Science of the Total Environment.
Science of the Total Environment.

The research article 'A contribution to drought resilience in East Africa through groundwater pump monitoring informed by in-situ instrumentation, remote sensing and ensemble machine learning' has been published in the journal Science of The Total Environment (Volume 780, 1 August 2021, 146486).


The prevalence of drought in the Horn of Africa has continued to threaten access to safe and affordable water for millions of people. In order to improve monitoring of water pump functionality, telemetry-connected sensors have been installed on 480 electrical groundwater pumps in arid regions of Kenya and Ethiopia, designed to improve monitoring and support operation and maintenance of these water supplies.

In this paper, we describe the development and validation of two classification systems designed to identify the functionality and non-functionality of these electrical pumps, one an expert-informed conditional classifier and the other leveraging machine learning. Given a known relationship between surface water availability and groundwater pump use, the classifiers combine in-situ sensor data with remote sensing indicators for rainfall and surface water. Our validation indicates a overall pump status sensitivity (true positive rate) of 82% for the expert classifier and 84% for the machine learner. When the pump is being used, both classifiers have a 100% true positive rate performance. When a pump is not being used, the specificity (true negative rate) is about 50% for the expert classifier and over 65% for the machine learner. If these detection capabilities were integrated into a repair service, the typical uptime of pumps during drought periods in this region could potentially, if budget resources and institutional incentives for pump repairs were provided, result in a drought-period uptime improvement from 60% to nearly of 85% - a 40% reduction in the relative risk of pump downtime.

Access the complete article on ScienceDirect.