Poverty reduction and economic growth drive the development of groundwater resources across Africa. Due to the ephemeral nature of surface water, groundwater abstraction is often the only realistic and affordable means of providing reliable water supply for much of Africas needs. However, the large variability in geological and hydrological conditions have a profound influence on the availability of groundwater across the continent, and the sustainable development of the resource depends on an accurate understanding of the hydrogeology and the availability of skilled people to make informed decisions. Despite the obvious need for data, little attention has been paid to the systematic gathering of information about groundwater resources, with the result that data are patchy, knowledge is limited and investment is often poorly targeted. Given the scale of groundwater development in Africa, there is now a pressing need to take groundwater resources seriously and provide a framework and funds for applied groundwater research across Africa to underpin current and future development and management of this precious resource. This framework must recognise the issues of particular concern to Africa, such as: the requirement to develop sustainable and cost effective community water supplies across all hydrogeological environments (even challenging ones); appropriately managing and protecting groundwater resources given the rate of rapid poorly planned urbanisation and the expansion in on-site sanitation and; the imperatives of water security, from household to national levels, with unpredictability of future climate, groundwater recharge and water demand.
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