Join the Water Dissensus debate: Is groundwater development in Africa driven by a precautionary principle?

Farmers installing solar irrigation in Ethiopia (photo: Maheder Haileselassie/IWMI).

Farmers installing solar irrigation in Ethiopia (photo: Maheder Haileselassie/IWMI).

The Water Dissensus is a forum of the journal Water Alternatives. It provides a platform for critical debates about contemporary water issues. Dissensus – antagonistic points of view – is turned into a fruitful and constructive learning opportunity for the benefit of all interested parties. It allows for reasoned dialogue that has the potential to further understand and appreciate complex water issues, and to generate new ideas.

The current tantalizing debate on the forum relates to groundwater in Africa, with the title ‘Groundwater shortage or crisis narratives are restricting development in Sub-Saharan Africa’. Jude Cobbing, a Water Resource, Groundwater and Environment Specialist with many years of experience working in South Africa and as Water and Development Specialist for the World Bank, puts forward the contention that “the global groundwater scarcity narrative is threatening the potential of groundwater use to drive socioeconomic development in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). There is a growing consensus that global groundwater is scarce, threatened, polluted or in crisis. This is reflected in the popular media (for example, an article in The Economist in 2019 headlined that global groundwater is ‘dangerously depleted’), as well as in several scientific and multilateral publications warning of a global groundwater crisis. A 2019 Call to Action on Global Groundwater Sustainability, signed by hundreds of scientists and practitioners, warned of ‘groundwater in peril’ and urged for a focus on sustainability and management of the resource. In many regions, these sentiments are accurate and highly suitable. However, they are not universal, and are threatening progress in SSA.”

Feel free to follow the debate and contribute your views and experiences to further inform and fuel the dissensus.

End of discussion: June 04, 2020.

Blog piece around the Dissensus and the question whether ‘Groundwater can cushion Africa from future shocks, and spark development?’.


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