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Seifu Kebede Gurmessa

Vice President - Sub Saharan Africa


Seifu Kebede Gurmessa has a BSc in Geology (1994) and MSc in Hydrogeology (1999) both from Addis Ababa University, and a PhD from the University of Avignon, France (2005) in Isotope (tracer) hydrogeology. He was a research assistant and junior lecturer at the School of Earth Sciences, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia (1994-199) and a Junior Professional Officer at the International Atomic Energy Agency (2005-2006). He became Assistant Professor of Hydrogeology at Addis Ababa University (2007) and Associate Professor of Hydrogeology (2013). He joined the School of Agricultural Earth and Environmental Sciences and Centre of Water Resources Research, University of KwaZulu Natal in September 2019.

His main interests are tracer hydrology and geochemistry for water resources management, surface water – groundwater interaction and water quality. His multifaceted research includes rural water supply, groundwater irrigation, and human health. He is author of more than 50 peer reviewed articles and a Springer Nature book on groundwater in Ethiopia.

Personal statement

As Regional Vice President of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), I will promote IAH as an international knowledge-base contributing to sustainable management and development. I will work closely with regional bodies such as AMCOW and its groundwater program, APaGROP, for better use and assimilation of hydrogeology knowledge in SSA groundwater policy-making. I am cognizant of the unique position of SSA’s groundwater development potential and the pressure on the resources: SSA is at the juncture of a very important time for use of groundwater for socio-economic transformation. With large differences in the state of groundwater development, management and stresses on the resources globally, SSA needs a voice and agenda for groundwater.

By working closely with the national chapters (in both Francophone and Anglophone countries) and stakeholders, I will contribute to the SSA specific global policy-making for groundwater. I will use SSA or global scale platforms (e.g. SSA Water Week, the groundwater-focused 2022 World Water Week) to showcase groundwater in SSA. I will continue my predecessor’s efforts in bringing the groundwater agenda to regional economic commissions and river basin organizations.

Working closely with IAH Council and national chapters, I will seek to ensure the most updated hydrogeology/groundwater knowledge reaches all parts of SSA. I will work towards effectively utilizing e-platforms (e.g. webinars) and social media to disseminate hydrogeology knowledge and capacity building. I will urge Council to earmark funds for at least two training courses annually for SSA hydrogeologists and to prioritize sponsorship of African hydrogeologists to attend conferences. I will lobby development partners and collaborators to support capacity-building for African hydrogeologists. I will make an inventory of national IAH chapters needing support.