Assessment of groundwater management for domestic use from IWRM perspective in upper Limphasa river catchment, Malawi
Kanyerere, Thokozani Olex Butawo
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The research problem for this study is the limited and unsuccessful implementation of the IWRM concept. This thesis has argued that comprehensive assessment of physical and socioeconomic conditions is essential to provide explanation on factors that limit the successful execution of the IWRM approach. It has further argued that the local IWRM works as proxy for full and successful implementation of the IWRM approach.To contextualise this thesis, the prevailing physical and socioeconomic factors in Malawi in relation to current management and usage of water resources were explained.With 1,321m3 per capita per year against index thresholds of 1,700-1,000m3 per capita per year, this study showed that Malawi is a physically water stressed country but not physically water scarce country although economically it is a water scarce country. This novelty is against some literature that present Malawi as a water abundant country.Again, this study showed that executing a full and successful IWRM in Malawi remains a challenge because of the prevailing socioeconomic situation in terms of water policies,water laws, institutions and management instruments. These aspects have not been reformed and harmonised to facilitate a successful operation of the IWRM approach.The main water-related problem in Malawi is the mismanagement of the available water resources. This is largely due to the lack of implementing management approaches which can generate systematic data for practical assessment of water resources to guide the coordinated procedure among water stakeholders working in catchments. This lack of implementing a coordinated management approach commonly known as integrated water resources management (IWRM) can be attributed to various reasons that includei) lack of comprehensive assessment of factors that can explain lack of successful IWRM implementation at catchment level and ii) lack of methods to demonstrate data generation and analysis on quantity, quality and governance of water that show practical operation of IWRM at community level using groundwater as a showcase among others.This study revealed that introducing local IWRM requires a prior knowledge of the evolution and role of the full IWRM concept in the international water policy which aimed at addressing broader developmental objectives. Globally, the current status of the IWRM concept has potential to address such broader developmental objectives, but sustaining IWRM projects where they have been piloted showed slow progress. Basing on the factors that slow such a progress, local IWRM approach has emerged as a proxy to execute the full IWRM as demonstrated in chapter 8 in this thesis. However, the observed lack of sustainable resources to fund continual functioning of local IWRM activities will defeat its potential solution to water management challenges. The main threat for sustainable local IWRM activities is the tendency of national governments to decentralise roles and responsibilities to local governments and communities without the accompanying financial resources to enable the implementation of the local participation, investments and initiatives at local level. If this tendency could be reversed, the contribution by local IWRM towards solving management problems in the water sector will be enormous. Chapter four has provided the general case-study approach used in this study in terms of research design, data collection methods, data analysis methods, ethical consideration and limitation of the current study within the context of water resource management with a focus on groundwater management.Using geologic map, satellite images, photographs and hydrogeologic conceptual model, the following results emerged: 1) that the Upper Limphasa River catchment has fractured rock aquifer with limited permeability and storage capacity; 2) The topographic nature and north-south strikes of the lineaments explained the north-south flow direction of groundwater in the catchment; 3) The drainage system observed in the Kandoli and Kaning’ina Mountains to the east and west of the Upper Limphasa River catchment respectively (Fig. 5.1; Fig.5.2) formed a groundwater recharge boundary; 4)The regional faults in the same mountains (Fig. 5.1; Fig.5.2) formed structural boundar as well as hydrogeologic boundary which controlled flow direction of the groundwater;5) the hydrogeologic conceptual model showed the existence of the forested weathered bedrock in the upland areas of the entire catchment which formed no-flow boundary and groundwater divide thereby controlling the water flow direction downwards (Fig. 5.9);6) The major agricultural commercial activities existed in Lower Limphasa catchment while only subsistence farming existed in Upper Limphasa catchment. This knowledge and visualization from the map (Fig. 5.3) and conceptual model (Fig.5.9) showed interactions between upland and lowland areas and the role of physical factors in controlling groundwater flow direction in the catchment. It also provided the enlightenment on implications of socioeconomic farming activities on water management. These insights enabled this study to recommend the need for expedited implementation of holistic effective management for sustainable water utilization.Using different physical factors, water scarcity indices and methodologies, this study showed that Malawi is a physically water stressed as well as an economic water scarce country. This novelty is against some literature that present Malawi as a water abundant country. Again, despite the high proportion (85%) of Malawians relying on groundwater resource, groundwater availability (storage in km3) is relatively low (269 km3 in Table 6.10) compared to other countries within SADC and Africa. Given the complexity of groundwater abstraction, the available groundwater for use is further reduced for Malawians who depend on such a resource for their domestic and productive livelihoods. Such insights provided the basis for discussing the need for IWRM.Although daily statistics on groundwater demand (i: 21.20 litres; 116.91 litres;80,550.99 litres), use (ii: 16.8 litres; 92.55 litres; 63,766.95 litres) and abstracted but not used (iii: 4.4; 24.36; 16,784.04 litres) were relatively low per person, per household and per sub-catchment respectively, such statistics when calculated on