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The research organizations engaged in the ARIGA project included: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), University College of London, Training and Research Support Centre, Acacia Water, Centre for Training and Integrated Research in Arid & Semi Arid Lands Development (CETRAD). The project had a timeline of one year and commenced in June 2013 and is scheduled to be completed by December 31st 2014.

The Merti aquifer in Northern Kenya is a fossil groundwater body, which supports local communities and also people living in the worlds’ largest refugee camp at Dadaab. The use of the aquifer may have reached unsustainable levels because abstractions exceed the known recharge, a situation, which may further aggravate with plans for further groundwater development to supply urban water to the city of Wajir.

ARIGA aims to develop a novel approach for projecting the impact of groundwater development projects that does justice to the multiple uncertainties that accumulate along the entire socio-hydrological impact-pathway. This approach starts with mapping out the impact pathway, starting with the investment or management decisions that will affect the hydrological system through to the likely impacts on the livelihoods of water users. It models and assesses the probability of envisaged outcomes, using quantitative estimates of the uncertainty of individual variables in this socio-hydrological system. The approach provides a tool which allows for any factor which is deemed important in the impact pathway to be considered, no matter how uncertain or difficult to measure it may be. The research presents an approach to address uncertainties around ground water development and applies this to model the uncertainties around investment in development of the Merti Wajir Water pipeline project.

Recent devolution of government authority to county level also leads to a spur of local aspirations and plans for water development that is likely to affect the use of the Merti aquifer. The second part of the research aims to assess the impacts of these various plans and aspirations and review the effectiveness of the devolved political and water management institutions to effectively manage the sustainable use of the groundwater.