The conference is in response to the very high dependenceof human populations and ecosystems on groundwater in the region. It is estimated that over 70% of the 250 million people living in the SADC region rely on groundwater as their primary source of water. Groundwater resources face a number of risks including pollution, depletion from increased abstractions due to rapidly growing water demand, and the impacts of climate change. Groundwater resources also present a number of opportunities, as they comprise a means to cope with rainfall variability, alleviate growing water scarcity in the region, and help to drought-insulate and purify community water supplies. With the resource at risk, millions of people and national economies become fragile to even smaller but potentially accumulating changes in the resource availability. Still, groundwater and informed conjunctive use of surface and groundwater do not feature prominently in water discourses and national or transboundary policies and water plans. Proactive groundwater management systems and accounting for climate change in groundwater resources planning coupled with early warning mechanisms to detect groundwater mining and contamination scenarios are required to secure the long term sustainable use and dependence on the resource and to optimally harness the potential of the resource. It is therefore imperative that conjunctive use of surface and groundwater is understood and advocated for, especially in transboundary aquifers (TBAs) of the SADC region where significant human development is happening presently. The role of groundwater in the water, energy and food (WEF) nexus and the link to sanitation and other pollution sources are also immense and need to be further explored. Knowledge and capacity development at all levels are required to enhance the attention to and proper development and management of groundwater.
The SADC Groundwater Conference
will be held annually, with the primary objective of providing a platform for the advancement of knowledge sharing on sustainable management of groundwater at national and transboundary levels across SADC Members States.