IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Development of a hydrogeological conceptual model for shallow aquifers in the data scarce Upper Blue Nile Basin


  • Walker, D.
  • Parkin, G.
  • Gowing, J.
  • Haile, Alemseged Tamiru


Rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa commonly rely on shallow hand-dug wells and springs; consequently, shallow aquifers are an extremely important water source. Increased utilisation of shallow groundwater could help towards achieving multiple sustainable development goals (SDGs) by positively impacting poverty, hunger, and health. However, these shallow aquifers are little studied and poorly understood, partly due to a paucity of existing hydrogeological information in many regions of sub-Saharan Africa. This study develops a hydrogeological conceptual model for Dangila woreda (district) in Northwest Ethiopia, based on extensive field investigations and implementation of a citizen science programme. Geological and water point surveys revealed a thin (3–18 m) weathered volcanic regolith aquifer overlying very low permeability basalt. Hydrochemistry suggested that deep groundwater within fractured and scoriaceous zones of the basalt is not (or is poorly) connected to shallow groundwater. Isotope analysis and well monitoring indicated shallow groundwater flow paths that are not necessarily coincident with surface water flow paths. Characteristics of the prevalent seasonal floodplains are akin to “dambos†that are well-described in literature for Southern Africa. Pumping tests, recharge assessments, and hydrometeorological analysis indicated the regolith aquifer shows potential for increased utilisation. This research is transferrable to the shallow volcanic regolith aquifers that overlie a substantial proportion of Ethiopia and are prevalent throughout the East African Rift and in several areas elsewhere on the continent.

Suggested Citation

  • Walker, D. & Parkin, G. & Gowing, J. & Haile, Alemseged Tamiru, 2019. "Development of a hydrogeological conceptual model for shallow aquifers in the data scarce Upper Blue Nile Basin," Papers published in Journals (Open Access), International Water Management Institute, pages 6(2):1-24..
  • Handle: RePEc:iwt:jounls:h049389
    DOI: 10.3390/hydrology6020043

