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The outcomes of the 11th APWF webinar


Date: 30th June (Wed) 2021
Topic: Groundwater: Making the Invisible Visible
・Dr. Aditi Mukherji, Principal Researcher, IWMI New Delhi
・Ms. Amrtha Kasturirangan, Senior Manager, Arghyam

The acceleration of the actions toward sustainable groundwater management in Asia and the Pacific is urgently required. According to the Asia-Pacific Water Development Outlook (AWDO) 2020, twenty ADB member countries received the worst possible rating for groundwater resource sustainability. The rapid depletion of groundwater aquifers by intensive economic activities and explosive population growth causes downturns in water availability, water quality, and biodiversity, along with a weakened resilience to natural disasters. It has caused inequities in water access and negative impacts on people’s health and well-being. Solving these issues requires examining the complex and dynamic socio-water challenges at scale and planning and implementing regulatory, economic instruments, and cross-sectoral coordination between the sectors, using the best available science and technologies, including aquifer mapping.

 The 11th APWF Webinar, organized on 30th June 2021, discussed the pathways toward sustainable, inclusive, and resilient groundwater management in Asia and the Pacific with Dr.Mukherji, Principal Researcher, IWMI New Delhi, and Ms. Kasturirangan, Senior Manager, Arghyam. It primarily looked at India’s national policies and practices at community levels, considering India is the world’s largest user of groundwater.

 Since the 1970s, groundwater irrigated area has increased due to the green revolution. 88% of all water extracted from groundwater wells is used for irrigation. Nearly 48% of the urban water share is derived from groundwater. Seven hundred million rural India depend on groundwater to meet all their needs.  Dr. Mukherji pointed out groundwater depletion in India results from water, energy, and food policies that have given rise to a nexus where growth in agriculture has been supported by unsustainable water and energy use trends. She showed the issues with the analytical results of groundwater structures, consumption of groundwater for irrigation, and electricity consumption in agriculture.  

 Dr. Mukherji highlighted managing groundwater requires a water-energy Food nexus approach for its sustainable use. If groundwater is managed well, it would be critical for climate-resilient agriculture in the future. Moreover, she pointed out nexus policy needs to be tailored to each local condition as the electricity operation of groundwater structures was different in east India and the other regions.

 Ms. Kasturirangan, Arghyam, introduced participatory groundwater management with rural communities in India. Arghyam aims to achieve strengthening ability of the ecosystem to enable water security for 100 million by 2023. Arghyam has conducted the capacity building and training to manage groundwater at each village community sustainably using information technologies in addition to the supports at each field. Arghyam’s online program organizes weekly virtual sessions with peers and experts. All contents are available for free in the hands of the participant at all times through a smartphone. In addition, each person will learn the groundwater management in other village communities and the progress through the dashboard. As a result, many women joined the training for sustainable groundwater management. Each village community is transitioning from doing to enabling groundwater management. 

 In a panel discussion, the speakers and audience discussed emerging insights for Asia-Pacific leadership on re-imagined operating models by comparing practices by the national government and each village community in India.

 Three hundred twenty-four people from India, Japan, Pakistan, Nepal, Philippines, etc., participated in the 11th APWF Webinar. APWF secretariat was able to recognize that the international community has a high interest in groundwater management

The recording and presentation documents

(Reported: Yumiko Asayama, Manager)

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