Arab States are among the most water scarce in the world, with nearly 390 million people living under conditions of water scarcity or absolute scarcity. Freshwater scarcity is aggravated by several factors, including dependency on transboundary water resources, pollution, climate change, non-revenue water losses, inefficient use, increasing demand, insufficient investment and damage to infrastructure due to conflict.
Water scarcity constitutes a significant challenge for sustainable development, as it directly affects the ability to ensure access to water and sanitation for all. It also has important implications for energy and food security, economic development, and urban and rural livelihoods. National and regional security considerations are impacted by water security and transboundary water cooperation is required to achieve global goals.
Sustainable groundwater management in the Arab region is central to water security. Groundwater accounts for half of the freshwater needs in Arab States, for agriculture, industry, energy or domestic use. Reliance on groundwater is increasing as surface waters become more scarce, polluted and costly to capture due to climate change impacts and increasing demand. Arab States are also heavily reliant on transboundary aquifers, with most Arab States sharing groundwater resources. Over 58 per cent of the region's surface area is part of a transboundary groundwater basin, whose management is complicated by insufficient data, over-extraction and limited cooperation.
ESCWA has launched several initiatives to support member States in managing groundwater resources, including issuing guidelines for managing groundwater extraction in the Arab region; conducting assessments on the impacts of climate change on groundwater resources; and implementing capacity-building activities and workshops on groundwater management.
This project builds on the experience and robust groundwater knowledge products from the Arab region, while addressing the regional knowledge gap on groundwater resources, in order to assist member States in improving water security and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6 targets. It draws upon innovations in water technologies for monitoring, managing and reporting on scarce water resources, geospatial analysis and remote sensing tools, and the development of an interactive and accessible digital knowledge platform, the Arab Groundwater Knowledge Platform, that can facilitate transboundary dialogue, increase capacity to cope with climate change impacts on groundwater availability, and improve water security in Arab States.
The project is based on:
- Informing policymaking through the Arab Groundwater Knowledge Platform
- Building capacity for assessing climate change impacts on groundwater
- Increasing access to regional knowledge and information on groundwater resources through disruptive technologies
Arab Center for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD)
- Developing the Arab Groundwater Knowledge Platform
- Updating the regional hydrogeological map
- Delivering a regional workshop on the three project pillars:
- Arab Groundwater Knowledge Platform;
- Assessment of the climate change impacts on groundwater;
- Use of selected disruptive technologies for managing groundwater resources.
- Issuing a training manual on the assessment of climate change impacts on groundwater resources
- Conducting national assessments of climate change impacts on groundwater resources
- Issuing a training manual on the use of selected disruptive technologies for managing groundwater resources
- Delivering three national workshops on the use of disruptive technologies for managing groundwater resources
- Delivering a regional workshop to exchange lessons learned