IGRAC has opened five internship positions covering three interesting groundwater-related topics. Three of those positions are related to transboundary aquifers, one is about mapping urban groundwater supply in Western Sahel (for which French language skills are a prerequisite!) and the fifth one is related to several IGRAC activities related to groundwater quality.
Descriptions and application information are listed below.
Application deadline for all internships: 1 August 2022
Internship topics 2022
Topic 1: Priority mapping of transboundary aquifers for future assessment
Background: The 2021 global transboundary aquifer inventory shows that 468 shared aquifers have been identified over the last two decades. However, it is assumed that many more exist. In addition, the delineations of many identified transboundary aquifers are unconfirmed and are represented on the map as circles or ovals, providing only a rough approximation of their presence and extent. A lot of work is therefore needed to improve the global assessment of transboundary aquifers. However, it is unclear where we should prioritize efforts.
Objective: The objective of this research will therefore be to conduct a priority mapping exercise of transboundary aquifers globally for further assessment and delineation.
Methodology: The intern will be expected to develop a methodology to prioritize transboundary aquifer assessment and delineation based on pre-selected criteria to be agreed upon with IGRAC. The intern may choose to prioritize based on, for example, high levels of water stress, potential areas of future water conflict, zones of high groundwater dependency.
Prerequisite: The intern will need expertise in QGIS or ArcGIS, experience handling large datasets and knowledge of hydrogeology. Experience of groundwater assessment would be beneficial.
Duration: Time requirements: 1-3 months, full time
Topic 2: A global overview of cross-border impacts arising from the abstraction and contamination of transboundary aquifers
Background: Unsustainable groundwater pumping within a transboundary aquifer can cause water levels to drop in neighbouring states and even inverse the natural upstream/downstream water flow regimes between two or more countries. Similarly, contaminated groundwater in one riparian state has the potential to flow across borders into neighbouring countries. Exploitation of transboundary aquifers can also have consequences for hydraulically linked surface waters and groundwater dependant ecosystems. However, in reality, there are very few known documented cases of cross-border groundwater impacts associated with transboundary aquifer use or contamination.
Objective: The objective of this research will be to conduct a global analysis to examine the evidence of transboundary impacts from groundwater abstraction and anthropogenic contamination.
Methodology: The intern will be expected to conduct a baseline literature review of documented cases of the depletion and contamination of transboundary aquifers. They will then analyse the case studies for cross-border impacts on groundwater, linked surface waters and ecosystems.
Prerequisite: The intern will need expertise in hydrogeology and have experience of carrying out literature reviews. A good understanding of upstream-downstream water interactions would also be beneficial.
Duration: Time requirements: 1-3 months, full time
Topic 3: The development of regional transboundary aquifer maps
Background: In 2021, IGRAC published a major update in the Global Transboundary Aquifer Inventory, the first since 2015. The new Transboundary Aquifers of the World 2021 map shows 468 transboundary aquifers shared between 148 countries across almost every continent. This product is widely used in scientific literature. However, there is often a need for maps that represent a single region at a larger scale.
Objective: The objective of this research will be create a series of downloadable maps showcasing transboundary aquifers regionally instead of globally.
Methodology: The intern will be expected to create regional maps using QGIS showcasing transboundary aquifers spatially across the Americas, Oceania and Asia, Europe and Africa. If additional time allowed, they may also choose to create other maps related to transboundary aquifers, such as population density or water stress within TBAs.
Prerequisite: The intern will need expertise in QGIS (in particular making maps) and experience handling large datasets is desirable.
Duration: Time requirements: 1 month, full time
Topic 4: Mapping urban groundwater supply in western Sahel
Background: In 2021, IGRAC published a poster and a report on groundwater challenges associated to public water supply in large cities in West Africa. As part of the study, the status of groundwater use and management was assessed for the largest cities in the 15 member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The study showed that “groundwater is a major water resource for several large West African cities. It supports public water supply networks and is also exploited by households or organizations through private hand-dug wells or private boreholes. It can also be distributed by private sellers. All groundwater users are under threat of groundwater over-abstraction and contamination, although at different levels. This study shows that groundwater issues stem from the rapid growth of cities, whereby urban encroachment outpaces the development of water supply and sanitation infrastructure. The relationships of urban dwellers to groundwater resources reflects such urban dynamics” (IGRAC 2021). This study also called for “further research in this field. In particular, it would be valuable to extend this assessment to the other cities, to draw out regional statistics on urban groundwater use in West Africa. There is also a need to investigate how far groundwater resources can support the increase of water demand over the next decades” (IGRAC 2021).
Objectives: The purpose of this follow-up study is to assess the dependency of all cities on groundwater, not only the largest cities. It could be divided in two (possible three) sub-objectives :
- Map the dependency of public groundwater supply on groundwater resources in western Sahelian cities
- Identify spatial and temporal patterns (e.g. in relation with the size of the cities, the hydrogeological context)
- If time allows, report on issues with urban groundwater supply (availability and quality) and provide policy recommendations.
Preliminary research suggests that while the largest cities rely on surface water, either exclusively (e.g. Bamako, Ouagadougou, Niamey) or partly (e.g. Dakar, Nouakchott), the majority of smaller cities rely on groundwater. Due to urban growth, the number of centres operated by public water companies is increasing. The new centres are supplied by boreholes. A systematic assessment as proposed in this study would provide reliable figures and statistics on urban groundwater supply and support the understanding of urban growth and water supply dynamics in the region.
Methodology: Due to the large number of cities, the study would be restricted to western Sahel : Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. It consists in reviewing the available literature, in particular the reports of the water companies, in order to identify which cities rely on groundwater and to what extent. The water companies are reported in the table below.
- Burkina Faso: Office National de l'Eau et de l'Assainissement (ONEA)
- Chad: Société Tchadienne des Eaux (STE)
- Mali: Société Malienne de Gestion de l’Eau Potable (SOMAGEP)
- Mauritania: Societe Nationale d’Eau (SNDE)
- Niger: Société d'Exploitation des Eaux du Niger (SEEN)
- Senegal: Sen’EAU
Although private wells often contribute to a significant extent to domestic water use, the present study will only address public water supply, because there are few reliable data on private water supply and it would considerably increase the size of the assignment. The database and research material on urban areas in Africa from Africapolis can be used: https://africapolis.org/en.
Prerequisite: A good command of French is necessary!
Duration: The assignment could be completed in 2 months (1 week per country, 2 weeks for reporting).
Topic 5: Supporting IGRAC efforts regarding global groundwater quality monitoring and assessment
Background: Human activities and climate variability are increasing the pressure on groundwater resources, but groundwater is an invisible resource that remains out of sight and out of mind for most people. Protection of our groundwater resources is necessary for protecting human health, maintaining food supplies and conserving ecosystems. Also, some regions and countries rely on naturally clean groundwater as advanced water treatment is economically infeasible. Knowing where to source clean groundwater, as well as understanding threats to this resource, is therefore important. For these reasons, IGRAC is involved in several initiatives dedicated to improve our understanding of different aspects of groundwater quality on a global scale.
Objective: The objective of this internship will be to support one or more of IGRAC’s ongoing activities related to global groundwater quality monitoring and assessment, namely:
- Improvement of the global groundwater quality website
- Development of guidelines for regional groundwater quality assessments
- Overview of national groundwater quality monitoring networks in Latin America
- Support activities of the International Association of Hydrogeologist (IAH) Commission on Groundwater Quality
Prerequisite: Knowledge of hydrogeochemistry and spatial analysis, and experience in conducting literature reviews is beneficial, but not mandatory.
Duration: Time requirements: 1 month, full time.