Call edition 2012

A new edition of the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has been launched. This call is open until March 31st, 2011. You can read in the regulations whether you comply with the criteria for participation.

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Hydrogeological investigation in the area of May Zegzeg, near to Hagere Selam (Northern Tigray, Ethiopia)

Ine VANDECASTEELE student laureate

°1985 Belgium
Master of Geology, Universiteit Gent, Belgium, 2007

Hydrogeological investigation in the area of May Zegzeg, near to Hagere Selam (Northern Tigray, Ethiopia)

In the northern Ethiopian highlands soil degradation has reached such extremes that food production is threatened. In the rainy season heavy precipitation washes away the fertile topsoil and in the dry season drinking water is scarce. To deal with both problems efforts are made to increase infiltration of rainwater during the rainy season, which should reduce surface erosion and improve groundwater replenishment.
The basin of the May Zegzeg was selected as the test area in which various measures to conserve soil and water were implemented as a pilot project. Use was made of, for instance, check dams and periodic abstention from grazing of certain pieces of land, so that natural vegetation can regenerate.
This research included a geological mapping of the basin, followed by field measurements to gauge the hydrological functioning of the basin and to draw up a water balance. A numerical groundwater flow model was developed, based on Visual Modflow.
The fieldwork and modelling carried out showed that the measures to improve rainwater infiltration and the land management projects did indeed increase groundwater levels and are therefore beneficial to water provision and food production. The measurements also give some indications of where to drill wells, primarily for irrigation. Some evidence of water quality was also presented.
The research conducted will hopefully encourage the adoption of soil and water conservation methods and so contribute on a larger scale to water provision in Tigray.

report: Prof. J. Berlamont, Laboratory of Hydraulics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium