Jaipur, India, 01-03 June, 2016
In the midst of the critical and persistent drought in India, the Word Bank together with International Water Association IWA convened the South Asia Groundwater Forum, with 113 representative from 20 countries. This was a key event in bringing partners from the different countries in the region (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) together for the first time to present and discuss groundwater issues and solutions. The likely impediment to development from depleting and degrading groundwater resources in the region came to the fore. The water-food-energy nexus was stressed as particularly relevant in controlling groundwater use and sustainability. Another factor increasingly being brought forward is poor groundwater quality, which further limits the available supply, whether due to geogenic sources like arsenic or from human pollution, like nitrates and bacterial contamination and salinization from sub-optimal irrigation practices or over-abstraction of groundwater in coastal areas.
Jeremy Bird, Director General, International Water Management Institute IWMI, gave a keynote address, and highlighted the emerging political will to deal with groundwater issues. Besides Jeremy Bird, IWMI was represented by Paul Pavelic, Karen Villholth, Herath Manthrithilake, and Arif Anwar.
Geert-Jan Nijsten, International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre IGRAC, in collaboration with World Bank gave a very informative presentation on ‘Groundwater and climate change’ as an entry point to a group session on ‘A Roadmap for Building Drought and Climate Resilience in the South Asia Region’.