SADC Groundwater Archive

Safe and reliable water supplies sustain growth and development in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region where most rural communities and many small towns and irrigation schemes depend on groundwater from wells, boreholes and springs.

A range of mainly unpublished "grey data" reports, papers, manuals and maps describing hydrogeological work undertaken within countries in the SADC region during the 20th Century are available to download free of charge. These reports can inform wealth creation in the SADC region by providing valuable and much needed information on groundwater development and investigation.

The original documents are held in two BGS repositories. Historical documents mainly dating from the 1890-1970 are at the main BGS library at Keyworth. Project reports and related data produced by BGS hydrogeologists working in SADC countries subsequent to 1970 are held in the groundwater archive at Wallingford. The information in these collections documents the history of groundwater use and the development of hydrogeology as a science within the SADC community of nations. Of particular note are methods used to assess groundwater resource potential and specifically the development and exploitation of the Precambrian Basement Complex aquifers within eastern and southern Africa.

The Keyworth documents provide insight into the importance of groundwater to the economic development of the former British colonial territories. At that time, the exploration and development of groundwater held within weathered and fractured basement complex rocks that underlie much of these countries was undertaken primarily by geological survey departments for departments of water, irrigation and public works. Early electrical resistivity apparatus was used to locate borehole sites subsequently drilled using steam driven drilling rigs. Boreholes and wells were located mainly as sources of water for townships, railways and cattle trek routes.

The Wallingford documents provide information on groundwater exploration, research and development in the SADC region countries especially where BGS hydrogeologists were seconded to support activities within geological surveys. Major projects were undertaken in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Botswana where studies were made of groundwater occurrence in weathering profiles and fractures in Basement Complex aquifers. Assessment of reports from other SADC countries indicate that similar studies were undertaken at that time by Scandinavian consultants in Tanzania, by Portuguese hydrogeologists in Mozambique and French workers in Madagascar and elsewhere.

The SADC Groundwater Grey Literature Archive is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in delegated cooperation with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) on behalf of the SADC Secretariat. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is implementing the partnership programme.