German Project Monitors African Water
Three major German organisations are using Campbell Scientific weather monitoring equipment to search for a solution to the severe water resource problems in Western Africa.
The Impetus Project is a combined activity undertaken by the University of Cologne,
the University of Bonn and the German Aerospace Centre. Their detailed and complex
study hopes to provide not only explanations for the water shortages in West Africa,
but also to help Governments to develop a strategy to sustain water supplies and
improve water quality.
There are now twenty-two countries that can be considered to be below the threshold
of 1000 m³ of renewable fresh water resources per capita per year and it is
forecast that in the first quarter of this century, 25% of the world’s population
will suffer from severe water scarcity.
Impetus will operate on two projects, the first in the Republic of Benin and
the second in the Kingdom of Morocco. It is a fact that river discharges in
West Africa have decreased by between 40% and 60% since the 1970’s, whereas
the 1950’s could be described as rain rich! The Benin study seeks to understand
the cause of these vastly differing periods, by concentrating on the hydrological
cycle of the river Ouémé and its surrounding area.
The researchers set out to diagnose and model the spatial rainfall variability
across seasons and decades. Study areas include soil water dynamics, surface
water runoff, ground water recharge, soil degradation and relationships between
various types of vegetation and the water cycle. They will also look at the
relationship between humans and the water cycle and offer suggestions for water
saving measures, water management systems and how water scarcity might initiate
All the weather stations being used on the project are Campbell Scientific
stations and set to measure temperature, humidity, windspeed and direction,
global radiation, reflected radiation and radiation balance. The stations, which
are all autonomous, (running on their own power supply topped up by a solar
panel) are equipped with CR10X dataloggers and in several cases AM416 multiplexers.
Other measurements are soil temperature flux, soil temperature, soil moisture
and water content using a TDR system.
The Moroccan study focuses on the Drâa Valley to the south-east of the
High Atlas mountains. The bulk of Morocco’s rainfall occurs during the winter
months, but since the late 1970’s Morocco has experienced a number of extremely
dry winters. As much of the water available to the region comes from snow storage
high in the mountains, researchers have been called upon to make the first study
of the amount of potential water stored in the high mountains. To carry out
this work, the stations for this study are quipped with SR50 snow depth sensors
The ultimate goal of the project’s first phase is to construct a real-time
rainfall monitoring system for tropical West Africa.
Peter Hass of Campbell Scientific says: “Campbell Scientific are pleased
to be able to support the Impetus project. It’s a good example of an interdisciplinary
and application-oriented activity, and of how three major organisations can
work together. It’s typical of the type of work being done by many of our colleagues
For further information please contact Campbell Scientific at:
Campbell Scientific Ltd.
80 Hathern Road
Loughborough, LE12 9GX
Phone: +44 (0) 1509 601141
Fax: +44 (0) 1509 601091
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