fbpx

Effective management of groundwater vital - NGO

BY: Emelia Ennin Abbey
Dr Olufunke Cofie (3rd from right), Country Representative, IWMI, explaining a point to Prof. Mike Yaw Osei-Atweneboana (2nd from left), Director CSIR- Water Research Institute, and some participants after the capacity development workshop. Picture: EDNA SALVO-KOTEY
Dr Olufunke Cofie (3rd from right), Country Representative, IWMI, explaining a point to Prof. Mike Yaw Osei-Atweneboana (2nd from left), Director CSIR- Water Research Institute, and some participants after the capacity development workshop. Picture: EDNA SALVO-KOTEY

The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) has urged stakeholders to implement strategies for the effective management of groundwater to harness its potential to boost agricultural production and lift millions out of poverty.

It said groundwater, although found underground, remained a critical resource for the sustainable development of any economy.

The IWMI is a research-for-development organisation that delivers sustainable solutions towards a water-secure world.

Groundwater has been identified as the largest liquid freshwater on earth, almost 20 times that of rivers and lakes, largely used for domestic, irrigation and industrial operations, yet generally untapped in many African countries.

This year's World Water Day, scheduled for March 22, 2022, is dubbed: "Groundwater: Making the invisible visible," to draw attention to the hidden water resource critical but not fully recognised in sustainable development policy making.

Precious resource

The IWMI Representative for Ghana and West Africa, Dr Olufunke Cofie, who made the call in an interview on the sidelines of a capacity development workshop jointly organised by IWMI, the Water Resources Commission and the Water Research Institute, said Ghana was listed among countries with groundwater-supported agricultural practices, hence a careful and planned development of groundwater could make it an important part of poverty reduction measures in the country and in Africa at large.

"We need to work together to sustainably manage this precious resource. Groundwater may be out of sight, but it must not be out of mind. It is invisible, but its impact is visible everywhere. As climate change gets worse, groundwater will become more and more critical, especially in the dry areas,” Dr Cofie said.

The workshop was organised as part of activities to mark this year’s World Water Day.

In Ghana, rural water supply is almost exclusively provided through groundwater exploitation, mainly through boreholes.

Studies have shown that groundwater in Ghana is of good quality, although there is localised pollution due to high levels of iron, fluoride and other minerals and cases of high salinity in some coastal areas.

According to Dr Cofie, there are uncertainties in knowledge about groundwater recharge in the country, and that there was, therefore, the need for detailed study in terms of how much groundwater was available and how the quantity varied over time due to natural variability and abstraction.

Dr Cofie pointed out that unplanned groundwater use faced several challenges.

"Pumping costs are rising, and irrigation-supporting subsidies are compromising the viability of rural energy providers in some countries,” she said, and observed that the long-term sustainability of groundwater systems was not easily determined.

"In arid regions where groundwater is a primary source of water for many uses, intensive groundwater irrigation may threaten future water security," she noted.

On the pollution of groundwater, she said a study had shown that groundwater in many of Africa's most crowded regions lay close to the surface, which made it vulnerable to pollution with huge implications for health and livelihoods, while at the same time such shallow groundwater had great potential for transforming the face of agriculture.