Kick-off mission as first step towards strengthening groundwater monitoring in Rwanda

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IGRAC and UNICEF are working together to support Rwanda Water Resources Board in strengthening groundwater monitoring in Rwanda to ensure their sustainability and resilience in the face of changing climatic conditions. As a first step in this process, Claudia Ruz Vargas and Feifei Cao visited the ‘land of a thousand hills’ for a kick-off mission from 28 January to 3 February. The main purpose of this mission was to establish robust connections with all stakeholders involved, as well as to collect borehole and groundwater monitoring data, and information on the current groundwater monitoring systems in the country.

Inception workshop with local stakeholders

The mission started with a one-day inception workshop, hosted by the Rwanda Water Resources Board (RWB). This workshop brought together various stakeholders involved in groundwater exploitation and monitoring, such as private sector actors and non-governmental organisations. During the workshop, IGRAC introduced the project and Gilbert Niyidufasha from the RWB presented on the current status of groundwater resources and monitoring in Rwanda. This was followed by discussions, setting expectations and assessing data availability among local stakeholders.

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Claudia Ruz Vargas during the workshop at RWB [credit: Feifei Cao]
Claudia Ruz Vargas during the workshop at RWB [credit: Feifei Cao]

This inception workshop proved to be fruitful in the sense that connections were built with various local stakeholders, who will further contribute to provide data and information on groundwater across the country. Moreover, clear expectations were set for the project, thereby streamlining, and facilitating the way forward. This laid the groundwork for not only a successful mission, but also for the forthcoming months of project activities.

Taking stock of existing monitoring stations

Subsequently, a two-day field trip was organised to visit different types of groundwater monitoring stations in the country. In addition, available data and information on groundwater were collected, both digital and hard copies.

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Inspection of monitoring stations [credit: Feifei Cao]
Inspection of monitoring stations [credit: Feifei Cao]

This field trip provided better understanding of the strengths, weaknesses and challenges of the current groundwater monitoring systems in Rwanda, which is of crucial importance for providing meaningful recommendations and interventions moving forward. To get most out of this field mission in particular, and the project in general, the IGRAC team works in close collaboration with local consultant Judith Uwihirwe.

The way forward

After this successful start of the project, IGRAC will now analyse the data and information collected, both during the field visits and provided by the Rwanda Water Resources Board. Meanwhile, the preparation for the next step in the process are already well under way. To further support the work of the RWB, a groundwater modelling training will be organised. During this training, Feifei Cao will teach the participants the basics of MODFLOW.