The IAEA continues its efforts to address challenges in Africa using nuclear technology. Through its technical cooperation (TC) programme, the IAEA is currently implementing a large scale TC project on water resources assessment and management in the Sahel region. The TC project aims to support the rational and sustainable management of shared groundwater resources in the region with the application of isotope techniques, which will contribute to regional and local socioeconomic development.
The four-year project focuses on incorporating isotope techniques in the hydrological studies including detailed research in the Sahel region, covering five targeted aquifers: the Iullemeden Aquifer System, the Liptako-Gourma-Upper Volta System, the Senegalo-Mauritanian Basin, the Chad Basin, and the Taoudeni Basin. The five targeted trans-boundary systems are shared by thirteen African Member States: Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo, and two non-IAEA Member States, Guinea-Bissau and The Gambia.
Project activities centre around four main areas:
• Capacity Building: The project is building human resources in the participating countries of the Sahel region to support the use of isotope techniques in the assessment and management of groundwater resources. The project is supporting the provision of necessary equipment and other materials as well as expert assistance for project design, field campaigns, laboratory analysis and data interpretation, which will enable Member States to independently take charge of their national activities.
• Shared Aquifer/Basin Diagnostic Analysis: The Sahel project will conduct a shared aquifer/basin diagnostic analysis (SADA) to identify and understand the priority issues and threats, and their root causes, to the five trans-boundary systems in the Sahel region. National teams of stakeholders will prepare a shared aquifer/basin diagnostic analysis report at the national level for each trans-boundary system. The findings will be integrated at the regional level to provide a complete report for each system, which may lead to the development of a Strategic Action Programme (SAP).
• Data Gaps and Methodology: The project will address key gaps in the methodology, data and capacity that are needed to support strategic planning decisions, using appropriate technical approaches and focusing on isotopic techniques and applications under the supervision of the IAEA. Additionally, the project will identify and collect the missing data required to gain a better overview and understanding of the selected systems. This implies data collection and compilation, collection of additional isotope data, and the introduction of isotope hydrology techniques in the monitoring programme at a regional level.
• Public Awareness Raising: The Sahel project will raise awareness through its outreach programme and in collaboration with partners in informing the stakeholders and public about the sustainable use of water resources and the role that isotope technology plays in supporting conventional methods used in the management of water resources.
With the decline of fresh water resources in the Sahel region, a project of this magnitude is an essential action step to address issues, such as the management of trans-boundary water resources as well as potable water supply for communities.
Read more about TC activities in the Sahel:
Isotopic techniques help to improve the management of water resources in Sahel Africa
Consultation process under way to enhance collaborative efforts in improving water resource management in the Sahel
Nuclear Techniques Help Farmers Survive Drought in Niger
Supporting an integrated approach to water management in the Sahel