Dialogue to begin on West Africa groundwater resources

The Global Water Partnership West Africa (GWP / WA) and a number of partners are set to launch a “regional dialogue on the joint management of groundwater resources of West Africa. ”

The overall objective of the dialogue is to induce an effective consideration of groundwater in national and regional water management by countries, regional integration organisations, and Basin organisations, with a special focus on transboundary aquifers.

To come up with solid consensual working bases and address the genuine priorities of the concerned actors, a regional meeting on underground waters, including policies and practices, taking into account climate issues, with a particular focus on transboundary aquifers was deemed necessary following various consultations conducted by the GWP/WA with the Global Environment Fund (GEF), various bodies of the United Nations ( UNEP, UNESCO, FAO), the Observatory of the Sahel and Sahara ( OSS), the International Union for Nature Conservation (IUCN), the International Hydro geologists Association ( IHA), the International Agriculture Development Fund ( FIDA), as well as regional and sub regional bodies ( WRCC/ECOWAS, CREPA, CILLS, WAEMU, Basins agencies).

Announcing this last week in Ouagadougou through a press release, the GWP/WA said this dialogue project is supported by the African Ministerial Council on Water (AMCOW), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), CILLS and the WAEMU amongst others.

According to the press statement, the workshop will be held on Wednesday October 26 and Thursday, October  27, 2011 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, with main partners and sponsors including the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa through the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), the Regional Bureau of FAO based in Accra, CREPA, the Global Water Partnership (GWP), as well as UNESCO/Africa and UNEP.

Expected to be discussed are five core topics including the State of scientific and technical knowledge on ground water resources; Identification of the main environmental and socio-economic stakes on the aquifers and The Dialogue : Definition of national and transboundary priorities regarding ground waters.

Others are Management of the institutional, legal and policy framework as well as Capacity development and strengthening of adaptation/resilience skills.
Meanwhile, a preparatory study whose results will be presented was conducted by a team of consultants on: the state of knowledge and management of groundwater in Senegal, Mali & Niger; Climate change and its impacts on groundwater and Major initiatives relating to groundwater in the West African sub-region – the experiences of good practice in other regions of the groundwater management.

Furthermore, a series of presentations will be made by some participants to start debates in order to agree on the priority themes of the regional dialogue at scientific and technical, socio-economic and environmental levels as well as for the institutional, legal, political and regulatory frameworks.

At the end of the workshop guidelines, recommendations and a roadmap for the development and implementation of a “dialogue on groundwater” is expected to be proposed at the national, regional and various aquifers as well as priority actions which need to be taken at these different levels.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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