monthly basis (i.Demand: 636 litres; 3,507.30 litres; 2,416,529.70 litres; ii.Use:504 litres; 2,776.5 litres;1, 913, 008.5 litres iii. Abstracted but not used: 132 litres; 730 litres; 503, 521.2); and on yearly basis (i. Demand: 7,632 litres; 42,087.6 litres; 28,998,356.4 litres; ii. Use: 6,048 litres; 33,318 litres; 22, 956, 102 litres; iii: Abstracted but not used: 1,584 litres; 8,769.6 litres; 6,042,254.4 litres) per person, per household and per sub-catchment provided huge amount of groundwater (Table 6.5). Given the limited storage capacity of fractured rock aquifer in the basement complex geology, the monthly and yearly groundwater demand and use on one hand and abstracted but not used on the other was considered enormous. With the population growth rate of 2.8 for Nkhata Bay (NSO, 2009) and the observed desire to intensify productive livelihoods activities coupled with expected negative effects of climate change, the need to implement IWRM approach for such groundwater resource in the study catchment remains imperative and is urgently needed.In addition to identifying and describing factors that explain the limited groundwater availability in the study catchment, the study developed a methodology for calculating groundwater demand, use and unused at both households and sub-catchment levels.This methodology provided step-by-step procedure for collecting data on groundwater demand and use as a tool that would improve availability of data on groundwater.Implications of such results for IWRM in similar environments were discussed. Despite the time-consuming procedure involved in using the developed methodology, the calculations are simple and interpretation of results is easily understood among various stakeholders. Hence, such an approach is recommended for the IWRM approach which requires stakeholders from various disciplines to interact and collaborate. Nonetheless, this recommends the use of this method as its further refinement is being sought. The analysis on groundwater quality has shown that the dominant water type in the aquifers of Upper Limphasa catchment was Ca-HCO3, suggesting that the study area had shallow, fresh groundwater with recent recharged aquifer. Analyses on physicochemical parameters revealed that none of the sampled boreholes (BHs) and protected shallow dug wells (PSWs) had physical or chemical concentration levels of health concern when such levels were compared with 2008-World Health Organisation(WHO) guidelines and 2005-Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS). Conversely, although the compliance with 2008-WHO and 2005-MBS of pathogenic bacteria (E.coli) in BHs water was 100% suggesting that water from BHs had low risk and free from bacteriological contamination, water from PSWs showed 0% compliance with 2008-WHO and 2005-MBS values implying high risk to human health. The overall assessment on risk to health classification showed that PSWs were risky sources to supply potable water, hence the need to implement strategies that protect groundwater.On the basis of such findings, the analysis in this study demonstrated the feasibility of using IWRM approach as a platform for implementing environmental and engineering interventions through education programmes to create and raise public awareness on groundwater protection and on the need for collaborative efforts to implement protective measures for their drinking water sources. The use of different analytical methods which were applied to identify the exact sources of the observed contaminants in the PSWs proved futile. Therefore, this study concluded that rolling-out PSWs either as improved or safe sources of drinking water requires further detailed investigations.However, this research recommended using rapid assessment of drinking water-quality (RADWQ) methods for assessing the quality of groundwater sources for drinking. Despite the study area being in the humid climatic region with annual rainfall above 1,000 mm, many of the physical factors were not favourable for availability of more groundwater in the aquifers. Such observation provided compelling evidence in this study to commend the local IWRM as a proxy for the full IWRM implementation for sustainable utilization of such waters. Although institutional arrangements, water laws and water policy were found problematic to facilitate a successful implementation of full IWRM at national level in Malawi, this thesis demonstrated that local institutional arrangements, coordination among institutions, data collection efforts by local community members (active participation), self-regulation among local community committees were favourable conditions for a successful local IWRM in the Upper Limphasa River catchment. This research recommends continuation of such local participation, investment and initiatives as proxy for the full and successful IWRM beyond the study catchment. However, the observed lack of financial resource from central government to facilitates local IWRM activities were seen as counterproductive.In addition, this thesis recommended further studies which should aim at improving some observed negative implications of self-regulations on community members and the limited decentralisation elements from the Department of Water Development.Finally, one of the contributions from this study is the scientific value in using different methods to assess the quality of groundwater as presented in chapter 7. The second value is the demonstration of applying practical techniques to evaluate factors that explain the amount of groundwater storage in the aquifers that can be understood by water scientists, water users, water developers and water managers to implement IWRM collaboratively using groundwater as a showcase. The third contribution is the provision of the procedure to systematically generate data on demand (abstraction) and use of groundwater in unmetered rural areas which has the potential to guide water allocation process in the catchment. Fourthly, the thesis has provided a hydrogeologic conceptual model for the first time for Limphasa River catchment to be used as a visual tool for planning and developing management practices and addressing current water problems.Fifthly, the study has shown how local IWRM works at community level as a proxy for the full implementation of IWRM despite the absence of Catchment Management Agencies. The last contribution is the dissemination of results from this study made through publications and conference presentations as outlined in the appendix.