Groundwater and Human Security Case Studies - GWAHS-CS
Leading Organization:UNESCO-IHP (International Hydrological Programme of UNESCO)UN-Water Programme on Capacity DevelopmentUnited Nations University-EHSUnited Nations University-INWEH (International Network on Water, Environment and Health)
Implementing Agency and Partnering Organizations:UNU-EHS, UNESCO-IHP (International Hydrological Programme of UNESCO), UNU-INWEH (International Network on Water, Environment and Health), UN-Water Programme on Capacity Development
Within the project, social-ecological indicators of vulnerability with respect to groundwater are developed. To characterize the vulnerability of selected communities facing various types of groundwater degradation processes or for which groundwater increases freshwater supply, four case study areas were selected for the project research: One in Egypt, one in Iran and two in Vietnam.
The study area in Egypt (Wadi El Natroun) is located approximately 90 km south of Alexandria and 110 km North West of Cairo in the WesternDesert. Infiltrating water from the NileRiver is the main recharge source for the four existing groundwater aquifers. Water supply for domestic, agricultural and industrial purposes is mainly extracted from a Pliocene aquifer. In the last decade the economic development (linked to growing agricultural activities and population growth), lack of waste water treatment and sanitation systems led to the overexploitation and contamination of the aquifers. The unsustainable over pumping has caused salinisation, the depletion of ground water levels and a reduction of groundwater quality.
The study area in Iran is situated 200 km southeast of Shiraz in the Gareh-Bygone Plain in a semi-arid climate. Floodwater emanating from the BishehZardRiver Basin is used for artificial recharge of the alluvial aquifers during each flood events. Economic development, as well as climate change, has caused groundwater degradation, and bigger artificial recharged zones are required in the future to satisfy the growing water demand. In addition, the large usage of fertilizers and the related high nitrate concentrations in the floodwater reduces water quality and threatens human health.
The two study areas in Vietnam are both located in the south of Vietnam in a tropical climate. The first test site is located in the Mekong Delta in the TraVinhProvince. Groundwater is mainly used in the dry season from November to April and the coastal aquifer system which consists of several aquifers, is not homogenously distributed over the whole province. Economic development and intensive agriculture, especially shrimp production and processing, as well as increasing livestock farming has caused saline intrusion and reduced water quality through the contamination with fertilizers. The second test site is located in the sand dune area of BinhThuanProvince. The aquifer system consists of two layers: An unconfined aquifer and bedrock. Groundwater is naturally recharged from rainwater but recent studies showed that the aquifer has a high storage capacity and that artificial recharge might be a possible solution for the declining groundwater levels. The groundwater degradation, caused by deforestation, and the fast development of tourism and shrimp production has caused the upcoming of saline water from deeper fossil resources. Furthermore, the local mining of titan has caused arsenic and iron pollution threatening the health of local communities that use the water as drinking water.
The overall objective of the project is to address the threats to human security and well-being currently posed by water scarcity and water quality degradation in developing countries and the role of groundwater management and protection in alleviating such threats.
The main objective of the research project is to adapt and apply vulnerability assessment methods to determine the vulnerability of communities who face freshwater supply problems, with an emphasis on groundwater. Groundwater can play a major positive role for the livelihoods of communities facing water supply shortages but can also be a threat when the resource becomes degraded.
Dr Fabrice Renaud
Tel.: + 49-228-815-0211
Project Status:Competed (2008-2010)