwater in supporting the resilience of communities and the socio-economic spillovers associated with its development in the short and longer-term.


Resilience In Groundwater Supply Systems: integrating resource-based approaches with agency, behaviour and choice in West Africa (RIGSS)

Developing and testing an innovative framework for understanding the interplay between environmental resources, social systems and behavioural choices affecting the resilience of groundwater supplies.