The International Water Management Institute in collaboration with the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC), Government of Botswana (Department of Water Affairs – BW) and South Africa (Department of Water and Sanitation – RSA) hosted a four–day inception workshop for the 2nd Phase of the RAMOTSWA Project at the Protea hotel, Mahikeng, South Africa, June 06-09, 2017. The meeting launched the second phase of the project “The Potential of the Transboundary Ramotswa Aquifer (RAMOTSWA2), which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with collateral funding from IGRAC and WLE, the Water, Land and Ecosystems Research Program under CGIAR.
The overarching objective of the RAMOTSWA project (1st and 2nd Phase) is to support a long-term joint vision and cooperation on the shared groundwater resources of the Limpopo River Basin and build a community of practice around transboundary aquifer management in the SADC region.
Opening the workshop Jonathan Lautze, IWMI Senior Researcher and Project Leader highlighted the following as the main objectives of the workshop: to present RAMOTSWA2 and discuss work plans, showcase RAMOTSWA1 outputs and findings, harvest lessons learned from RAMOTSWA1, develop dedicated working groups for each project component, advance the RAMOTSWA advisory committee, provide updates on the Strategic Action Plan (SAP) and discuss ways forward, and implement Ramotswa Information Management System (RIMS) training. Other IWMI staff who actively participated at the workshop were Karen G. Villholth, Research Group Leader-Resilience and Sustainable Groundwater, Girma Ebrahim (Researcher – Hydrogeology and Water Resources), Manuel Magombeyi, Researcher – Hydrology/Hydrogeology, Water Resources Management) and two interns (Jonathan Otene PhD student at the University of Pretoria and Natacha Martin MSc student from Engees University). In addition to IWMI staff, present at the event were technical experts from governments and universities from Botswana and South Africa as well as representatives of USAID, the SADC Water Fund, and the SADC Groundwater Management Institute (GMI).
The following progress was made during the workshop
- Boundaries of the Ramotswa Transboundary Aquifer and associated Ramotswa Transboundary Aquifer Area (RTBAA) were agreed
- Transboundary pollution was confirmed to be a priority issue, evidenced by two transboundary streams visited during the workshop’s field trip
- Sanitation was identified a key challenge in the aquifer area – both from pit latrines and effluent from wastewater treatment plants
- Terms of Reference for a RAMOTSWA Advisory Committee were refined, and a timeline was agreed to finalize them to enable their presentation at the next meeting of the Botswana-South Africa Joint Permanent Technical Committee (JPTC) in July 2017
- Acceptance reached that there is a need to accelerate progress on the joint Strategic Action Plan (SAP), given the long gestation period associated with resources mobilization for joint investments
- Methods clarified to measure impacts of agricultural technology (Chameleon, Wetting Front Detector) adoption on crop production, water use and farm income
- An initial conceptual model for the aquifer hydrogeology was developed, and use of MODFLOW-2005 in Model Muse Modelling environment, assuming an Equivalent porous media( EPM) approach, was agreed.
- One of thirteen specific compartments in the Ramotswa aquifer was selected for intensive modelling.
- Recognition that there is clear scope for mining lessons and experiences from technical cooperation in the Ramotwa transboundary aquifer, to improve cooperation on SADC’s 30+ additional transboundary aquifers
As part of the workshop, a field excursion to three sites in South Africa was organized. Visits to the first two sites highlighted possible transboundary pollution issues. The first two sites visited were Paleng stream and another stream flowing from Lobatse (Botswana) into South Africa. The third site, an 85 ha irrigation scheme fed by water from the Dinokana eye, highlighted the potential productive use of water from the Ramotswa aquifer.