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Ineson Lecture, 25 October 2017: Africa, Groundwater and the Sustainable Development Goals

Dr Callist Tindimugaya, Commissioner for Water Resources Planning and Regulation in the Ministry of Water and Environment, Uganda, and IAH Vice President for Sub-Sahara Region, gave IAH’s British Chapter’s prestigious Ineson Lecture to an audience of 115 at the Geological Society’s Burlington House in London. The lecture is named after Dr Jack Ineson, whose career was spent mostly with the Geological Survey of Great Britain, and who used his knowledge of mathematics and statistics to help introduce quantitative methods to British hydrogeology.

Callist presented the challenges and opportunities for the hydrogeological community in Africa and considered the fundamental importance of groundwater to the sustainable development goals. He highlighted the lack of groundwater specialists supporting NGO work in water resources development and drinking water supply, and emphasised the need to improve contracts and data gathering. It was very apparent that IAH members and skill-sets could play a vital role in managing many of the issues that Callist raised, for example through training programmes and technical oversight.

Several supporting talks were given. Guy Howard of DFID stressed the need for synthesis of research outputs, rather than detailed results, and realism concerning the financial constraints and trade-offs inherent in developing and implementing policy. Brighid Ó Dochartaigh of the British Geological Survey (BGS) presented examples of good data management and noted the continued importance of field data for interpreting more recently developed techniques such as water level monitoring by satellite. Richard Taylor of University College London (UCL) demonstrated the importance of long term records for understanding groundwater recharge and the impacts of climate change. Dan Lapworth (BGS), highlighted the potential of groundwater for supporting urban development in Africa and the urgent need for groundwater protection and regulation. The day included a lively debate on whether a levy should be paid towards groundwater monitoring every time an NGO or private institution drills a borehole.

Two awards were made. The Geological Society’s Whittaker Medal went to IAH member Jane Dottridge of Mott Macdonald; and the John Day Bursary was awarded by the IAH British Chapter to Rachael Fletcher to support her MSc Hydrogeology project at the University of Birmingham.

Presentations and posters can be downloaded from the IAH British website – link below.

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