Why Groundwater Management
Groundwater is a vital resource of great social, environmental and economic importance.
With continued population growth and industrial expansion affecting the status of groundwater in the world, the full implementation of strategies for groundwater management is essential.
In the SADC region, there is insufficient awareness and ability to implement effective management of groundwater and drought in the region despite groundwater is the source of water for more than 70 percent of the population.
The development of SADC countries is highly dependent on adequate and reliable water resources. About one third of the population in the SADC region live in drought, where groundwater is the main source of water for human population, livestock and most other activities.
The issues of groundwater management in SADC
Lack of information - Although the surface water resources are generally well characterized in the region, there is a shortage of even basic information for groundwater resources. In many cases, the aquifers are not known, making it difficult to predict the effects of the use of groundwater in one place on groundwater users elsewhere.
Similarly, there is little information on the ecosystem dependence on groundwater. Specific ecosystems such as the Okavango Delta, the Zambezi, Kafue Luangua and flood plains, wetlands fringing around lakes and Chilwa Malawi, the Oshana in Namibia, sand rivers at the junction of Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa, and the valley dambo systems were studied. However, these studies have focused on wildlife / vegetation and environmental aspects and have not paid much attention to the dependence of these ecosystems on groundwater. Thus, there is a lack of physical and ecological information available on groundwater systems in the southern African region and this lack of basic information management efforts boundaries.
Failure to appreciate the role of groundwater - Several countries in the SADC region share aquifers. However, there is little understanding of their nature border between managers and communities dependent on aquifers. Use of aquifers May have a regional impact, as the abstraction of groundwater May reduce the base flow of river systems shared by several countries and therefore potentially threaten ecosystems and downstream water users. Similarly, opportunities for cooperation across borders to use groundwater resources to protect human health and ecosystems of drought are poorly understood. Currently, there are no joint monitoring networks, much less management plans in place for shared aquifers.
Rainfall variability - The high rainfall variability and impacts resulting from severe droughts and floods have serious repercussions on the economy and the lives of some ecosystems in the region. Improved management of water resources is at the heart of water mitigate these shocks. The importance of groundwater in drought management arises in part on its ability to provide renewable quantities of good quality water and partly on the storage capacity of aquifers. If properly managed, these aquifers can be used to reduce stress on water surface during dry periods. To do this in a sustainable way - the combination of surface and groundwater - requires a good understanding of the basic properties of the aquifer and good management structures.
Legal and regulatory limits - Laws in most member countries have been developed with the regulation of surface water sources in mind. For example, until recently, in Zambia, there was no reference to groundwater in the Water Act the consequence is that there is little legal support for the management of certain characteristics of groundwaters, such as the creation of public and private property rights. In addition, the Water Act has not always gone hand in hand with increasing decentralization of responsibility for water management and increased responsibility for groups of users.
Even in cases where there is adequate legal support, the application of formal regulation is generally low due to lack of basic resources and a lack of training and capacity.
Institutional limitations - the responsibility of managing the resource base is often fragmented between different authorities and different scales. This problem has been exacerbated in recent years with the move towards decentralization of management responsibility. Typically, local governments, departments and water services planning and environmental departments are responsible for different aspects of groundwater management, both central and regional offices of ministries of Other diffusion of responsibility. Not only is this difficult to drive decision making, but it makes the same basic information for management, such as monitoring of groundwater, more difficult to obtain.
There is a lack of staff in many government offices for training and experience in groundwater management, and financing in many SADC countries prevent such personnel available from the exercise of their features.