Panafrican News Agency

UNESCO Director General says humans are increasingly polluting or drying up existing water resources

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay has stated that humans are increasingly polluting or drying up existing water resources, "sometimes with irreversible consequences".

The ninth World Water Forum is a week-long series of conferences and workshops aimed at accelerating universal access to water and sanitation.

"Making smarter use of the potential of still sparsely developed groundwater resources, and protecting them from pollution and overexploitation is essential to meet the fundamental needs of an ever-increasing global population and to address the global climate and energy crises," she said at the World Water Forum in Senegal on Monday.

She added: “Groundwater currently constitutes about 50 per cent of the water withdrawn for domestic use worldwide, and 25 per cent of the volume used for irrigation, according to UNESCO.

But governance of the resource is often poor and there is a shortage of technical expertise in some parts of the world, notably in sub-Saharan Africa.”

She pointed out that, among other things, UNESCO is urging better data collection for groundwater resources, suggesting that oil, gas and mining firms share their in-house data with public authorities.

Untapped groundwater resources have "vast potential" to boost the diminishing global availability of fresh water, UNESCO said. 

The UN agency released its 248-page report to coincide with the start of the ninth World Water Forum.

The UNESCO report says that about 99 per cent of all of the liquid groundwater on Earth is groundwater, although the resource is often poorly understood or undervalued.

"In the context of growing water scarcity in many parts of the world, the vast potential of groundwater and the need to manage it carefully can no longer be overlooked," the report said.

Water consumption is expected to increase by one per cent annually over the next 30 years, driven by population growth and demand from industry and agriculture, UNESCO said.

-0-PANA MSS/RA 21March2022