Groundwater accounts for 99 percent of all fresh water on Earth. However, this huge natural resource is still poorly studied and used inefficiently. This is stated in the UNESCO report.

A new UNESCO study on groundwater will be discussed at the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar, Senegal, which started today. The authors of the study call on States to commit themselves to develop an adequate and effective strategy for groundwater management and use.

Currently, groundwater supplies half of the volume of water for household needs of the world's population, including drinking water for the vast majority of the rural population and about 25 percent of all water for irrigation.

"The quality of groundwater is generally good, which means that it can be used safely and at an affordable price, without the cost of additional cleaning. Groundwater is often the most cost–effective way to ensure reliable water supply to villages," said Gilbert F., Chairman of the UN-Water Resources mechanism and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Ungbo.

The authors of the new study note that in the next 30 years, the world's water consumption will increase by about one percent per year. The overall dependence on groundwater will increase as surface water supplies become increasingly limited as a result of climate change.


Millions of children around the world are already deprived of access to safe drinking water. Photo by UNICEF


But today, more and more water resources are being overexploited and sometimes with irreversible consequences. More rational use of groundwater resources, as well as their protection from pollution, are extremely important to meet the basic needs of the ever-growing population of the planet and to solve global climate and energy crises.

UN experts are confident that the development of groundwater can become a catalyst for economic growth by increasing the area of irrigated land and, consequently, increasing the yield and diversity of crops.

The report raises the issue of the lack of groundwater data and emphasizes that groundwater monitoring is not given due attention. Experts propose to involve representatives of the oil, gas and mining industries in this work, who already have a large amount of data, information and knowledge about the composition of deeper underground areas, including aquifers.

"Decision makers should begin to take full account of the vital ways in which groundwater can be used to ensure human life in the future, given that the climate is becoming increasingly unpredictable," said UNESCO Director–General Audrey Azoulay.

Another area is the prevention of groundwater pollution through proper land use and compliance with environmental standards, especially in areas of recharge aquifers. In many countries, effective groundwater management is hindered by a shortage of specialists in this field.

Main photo of FAO/Z.Luo - Rice Terraces in Southeast China

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