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The Aghien Lagoon in Ivory Coast. © INRA, JF Humbert

A new international project to monitor and protect surface drinking water sources in Africa

The WaSAF (Protecting surface water sources in Africa) programme was launched on 8 February 2016 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.This joint international programme, which is led by INRA and brings together several French and African institutes and universities, aims to implement monitoring, management and sustainable protection of surface drinking water sources in Africa.

Updated on 01/08/2018
Published on 02/09/2016

The Aghien Lagoon in Ivory Coast. © INRA, JF Humbert
The Aghien Lagoon in Ivory Coast © INRA, JF Humbert
The growing challenges associated with surface fresh water sources coupled with their rising scarcity and degradation of water quality creates tensions that endanger their future use. In Africa, the trophic state – i.e., the quantity of nutrients in water – and safety of these resources is not well known and no long-term monitoring programmes exist. Moreover, actions undertaken to protect or restore water sources are often limited despite an urgent need for them due to ecosystem degradation taking place.

WaSAf: protecting continental surface aquatic systems used to produce drinking water in Africa

The WaSAf project (Protecting surface water sources in Africa) is coordinated by INRA and aims to:

  • Put a system into place to assess and monitor the current and future water quality of three African lakes used to supply three major African capitals
  • In conjunction with local water resource managers and policymakers, plan out initial measures to be able to sustainably manage these ecosystems and ensure their conservation and/or restoration.

The three study sites are the Lake Guiers (Senegal), which supplies a major part of the population in Dakar; the Lake Victoria North Catchment, which supplies the city of Kampala (Uganda); and the Aghien Lagoon, which in the near future will be an additional source of drinking water for the city of Abidjan (Ivory Coast).

The programme details

Proliferation of cyanobacteria in Lake Victoria in Kenya. © INRA, JF Humbert
Proliferation of cyanobacteria in Lake Victoria in Kenya © INRA, JF Humbert
The WaSAf project mobilises French and African research teams who work in the environmental and social sciences and seeks to:

  • Build a dashboard for each ecosystem that indexes the selected indicators and targets at various points in time;
  • Prioritise pressures on aquatic ecosystems and their catchment areas as well as their links to users and the activities in these regions;
  • Implement long-term monitoring of water quality and create decision trees to give direction to stakeholders;
  • Create observatories for the aquatic systems used to produce drinking water with a view to managing data and providing scientific support to policymakers and water resource managers in their actions;
  • Implement the first conservation measures for the aquatic ecosystems;
  • Carry out a SWOT analysis of how the water network is governed across the three African countries to suggest alternative governance models, with involvement from stakeholders at all levels of the water network, from the natural resources to the distributed water.

The WaSAf project is based on close cooperation and the sharing of experience between all African and French partners, whether academic or institutional. The objective is to strengthen the approaches that are already in place in each country and incorporate their specific needs. Eventually, the approaches and actions undertaken during WaSAf may be applied to other water sources across the Intertropical Convergence Zone.

For more information about the WaSAf project: http://humbert19.wix.com/wasaf 

Scientific contact(s):

  • Jean-François Humbert Institut d’écologie et des sciences de l’environnement de Paris, or iEES Paris (UPMC, CNRS, INRA, IRD, Universités Paris Diderot and Paris Est Créteil Val-de-Marne)
Press Relations:
INRA News Office (33 (0)1 42 75 91 86)
Associated Division(s):
Forest, Grassland and Freshwater Ecology
Associated Centre(s):

11 partners

In France:
- Institut d’écologie et des sciences de l’environnement de Paris, or iEES Paris (UPMC, CNRS, INRA, IRD, Universités Paris Diderot and Paris Est Creteil Val-de-Marne), Paris
- Centre alpin de recherche sur les réseaux trophiques des écosystèmes lacustres (INRA, Université de Savoie), Thonon-les-Bains
- Unité Biodiversité marine, exploitation et conservation (IRD, Ifremer, Université de Montpellier, CNRS), Montpellier
- Unité Molécules de communication et adaptation des microorganismes (CNRS, MNHN), Paris

In Ivory Coast:
- Institut Pasteur, Abidjan
- Université Jean Lorougnon Guede, Daloa
- Institut d’Ethnosociologie, Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Abidjan

In Uganda:
- Makerere University, Kampala
- INational Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI), Jinja

In Senegal:
- Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar

This project has received €1 million in financing from the Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial for a four-year period (2015-2019) and additional funding of €4 million from the Agence Française de Développement.