TUM Sustainable Energies, Entrepreneurship and Development (TUM SEED) Center: Sustainable Water Resources Management

Appropriate water management is crucial to achieve sustainable development. Several studies stress the need of implementing policies and strategies focused on integrated water resources management (IWRM). Irrigation development is one key factor within IWRM, it is seen as a major leverage to rural development, food security, livelihoods, and agricultural and economic growth, particularly in the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region. However, irrigation practices are not currently playing a substantial role on the agriculture in SSA countries. Despite the high variability and insufficiency of rainfall, food production in SSA is mainly fed by rainwater.

The SEED Project is part of a cooperation between the Chair of Hydrology and River Basin Management, the TUM SEED Center, and two partner universities from the Global South: the Bahir Dar University from Ethiopia and the Jomo Kenyatta University from Kenya. The project aims to develop strategies to ensure a sustainable irrigation management for the implementation of solar pump irrigation systems in the rural communities of Dengeshita (Ethiopia) and Olderkesi (Kenya). The research is mainly focused on assessing the amount of groundwater that is sustainably possible to extract for irrigation purposes to provide year-round food production. The implementation of an irrigation system that uses solar energy to pump sustainable amounts of groundwater will serve as an input for establishing water-food-energy systems intended to be self-sustaining.

In this sense, a coupled hydrological model (SWAT plus – MOODFLOW) will be developed to characterize the groundwater resource of the watersheds where the irrigation systems will be implemented.

The main activities of the project are:

  • Estimate the groundwater recharge within the basins where the rural communities are located
  • Estimate the groundwater irrigation potential based on the cropping area, the crop water demand and the irrigation efficiency
  • Develop a soil-water integrated management to optimize the water use and to improve the irrigation efficiency of the solar-pump irrigation systems

The outcome of the SEED project is to contribute in the development of water-food-energy systems in the global south by ensuring sustainability, avoiding groundwater overexploitation that can lead to the declining of water tables and to aquifer depletion. Subsequently, the intention is to set up the guidelines for the replicability of the project in other regions where irrigation could play a significant role in the sustainable development of the rural communities contributing to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Funding Programme: German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Project start: 01.11.2020
Project end: 30.10.2024
Project management: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Markus Disse, Dr. rer. nat. Alexander Gerner and M.Sc. Pablo Sarmiento