Horn of Africa Groundwater for Resilience Learning Agenda

The World Bank

Ethiopia 🇪🇹

Kenya 🇰🇪

Somalia 🇸🇴

South Sudan 🇸🇸

Djibouti 🇩🇯


The HoA is one of the most vulnerable regions of the world, characterized by complex development challenges and varying degrees of fragility, conflict and violence (FCV), food crises, and social, political, and economic conditions. High poverty levels in the HoA are most prevalent in the northern parts of Kenya, Somalia, and Sudan. Food crises remain ubiquitous across the region, with pockets of famine particularly in countries like Somalia. Food insecurity in the HoA is primarily driven by armed conflict and ethnic violence, economic shocks and macroeconomic challenges, and by climate change-induced erratic or below-average rainfall and desert locust. The regions population is also growing rapidly, and is expected to reach 250 million by 2030.
Climate shocks in the HoA are contributing to increased tensions over scarce natural resources, particularly over water and land, as well as to food insecurity and heightened risks to public health. Changes in both rainfall and temperature will have significant effects on the water cycle and on water resources, on drought frequency and intensity, as well as on erratic floods. Conflicts such as farmer-pastoralists or refugees-host communities disputes are more likely to occur in areas with difficult access to water. Climate-related changes in pasture and water availability could alter pastoral mobility, exacerbating tensions over land and water resources in the region and worsen cases of gender-based violence.

The impact of these challenges is particularly acute in the HoAs borderlands, areas that have been long associated with socio economic marginalization and chronic poverty, but also with economic opportunities and trade. Existing at the margins of state control, the borderlands often face low agricultural productivity, environmental degradation, food insecurity, conflict and forced displacement. Mostly outside the reach of public policies and investments, they have a low presence of formal institutions, and are characterized by the lack of basic services. Yet, the borderlands also offer economic opportunities associated with formal and informal trade (e.g., linked to cross-border price differentials), but also to pastoralism, a key source of local livelihoods.

Groundwater plays an important role in building climate resilience in the borderlands of the HoA, but the resource remains neglected and its potential largely untapped. In a region where surface water is scarce due to high temperatures and consequent evapotranspiration rates, groundwater often remains the most reliable source to provide stable supplies of water for domestic, agriculture and livestock use, acting as a natural reservoir during times of drought, facilitating adaptation to high climate variability and shocks. Despite the considerable potential its exploitation largely untapped.

Transboundary aquifers (TBAs) constitute a crucial resource for vulnerable livelihoods in the HoAs borderlands. Home to large pastoral and agro-pastoral communities with a growing young population, the regions borderlands are located either on top or near major groundwater aquifers, some of which are transboundary. The region is known to have 11 TBAs, diverse in size, climate, hydrogeology, human pressure, and levels of management. However, data and in-depth studies about them remain scarce, are not accessible in an structured manner, or requires harmonization between countries sharing the resource.

The World Bank-financed Horn of Africa Groundwater for Resilience Program (GW4R), currently under preparation, and to start implementation in August 2022, addresses these challenges at the regional level. The Program builds on existing institutional efforts across the region to reduce vulnerability and build resilience. Its objective is to increase the sustainable access and management of groundwater in the Horn of Africas borderlands. In its phase I (US$335 million), this program is to be implemented in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, with a small component for IGAD. South Sudan and Djibouti are to join the program in subsequent phases during 2022-2023 (additional US$70 million). The program has two main components: (1) Delivery of inclusive groundwater services to priority areas. This component will support small/medium scale infrastructure development and inclusive community-level access to groundwater in the borderlands of the HoA, with a strong focus on the sustainability of service delivery; (2) Generating groundwater information and strengthening regional and national groundwater institutions. Activities will focus on generating essential data and information needed for informed decision making on sustainable groundwater management, and at the same time, will strengthen the capacity of key regional and national entities that play a role in the management of the resource, while building trust and fostering collaboration. IGAD will be leading most of the activities under this Component through regional-level efforts that will be articulated with country activities at the national level.

