Small-Scale Water Storage in Western Sahel

Start of new project

Recently a consortium led by Aidenvironment, Acacia Water, MetaMeta & IHE Delft won a World Bank contract for a study on operationalizing small-scale water storage initiatives with the aim of providing water security in Western Sahel. The one-year study will deliver implementation guidelines for good practices and a webtool to show the potential for small-scale water storage infrastructure.


Small-scale watershed interventions

It is well-known that small-scale watershed interventions (implemented on a large scale) can deliver significant benefits in terms of local water resources availability: they can attenuate runoff, enhance groundwater recharge, increase baseflow, and thus increase local water availability for water supply, irrigation and other uses.


Poor implementation in terms of siting or design of interventions can lead to non-functional interventions, unsustainable use of water resources, pollution of water sources, or a waste of implementation budget. Particularly the placement of infrastructure without taking into account the water resources situation can lead to overexploitation. Therefore, it is important to focus on context specific hydrological objectives in designing the watershed interventions.


The objective

The objective of the study is to deliver a typology of areas (landscape, geology, soil, climate, land use) that will firstly allow implementing teams (communities, NGOs, government agencies) to understand the potential for, -and implement small-scale interventions. Secondly it will help to lobby and advocacy purposes to influence high level policies.


The consortium

The complete consortium consists of Acacia Water, Aidenvironment, MetaMeta, UNESCO-IHE, UNESCO-IGRAC (International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre), Global Water Partnership West-Africa, WOCAT (World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies, at University of Bern), Verdant Earth (at Leeds University), and SRC (Stockholm Resilience Centre).


Work by the consortium has already begun with a literature review. This will be followed by an analysis of good and bad examples (lessons learned) of ongoing projects with small scale water infrastructure in the Western Sahel. Development of typologies for the potential of small-scale interventions (based on e.g. biophysical and socioeconomic characteristics). A web tool will be made to enable implementers to assess the (potential) water issues, understand the potential for the use of different types of water resources, and determine what kind of interventions from the 3R approach (Recharge, Retention, Reuse) are possible given the conditions.


For more information please contact Anne van der Heijden (

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