Africa Groundwater Atlas

BGS Research

The Africa Groundwater Atlas is an online resource providing an introduction to the groundwater resources of 51 African countries and a gateway to further information.

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The Africa Groundwater Atlas home page. © BGS.

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The successful and sustainable development of groundwater resources in Africa is critical for future safe water supplies, economic growth and food security. This depends on a good understanding of groundwater and hydrogeology. However, too often it is hard to find and access high-quality existing information about groundwater in Africa, even when this information exists. The Africa Groundwater Atlas helps to address this problem by making groundwater information more visible and accessible.

The Africa Groundwater Atlas was developed by the BGS in collaboration with the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) Burdon Groundwater Network for Developing Countries and with more than 50 groundwater scientists across Africa, who co-authored country profiles. The atlas, with the accompanying Africa Groundwater Literature Archive, provides a platform to publicise expert knowledge of African groundwater.

National groundwater resources

The Africa Groundwater Atlas provides:

  • a summary of the hydrogeology of the main aquifers of each country
  • overview hydrogeology maps for 38 countries freely available to download as GIS shapefiles (more to be released)
  • sections on groundwater status, use and management, including groundwater monitoring, with up-to-date information on the key organisations in each country involved in groundwater development and management
  • background information about geographical setting, climate, surface water features, soil and land cover, with accompanying maps
  • lists and online links to further information sources and references

Supporting information at a continental scale

The atlas also includes a series of pages with supporting information and links to further resources on many different areas of African groundwater and hydrogeology, including:

  • the main hydrogeological environments across Africa
  • appropriate recharge estimation techniques for African environments
  • effective methods for developing groundwater resources
  • information on transboundary aquifers

Ongoing improvements

The Africa Groundwater Atlas is a living resource. If you have, or know of, information or resources that could help us improve the atlas, please get in touch.

Other resources

The Africa Groundwater Literature Archive is a searchable online database of literature about groundwater in Africa.

Aquifer productivity Africa
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Aquifer productivity map of Africa. © BGS.

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Making data and information accessible

The availability and accessibility of robust groundwater data and information is a major constraint to developing groundwater resources across Africa and is an additional barrier to undertaking research. The primary aim of this project was to provide detailed and appropriate information on African groundwater resources to a range of stakeholders, including:

  • hydrogeologists and other practitioners developing groundwater supplies and looking for information and data on groundwater conditions in specific regions or countries
  • researchers looking for information and data on African groundwater to support their investigations
  • policy and decision makers who need an overview of groundwater conditions and issues in a country


The Africa Groundwater Atlas project was carried out as part of the Unlocking the Potential for Groundwater for the Poor (UPGro) research programme, which focused on improving the evidence base around groundwater availability and management in sub-Saharan Africa, to enable the sustainable use of groundwater that benefits the poor. UPGro was jointly funded by DFIDNERC and ESRC.

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Contact Brighid Ó Dochartaigh for further information.

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