Key knowledge and capacity gaps remain regarding sustainable groundwater management in the HoA, which need to be addressed in order to build solid foundations for long-term collaboration in TBA. Despite valuable lessons emerging from the WB engagement in TB waters in West Africa, Southern Africa, including the SADC-GMI, and the Horn of Africa, important knowledge and capacity gaps remain. Among them, (a) little is known about role of groundwater in the HoAs regional integration, including the role of regional, national and local institutions, and the trajectory towards long-term cooperation and joint management of TBA; (b) sustainable groundwater service delivery, considering the high failure rate of water delivery infrastructure and the need to ensure sustainability (including local ownership and participation in O&M); as well as (c) the role of groundwater in reducing fragility and building resilience in the region, particularly given the ever changing impacts of displacement, political turmoil, and climate change and variability in the HoA, among other shocks and stressors. The regional GW4R Program provides the opportunity to address these knowledge gaps integrating practical experience and evidence from implementation at scale, emphasizing learning by doing and strengthening the links between research and practice.

The envisaged scope of work is as follows:
-) The development of the GW4R Programs core learning agenda around three key thematic areas:

o Groundwater and Regional Integration. This learning area is at the core of CIWAs mandate, and addresses the building blocks of regional cooperation around transboundary water resources in the HoA. It will focus on the gradual, long-term process needed to foster increased knowledge sharing, dialogue and trust among stakeholders (across the local, sub-national, national and regional levels), towards future joint management and implementation.

o Groundwaters Role in Addressing Fragility and Enhancing Resilience in the Borderlands. This learning area focuses on the linkages between TBAs and fragility in the HoAs borderlands, including the interactions between the different key variables related to sustainable access and management of the resource, water security, and FCV conditions that characterize the regions borderlands.

o Sustainable Groundwater Service Delivery. This learning area focuses on key success factors in the achievement of sustainable and inclusive groundwater service delivery in vulnerable communities, particularly in borderland areas. It includes the documentation of best practices around CDD approaches and other models existing in the region, effective outreach, and engagement of communities in groundwater development, operation and maintenance (O&M) to be better equipped to cope with climate shocks, including community-level knowledge.

This component will include the implementation of an enhanced data collection system using innovative remote monitoring tools. With the purpose of feeding the learning agenda products, program data will be collected using a combination of remote monitoring tools and ground truth data collected throughout the projects implementation and supervision. State-of-the-art remote monitoring tools (e.g., GEMS) will be tailored to the Program with the support of specialized WB staff and the programs Task Team, and used to capture and analyze data in real-time, enabling adaptive management, as needed

– B) Application of the lessons learned in the applied research in A for an (i) enhanced institutional capacity of groundwater institutions participating in the Program, and (ii) enhanced operational quality in similar WB operations (i.e., groundwater management in complex FCV geographical contexts, including borderlands). Component 1 will use the information and knowledge products developed as part of Component 1, to conduct an assessment of institutional and procedural strengths and weaknesses among the different entities involved in the Programs implementation and supervision and support the development institutional capacity of those involved (i.e., IGAD, participating Governments and the WB) by identifying how could their approach to the Programs design and implementation be improved. Key areas of the capacity building component are (i) enhanced M&E, (ii) Enhanced adaptive risk management and stakeholder engagement, including environmental and social management aspects, (iii) Enhanced fiduciary aspects, (iv) Enhanced Regional articulatio and implementation.

This assignment should be conducted with a strong presence in the field, in the areas of Program implementation of the Program countries (mostly Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia).

If you encounter technical difficulties while uploading documents, please send an e-mail to the Help Desk at [email protected] Qualification Criteria

  • 1. The firm or consortia should include expertise in the following fields: provision of water services in rural areas, technical understanding of groundwater, irrigation and solar pumping, transboundary cooperation and integration, social risk management and anthropology, particularly in fragile and conflict environments, climate change and resilience, project management and fiduciary aspects.
  • 2. Provide information showing that they are qualified in the field of the assignment.
  • 3. Experience in the geographical areas of focus (Horn of Africa)
  • 4. Provide information on the technical and managerial capabilities of the firm.
  • 5. Provide information on their core business and years in business.
  • 6. International Development projects in Sub Saharan Africa and Horn of Africa, preferably in rural areas and complex FCV environments, and related to service delivery to vulnerable populations.
  • 7. Provide information on the qualifications of key staff.
  • 8. Project manager (15 years of experience in development programs in FCV environments), Political Science specialist (experience of 10 years on Transboundary cooperation matters, diplomacy or similar), Rural Water Supply experts(10 years), Social risk management experts (10 years), Environmental risk management experts (10 years), Fiduciary experts (10 years) , hydrogeologist (10 years)

* – Mandatory