PRETORIA, South Africa, 22 March (IPS) – KS. James Sauramba is the Executive Director of the SADC Groundwater Management Institute. Groundwater is invisible, but its effects are visible everywhere – this limitless resource provides almost half of the world’s drinking water. About 40% of irrigation water for agriculture and about a third of water needed for industry comes from groundwater. Despite these impressive facts, groundwater remains invisible and less prominent than surface water.
This year, 2022, World Water Day brings groundwater resources into the spotlight because the day is celebrated with the theme: “Groundwater – making groundwater invisible”. As we celebrate World Water Day, it’s important that we stop and ask ourselves this question, “what are we doing to ensure sustainable development and manage this precious resource?” Or have we done enough?”
Groundwater plays an important role in water supply and food security, and improves the livelihoods of many people in the SADC region, especially vulnerable communities in rural and remote areas. poor settlements in urban areas.
“With the increasingly severe impacts of climate change, we need to recognize that groundwater can be a catalyst for economic and social development in the SADC region. Furthermore, groundwater can play an important role in sustainable development and building resilience – if developed and managed sustainably,” said Eng. James Sauramba, Executive Director of SADC-GMI.
Sustainable Development Goal 6 underpins ensuring access to water and sanitation for all. If developed sustainably, groundwater can be instrumental in achieving SDG 6 as outlined in the United Nations 2030 Agenda.
English Sauramba went on to say, as the impacts of climate change intensify and more people turn to groundwater for their primary water supply, it’s up to us to work together to sustainably manage our resources. This precious resource becomes even more important.
Used sustainably, groundwater can provide drinking water for about 40% of the SADC region’s estimated population of 345 million who currently lack safe drinking water and sanitation services. It could also alleviate pressure on the area’s surface waters and help communities endure today’s very frequent and severe droughts.
Communicating about groundwater issues is key to making groundwater visible. Stakeholder engagement, shared knowledge, and informed decision-making are integral foundations of good water governance and can never be overemphasized.
It is important that we find creative ways to raise awareness and communicate groundwater problems. While some progress has been made in this area over the past 5 years, more needs to be done.
The SADC area’s current estimated extraction rate is around 2,500 m3 per capita per year representing only 1.5% of the available renewable groundwater resources. This means that much of the groundwater remains untapped at a time when the gap between water demand and water supply is dramatically widening.
Earth’s population of nearly 8 billion in 2020 is expected to reach 11 billion by 2100. Humans will have to learn how to produce enough food without destroying the land, water and climate. This is known as the biggest challenge that humanity has to face. Sustainable groundwater management is at the heart of the solution.
SADC-GMI strives to make groundwater visible
SADC Groundwater Management Institute (SADC-GMI) as a center of excellence in promoting equitable and sustainable groundwater management in the SADC region since 2016, up to now, has carried out many projects. impact small-scale infrastructure development projects in 10 SADC Member States to support the development and management of this finite resource.
Projects include groundwater assessment and monitoring systems, community water supply plans, deep aquifer exploration, groundwater mapping and development. These projects have contributed to increased water security and improved livelihoods for the benefiting communities. Approximately 93,000 beneficiaries (of whom 53% are women) across the SADC region benefited from the interventions.
Transboundary cooperation among Member States that share groundwater resources is also fostered through the conduct of research to provide knowledge on six of the estimated 30 transboundary aquifers in the region. SADC area.
Three new boreholes have been drilled in Chongwe to promote sustainable groundwater development and reduce the devastating impact of water shortages on some 12,000 residents. The project has enhanced the existing cluster of wells while alleviating water shortages in the area.
Once again, SADC-GMI has carried out a similar project in Muchocolate in the Matutuine district of Maputo province, which provides clean and safe drinking water for approximately 2,000 people and their livestock. Another major milestone was recorded in the Kingdom of Eswatini, where a groundwater monitoring project was completed. The project includes 10 monitoring sites, 4 of which use renewable energy to pump water.
Phase 2 – Sustainable groundwater management in SADC member countries
As of mid-November 2021, SADC-GMI embarked on Phase 2 of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Project in SADC Member States, which will once again bring groundwater into the spotlight.
Therefore, SADC-GMI will continue to engage SADC Member States to sustainably develop groundwater resources in the region to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable communities, especially who rely heavily on groundwater and address groundwater challenges in the region.
© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service