The Global Crisis of Abstraction

Building partnerships to sustain groundwater-based economies

Building partnerships to sustain groundwater-based economies

Dried-out farm plots in Morocco’s Souss Massa region that used to be the green fields of key fruit and other food producing areas in North Africa remind us of the severe impacts of groundwater over-abstraction. The realities of depletion are threatening livelihoods and food production as the rate of use continues and specific policies fail to equally engage users and the state. Around the world, wells pump 1,000 km3 of water each year, largely to supply irrigated agriculture, and often undermining the mere basis of its existence – groundwater.

Close-up of water being pumped to irrigate fields in Nepal.
Close-up of water being pumped to irrigate fields in Nepal. Photo: Fraser Sugden / IWMI

The Program Theme for this year’s Stockholm World Water Week 2016 is “Water for Sustainable Growth.”  There is no area where this is needed more than with respect to groundwater.  This “invisible commons” is difficult to measure and manage, and all across North Africa and Asia, water tables are declining at a cataclysmic pace as farmers try to get sufficient water to feed their crops. The tragedy doesn’t lie only with the race to empty aquifers, but the cleanliness of the water has become an issue for many communities where mineral leaching or other pollutants have poisoned wells – maybe for generations to come.

In order to sustainably harness groundwater for the benefit of our children, collaboration of the world’s finest minds is required.  IWMI/WLE and partners are excited to announce the launch of GRIPP, or the Groundwater Solutions Initiative for Policy and Practice, at Stockholm World Water Week Booth 27 on the 30th of August at 17:30. The presentation will include groundwater’s many uses: food security, sustainable development, water security and climate change adaptation, energy, transboundary aquifers, and governance. Over cocktails, a USA Today movie highlighting the necessity to protect groundwater will be screened and people will be encouraged to learn more about joining this partnership and protecting this vital resource.

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