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Regassa E. Namara & Gebrehawaria Gebregziabher & Meredith Giordano & Charlotte De Fraiture, 2013. "Small pumps and poor farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa: an assessment of current extent of use and poverty outreach," Water International, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(6), pages 827-839, October.
    2. Oecd, 2009. "Climate Change and Africa," OECD Journal: General Papers, OECD Publishing, vol. 2009(1), pages 5-35.
    3. Karen G. Villholth, 2013. "Groundwater irrigation for smallholders in Sub-Saharan Africa - a synthesis of current knowledge to guide sustainable outcomes," Water International, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(4), pages 369-391, July.
    4. Paul Pavelic & Karen G. Villholth & Yunqiao Shu & Lisa-Maria Rebelo & Vladimir Smakhtin, 2013. "Smallholder groundwater irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa: country-level estimates of development potential," Water International, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(4), pages 392-407, July.
    5. Saa Dittoh & Joseph A. Awuni & Margaret A. Akuriba, 2013. "Small pumps and the poor: a field survey in the Upper East Region of Ghana," Water International, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(4), pages 449-464, July.
    6. Pavelic, Paul & Giordano, Mark & Keraita, Bernard & Ramesh, Vidya & Rao, T., 2012. "Groundwater availability and use in Sub-Saharan Africa: a review of 15 countries," IWMI Books, Reports H046186, International Water Management Institute.
    7. Paul Pavelic & Karen G. Villholth & Shilp Verma, 2013. "Identifying the barriers and pathways forward for expanding the use of groundwater for irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa," Water International, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(4), pages 363-368, July.
    8. Walker, D. & Parkin, G. & Schmitter, Petra & Gowing, J. & Tilahun, S. A. & Haile, Alemseged T. & Yimam, A. Y., 2019. "Insights from a multi-method recharge estimation comparison study," Papers published in Journals (Open Access), International Water Management Institute, pages 57(2):245-2.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Anik Juli Dwi Astuti & Sofie Annys & Mekete Dessie & Jan Nyssen & Stefaan Dondeyne, 2022. "To What Extent Is Hydrologic Connectivity Taken into Account in Catchment Studies in the Lake Tana Basin, Ethiopia? A Review," Land, MDPI, vol. 11(12), pages 1-18, November.
    2. Hassen Shube & Seifu Kebede & Tilahun Azagegn & Dessie Nedaw & Muhammed Haji & Shankar Karuppannan, 2023. "Estimating Groundwater Flow Velocity in Shallow Volcanic Aquifers of the Ethiopian Highlands Using a Geospatial Technique," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 15(19), pages 1-21, October.
    3. Fahad Khan Khadim & Zoi Dokou & Rehenuma Lazin & Amvrossios C. Bagtzoglou & Emmanouil Anagnostou, 2023. "Groundwater Modeling to Assess Climate Change Impacts and Sustainability in the Tana Basin, Upper Blue Nile, Ethiopia," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 15(7), pages 1-23, April.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Dessalegn, Mengistu & Merrey, D. J., 2014. "Is ‘Social Cooperation’ for traditional irrigation, while ‘Technology’ is for motor pump irrigation?," IWMI Reports 201004, International Water Management Institute.
    2. Aarnoudse, E. & Closas, Alvar & Lefore, Nicole, 2018. "Water user associations: a review of approaches and alternative management options for Sub-Saharan Africa," IWMI Working Papers H048782, International Water Management Institute.
    3. Cobbing, Jude & Hiller, Bradley, 2019. "Waking a sleeping giant: Realizing the potential of groundwater in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 597-613.
    4. Lucia de Strasser, 2017. "Calling for Nexus Thinking in Africa’s Energy Planning," ESP: Energy Scenarios and Policy 263161, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM).
    5. Alam, Mohammad Faiz & Pavelic, Paul, 2020. "Underground Transfer of Floods for Irrigation (UTFI): exploring potential at the global scale," IWMI Research Reports H050008, International Water Management Institute.
    6. Pavelic, Paul & Senaratna Sellamuttu, Sonali & Johnston, Robyn & McCartney, Matthew & Sotoukee, Touleelor & Balasubramanya, Soumya & Suhardiman, Diana & Lacombe, Guillaume & Douangsavanh, Somphasith &, 2015. "Integrated assessment of groundwater use for improving livelihoods in the dry zone of Myanmar," IWMI Research Reports 229608, International Water Management Institute.
    7. Maurice Osewe & Aijun Liu & Tim Njagi, 2020. "Farmer-Led Irrigation and Its Impacts on Smallholder Farmers’ Crop Income: Evidence from Southern Tanzania," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 17(5), pages 1-13, February.
    8. Franklin Obiri-Nyarko & Stephen Junior Asugre & Sandra Vincentia Asare & Anthony Appiah Duah & Anthony Yaw Karikari & Jolanta Kwiatkowska-Malina & Grzegorz Malina, 2022. "Hydrogeochemical Studies to Assess the Suitability of Groundwater for Drinking and Irrigation Purposes: The Upper East Region of Ghana Case Study," Agriculture, MDPI, vol. 12(12), pages 1-22, November.
    9. Giuseppe Maggio & Marina Mastrorillo & Nicholas J. Sitko, 2022. "Adapting to High Temperatures: Effect of Farm Practices and Their Adoption Duration on Total Value of Crop Production in Uganda," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 104(1), pages 385-403, January.
    10. Gupta, Rishabh & Mishra, Ashok, 2019. "Climate change induced impact and uncertainty of rice yield of agro-ecological zones of India," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 173(C), pages 1-11.
    11. Melissa Dell & Benjamin F. Jones & Benjamin A. Olken, 2014. "What Do We Learn from the Weather? The New Climate-Economy Literature," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 52(3), pages 740-798, September.
    12. Vermaak, Herman Jacobus & Kusakana, Kanzumba & Koko, Sandile Philip, 2014. "Status of micro-hydrokinetic river technology in rural applications: A review of literature," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 625-633.
    13. T. Fowe & I. Nouiri & B. Ibrahim & H. Karambiri & J. Paturel, 2015. "OPTIWAM: An Intelligent Tool for Optimizing Irrigation Water Management in Coupled Reservoir–Groundwater Systems," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 29(10), pages 3841-3861, August.
    14. Nelson Mango & Clifton Makate & Lulseged Tamene & Powell Mponela & Gift Ndengu, 2018. "Adoption of Small-Scale Irrigation Farming as a Climate-Smart Agriculture Practice and Its Influence on Household Income in the Chinyanja Triangle, Southern Africa," Land, MDPI, vol. 7(2), pages 1-19, April.
    15. Samuel Asante Gyamerah & Philip Ngare & Dennis Ikpe, 2018. "Regime-Switching Temperature Dynamics Model for Weather Derivatives," International Journal of Stochastic Analysis, Hindawi, vol. 2018, pages 1-15, July.
    16. Fernando M. Aragón & Francisco Oteiza & Juan Pablo Rud, 2018. "Climate change and agriculture: farmer adaptation to extreme heat," IFS Working Papers W18/06, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    17. Cook, Aaron M. & Ricker-Gilbert, Jacob E. & Sesmero, Juan P., 2013. "How do African households adapt to climate change? Evidence from Malawi," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 150507, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    18. Bossa, A.Y. & Diekkrüger, B. & Giertz, S. & Steup, G. & Sintondji, L.O. & Agbossou, E.K. & Hiepe, C., 2012. "Modeling the effects of crop patterns and management scenarios on N and P loads to surface water and groundwater in a semi-humid catchment (West Africa)," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 20-37.
    19. Jianhong Mu & Bruce McCarl & Anne Wein, 2013. "Adaptation to climate change: changes in farmland use and stocking rate in the U.S," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 18(6), pages 713-730, August.
    20. Merrey, D. J. & Lefore, Nicole, 2018. "Improving the availability and effectiveness of rural and “Micro” finance for small-scale irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa: a review of lessons learned," IWMI Working Papers H049027, International Water Management Institute.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iwt:jounls:h049389. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Chandima Gunadasa (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.