(May 14, 2020) Why Groundwater matters: The case for new approaches

  • May 14, 2020

Groundwater provides almost half of all drinking water worldwide, about 40% of water for irrigated agriculture and about 1/3 of water required for industry. In fact, a large part of increase in water use since 1970 across various sectors is due to development of groundwater sources. in large parts of Asia, development of shallow groundwater sources led to a ‘revolution’ of sorts in agricultural expansion.

Further, groundwater helps sustain ecosystems, maintains the baseflow of rivers and prevents land subsidence and seawater intrusion. Groundwater is an important part of climate change adaptation and food security; and is often the only solution for people without access to safe water.

So groundwater use has increased manifold over the past few decades, and is only increasing further. In many areas, it has already reached its limits. Groundwater tables are falling, aquifers are getting polluted, and cases of saline intrusion in aquifers are common. Disappearance of groundwater sources has lead to many instances of migration and conflict among communities.

Against this backdrop, what is the best way forward in terms of managing our shared groundwater resources? Based on insights from Yemen, Ethiopia, Palestinian Territories, Egypt, Pakistan and India, Frank van Steenbergen (Director, MetaMeta) will present a vision for global groundwater governance. Key to it is a call to embrace and leverage local politics, rather than operate outside of it. Mohammed Bazza (Water Governance Experts) provides special remarks.

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