History of CIWAS

The Desert Research Institute (DRI) has a long history of supporting foundations, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) addressing development challenges in Ghana. Since 1991, DRI has provided technical training and research to water project staff in West Africa in (1) the use of appropriate groundwater exploration methods and techniques to increase the success rates of water well drilling, (2) water quality analysis and interpretation of results, (3) the investigation of the use of local geomaterials to treat contaminated water, (4) the development and use of hydrogeological and water quality data management systems, and (5) the training of staff through short courses and hands on experience at DRI and graduate degree programs at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR)

DRI’s first efforts in Ghana were in partnership with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the NGO World Vision and we were focused on a shared commitment to alleviate the suffering from Guinea worm infection on millions of rural Ghanaians through provision of safe, sustainable water supply. In the early 1990’s, Ghana’s Greater Afram Plains (GAP) was an area of very remote access and difficult terrain, where safe drinking water, improved sanitation and basic hygiene (WASH) was nearly non-existent.  The lack of safe water coupled with the absence of improved sanitation and hygiene, meant water-borne diseases, including the devastating Guinea worm, were rife.  DRI developed techniques for exploring for groundwater using remote sensing technology, geophysics and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to improve drilling success rates for hand pump wells that led to broad-scale safe water access and the eradication of Guinea worm throughout the Greater Afram Plains.  DRI’s work would also grow to include critical water quality improvements, including analysis and research into the use of local materials to treat water. With the lessons learned in Ghana, DRI expanded our work with the Hilton Foundation, World Vision and other NGOs into Mali and Niger.


Major Achievements

  • Contribution towards the eradication of Guinea worm in Afram Plains of Ghana
  • Contribution to the elimination of trachoma in Ghana, in partnership with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, government and other NGOs.
  • Support to World Vision Ghana on water sample analysis, treatment and building of a state-of-the-art water quality laboratory in Savelugu in northern Ghana.
  • Conducted watershed studies to evaluate the sustainability of water resources in northern Ghana in light of increasing use of groundwater, decreasing rain and climate change.
  • Building the capacity of staff in in hydrogeological and related fields through short training courses in West Africa and the US and through graduate programs at DRI and the University of Nevada, Reno.

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