Session FT 2.26
Groundwater for Life and Livelihoods - A Framework for Action
International Association of Hydrogeologists
IAH was pleased to organise this session at the 4th World water Forum with its distinguished partners in particular recognising that IAH was in 2006 celebrating its 50th anniversary of its foundation in Mexico City in 1956. This underlying objective of the session was to highlight and discuss the need for mobilisation of policy support for groundwater to facilitate and sustain much needed ‘local actions’ on resource management and protection. Although there will be important geographical variations, political action is required to achieve more focus on groundwater in economic and land-use policy, more commitment to government-community partnerships for resource governance at appropriate scale, and more investment in improved monitoring and information dissemination. This is vital for achievement of the UN-MDGs and also to sustain the improvements in human livelihoods, food security and poverty alleviation already achieved from groundwater use.
There is a deepening crisis in ensuring the application of best practice at all scales
The task is an urgent one because of depleting resources and deteriorating quality of groundwater
It is not a problem of basic knowledge because big strides had been made in scientific understanding but it is a problem of communication, appropriate policy and user understanding and capacity
Groundwater needs are not being adequately served by policy
There was a failure to understand the scale of significance of groundwater in supporting human and environmental water needs
speakers were concerned about the interplay between national/regional policy and local action and urged that this be very carefully considered within the context of the overall theme of the forum “Local actions for a global challenge”
A higher profile with greater political and policy understanding was needed to make the necessary improvements in management.
Orientations for action
The IAH has developed a proposal to the Global Environment Facility throughthe World Bank as implementing agency for a GEF medium-sized project to identify key groundwater policy needs at macro-level. These would be agreed through thematic workshops at regional centres, refined as coherent and integrated messages, and delivered to the appropriate political for regional development and environmental action.
One might ask wether it is necessary to mobilise international political action on policy support for groundwater management need to be taken from 'bottom-up' (via local government - community partnerships). However, it has become equally clear that unless 'bottom-up action' is complemented by top-down facilitation in terms of national political will to act on groundwater management agencies (with appropriate mandate, staff and budget) - then progress will be patchy and of questionable social sustainability.
The World Water Forum is encouraged to support action in respect of:
- policy: more focus on groundwater in economic and land-use policy, recognising the constraints on groundwater resource availability and the interactions with land-use management which are often ignored
- governance: more commitment and investment in governance institutions for groundwater at appropriate scale, which mobilise government-community partnerships to manage and protect the resource and inform policy at basin and regional scales
- information: better policy and governance need to be founded on sound information, which will mean improved dissemination of existing information on groundwater resource and quality status and not neglecting investment on key factes of groundwater monitoring to enable advances in scientific techniques to be reliably applied.
Local actions presented
Towards the stabilisation of the Villa de Arista aquifer
Victor Arriaga-Torres, COTAS del Valle de Arista, Mexico
The town and valley of Arista near San Luis Potosi has a vital agricultural economy dependent upon groundwater. Increases in production are necessary but the historic trends of groundwater are thought to be declining. The COTAS organisation has been central in obtaining better information about the status and resources of the aquifer, devising better management plans for the use of groundwater and involving farmers and other water users in the decisions that underpin this improved management. The objective is to achieve a management plan for the whole aquifer which will stabilise water levels and at the same time increase production. Present indications are that positive strides are being made to this goal. This is a partnership involving farmers, agronomists and water experts influencing the future management policies. It was a good example of local stakeholder involvement in water management.
The role of GROWNET in promoting over the Internet, the best practices and appropriate technology for Ground Water
Shrikant Limaye, Groundwater Institute in Pune, India
Our second local action emphasised information and communication at the local level in a different sense. The aim of Grownet project is to collect and verify through site visits, the ‘Best Practices’ in groundwater resources development and water resources management in low countries, and post them on a dedicated website of Grownet www.igcp-grownet.org for global dissemination and replication elsewhere. In order to achieve this goal, Grownet invites active participation from ‘collaborators’ who are experts having experience in Ground Water Resources Development & Management in low income countries. The programme interprets best practice very widely and includes techniques, technology and management practices which have proven to be successful. According to the observations made by Grownet Collaborators Appropriate Technology often for provides the foundation for Best Practices or Actions in Ground Water Management.