Social Innovation Factsheet #1.4: Monitoring groundwater quantity to ensure its sustainable use and to avoid water conflicts
Groundwater is a resource to be protected due to its high but fragile resilience to climate change, as it responds much more slowly to meteorological conditions than surface water and, as such, provides a natural buffer against climate variability, including drought. On the institutional side, GRAPHIC initiative highlighted the need for more explicit discussion regarding groundwater since strategic management for climate resilient groundwater resources is the foundation for long-term adaptation and mitigation plans for development and poverty reduction.
Groundwater is an important resource in Africa that is unevenly distributed. In 2012, scientists estimated that African groundwater reserves are about 0,66 million km3. Not all of this groundwater storage is available for abstraction, but the estimated volume is more than 100 times that of the annual renewable surface water resources in Africa.
Since the early 19th century, many countries in Europe and in Africa have developed water management system mainly focusing on surface water. Progressively, the key role of groundwater as a support for different water uses in the context of climate change has been taken into acount. For example, in times of serious drought boreholes are generally drilled. As scientists predict climate with hotter and drier weather and more intense but less frequent rainfall events and considering how important groundwater is to reduce poverty and support economic growth notably in rural area, plans for integrated sustainable management of water resources (surface and groundwater) are necessary. These plans need data on the availability of the resource and on the recharge capacity.