From our Groundwater Correspondents: Debut Issue ‘Scratching the Surface Magazine’ now available for download

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With the first year of the Groundwater Correspondents Network almost coming to an end, IGRAC proudly present the first edition of its yearly magazine: Scratching the Surface. This inaugural issue contains 11 articles from three different continents, covering an array of groundwater-related topics. From a feature article about a community of descendents of escaped slaves in Brazil to a profile story on a teacher turned well driller in Uganda. From an opinion piece about youth engagement to a survey driven article from Argentina to an ode to the Foggaras in Algeria. And from a news article on the role of groundwater projects in reducing sexual violence in DRC to personal reflections by a hydrogeologist. Enjoy the journey!

Scratching the Surface magazine

To assure sustainable groundwater management on a global scale, it is important to raise awareness on the implications felt at grassroots-level. The stories shared in this magazine are about personal experiences, community cultures, or local problems and solutions, but this only scratches the surface of the groundwater challenges and trends that are faced worldwide. This magazine aims at giving voice to those who are usually unheard in the groundwater and climate change debate, but who do feel its impacts on a daily basis. By doing so, we will eventually gain a deeper understanding and sense of urgency.

Download the magazine here:

Cameroon's humanitarian fallout

How internal migration increases pressure on already scarce resources of Buea and Limbe | Cameroon

By: Elvis Kang

The southwestern part of Cameroon is burdened under the weight of an armed conflict, that is increasingly leaving its mark on the country. Besides the obvious safety implications, the Anglophone Crisis also puts pressure on the water resources in the urban areas of Buea and Limbe. And once resources become scarce, usually the most vulnerable people are the first to pay the price. And who are more vulnerable than the people who had to leave their home and belongings to settle in a new environment? You can find this gripping story on page 66. 

Turkana’s Silent Struggle

Battling the Effects of Fluoride | Kenya

By: Etukutan Peter

In the heart of Turkana South, in the remote village of Katilu, Kenya, a silent struggle was unfolding, a battle against an invisible enemy that had plagued generations. It was a struggle for clean, safe water, a struggle that left its mark not only on the landscape but on the people themselves. This was the reality a little boy was born into, and early 2000’s marked the onset of a series of events that would reveal the harsh truth of their water crisis. Read this boy’s story on page 8 of the magazine.

Balancing act in world’s capital of wine

How a province managed to serve a growing population without pumping even a single drop extra | France

By: Mélanie Erostate

After a brief chronology on Bordeaux’s water history, this story zooms in on a more recent water challenge. With a growing population and finite resources, the only viable solution left was reduced water consumption. Interested to see if this was indeed achieved? Go to page 72 to find out more.

Drilling towards a better living 

Retired school teacher turned water provider | Uganda

By: Andrew Aijuka

A retired school head teacher, served for 37 years and retired in 2020. He has been contributing to his local community by providing access to clean water. He has taken the initiative of tapping and pumping groundwater to four villages, which has helped combat the water needs of these communities in Biharwe. Read the story of this remarkable man on page 88.

Opinion piece

Give the future a voice in the Dutch water sector | The Netherlands

By: Jakob Ollivier de Leth

Brace yourself: the country known globally for its spectacular water innovations and groundbreaking new water technologies, is slowing becoming Europe’s worst. Water quality in the Netherlands is bad, as just one percent of Dutch waters are considered of “good” quality. And in the more frequently occurring, dry
and hot summers, drinking water in this wet delta can simply run out. Interested in the remainder of this plea? Go to page 64.

Water Tradition Special

The Foggara of Adrar

What ancestral groundwater systems and wisdom can teach us, combating today’s challenges | Algeria

By: Zoubida Nemer

As the scorching sun bathes the Ardrar desert with relentless heat, a team of geophysicists collects data in the middle of the vast, sparkling golden dunes that stretch as far as the eye can see. Not a single hint of green or blue to spot in this arid canvas composed of shades of yellow. Suddenly, from this barren landscape an old man appears. He offers sweet dates and fresh water from his supplies and invites the researchers to join him on a trip to a special place. Join them on their adventure on page 32.

Water that keeps tradition alive 

Returning to ancestral lands | Brazil

By: Davi Cardoso

Imagine being taken from your homeland and losing your place of belonging. The residents of Quilombo de Baía Formosa, in Brazil, have not only lived through this tragedy once, but twice. This is a story about the descendants of those who set themselves free from slavery, about those being marginalized by both government and real estate market, about those regaining ancestral land and preserving a centuries old tradition. And groundwater quality is at the heart of it. Meet this resilient community on page 28.

Women in Groundwater Special

Combating gender-based violence with groundwater

How improved water supply contributes to reducing physical and sexual Violence Against Women | DR Congo

By: Jonas Kiriko

Access to clean water is one of the major challenges facing inhabitants in the DRC. Women and young girls, being the ones responsible for household water supply, are often exposed to sexual violence and other physical assaults in their quest for this scarce resource. With the intervention of humanitarian aid during the country's crises, the rise of private initiatives increasingly resorting to groundwater drilling offers a lifeline to women and young girls in various parts of the DRC. However, the rate of water supply remains low. Join our correspondent for his deep dive on page 42.

Rocky road or fluid path: Women in Geological Sciences in Argentina

How water brings together and promotes the integration of women in science | Argentina

By: Verónica Lutri

Every year, the 11th of February marks the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. With more than 105,000 events organised worldwide and supported by 163 member states, the spotlight is firmly directed to the role of current and future female scientists. But how much empowerment work is actually still needed to be done? Is gender discrimination even still an issue in present-day working environment? Argentina Correspondent Verónica Lutri decided to take a deep dive into this topic in relation to the geology sector in her home country. See her interesting discoveries on page 54.

Story of the Year Award: Your vote counts!

Did you enjoy the stories in this first edition of our magazine? Was there a particular story that stood out? Go to this online form and vote for your favourite story! Not only will you brighten up the day of the correspondent you are voting for, but it may also influence our choices for future topics to cover, knowing what the audience is interested in.