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SADC discuss strategies of enhancing ground water resources to fight poverty

afrol News, 26 May - The Southern African Development Community (SADC) multi-stakeholders are convening in Johannesburg, South Africa, to discuss issues of groundwater use and how it could be enhanced to to fight poverty.

The regional groudwater dialogue, being held in partnership with the Global Water Partnership – Southern Africa (GWP-SA), will be held over two days, starting tomorrow, with the stakeholders from across SADC expected to share and exhibit how different sectors use groundwater as well as develop strategies on how each sector can contribute to an integrated approach in the use, development and management of groundwater as an essential resource in the region.

The Water Dialogue, which is supported by the government of Denmark under the SADC/DANIDA Regional Water Sector Programme, is mainly aimed at exposing and raising the understanding of the development aspects of integrated water resources management (IWRM) among stakeholders including senior policy makers from water-using and water-influencing sectors as well as the media.

"The 2009 Water Dialogue will specifically seek to improve the region’s understanding of groundwater as an important resource in addressing critical development challenges like climate change, food security, and health among others. The stakeholders will also explore the potential of groundwater in addressing local, national and regional social-economic development and poverty reduction challenges especially as these relate to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s)," SADC said in a statement.

The theme of this year’s Dialogue is ‘Watering development in SADC: Surfacing the Hidden Resource- Groundwater.’

According to the SADC water sector, groundwater is the primary source of water for drinking, domestic use, livestock, irrigation and other uses for 70 percent of about 250 million people in the SADC region, yet there is little knowledge and appreciation of its potential role to contribute to socio-economic development and poverty alleviation.

"Because groundwater is hidden underground, out of sight and with little knowledge about its potential to contribute to socio-economic development, it is often left out in the integrated water resources management policies and programmes," the statement said.

The dialogue will also follows-up on SADC’s initiative to take groundwater in the sub-region to a multi-stakeholder management framework to ensure that groundwater is properly managed and included in all water resource management processes.

The Senior Programme Officer for water in the SADC Directorate of Infrastructure and Services, Phera Ramoeli, said groundwater should be considered as a strategic resource in alleviating poverty in the region because of the increasing demand and its use in human development endeavors.

Delegates to the dialogue will include senior government officials from the water sector as well as other sectors including energy, tourism, and agriculture; community representatives, members of civil society, members of the donor community and the media.

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