Policies 'need to reflect protection of water resources'

22 Oct 2013 18:40pm
WINDHOEK, 22 OCT (NAMPA) - The protection and sustainable management of groundwater resources in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa still need to be adequately reflected in policies and water resources management practices.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Representative to Namibia, Damir Dijakovic raised this concern during the first regional inception meeting on ‘Groundwater Resources Governance in Trans-boundary Aquifers of the Stampriet-Kalahari/Karoo Aquifer Case Study’ here on Tuesday.
The meeting was organised by UNESCO.
He said decision-makers are aware of the need to improve the protection and sustainable management of groundwater resources. Nevertheless, these decisions still need to be adequately reflected in policies and water resource management practices.
“Indeed, a comprehensive understanding of the resources and its characteristics are the basis for informed decision-making and planning and must go hand-in-hand with appropriate legal and institutional frameworks to support integrated and sustainable approach to water resource management,” he stressed.
This is particularly true and challenging in the case of trans-boundary aquifers, according to Dijakovic. It requires the co-operation and collaboration between the various authorities in charge of groundwater management to extend beyond national borders and to be based on a relation of trust and transparency.
More than 98 per cent of the planet’s unfrozen water freshwater is stored as groundwater in aquifers. It is estimated that groundwater provides about 50 per cent of the current drinking water supplies on a global scale.
Groundwater has been used increasingly and often unsustainably around the world. In fact, groundwater resources are often merely abstracted rather than managed without proper knowledge of the hydro-geological characteristics of the resources.
The degradation of groundwater quality due to pollution caused by the human activities is also increasingly threatening groundwater resources and reducing the amount of readily useable water resources per capita, according to Dijakovic.
So far, more than 400 trans-boundary aquifers have been identified by UNESCO in co-ordination with Member States.
The meeting ends Thursday.