The Need for G-WADI
Globally, arid and semi-arid areas face the greatest pressures to deliver and manage freshwater resources. It has been estimated that some 80 countries, constituting 40% of the world’s population, were suffering from serious water shortages by the mid-1990s and that in less than 25 years two-thirds of the world’s people will be living in water-stressed countries, most of these in North Africa, the Middle East, and West Asia.
Challenges facing water managers in these areas include population growth, agricultural expansion, salinity increases, and agricultural/urban pollution. Goals include resource availability, equity in water management, and strategies to support peace and security.
Accurately assessing the water balance in semi-arid areas generally is more difficult than in water-rich countries. Rainfall is less predictable and of highly variable intensity and extent. Floods are difficult to quantify and estimation of recharge to aquifers is particularly difficult. Few surface water diversions are accurately gauged, and few wells are metered. Moreover, much of the water being withdrawn from deep aquifers is non-renewable and is being extracted beyond safe-yield levels.
G-WADI’s strategic objective is to strengthen the global capacity to manage water resources in arid and semi-arid areas. Its primary aim is to build an effective global community through integration of selected existing materials from networks, centers, organizations, and individuals who become members of G-WADI. The network promotes international and regional cooperation in arid and semi-arid areas.
Specific objectives include:
- improved understanding of the special characteristics of hydrological systems
- capacity building of individuals and institutions in water management
- dissemination of understanding of water in arid zones to the scientific community and general public
- sharing data and exchanging experience to support research and sound water management
- raising awareness of advanced technologies for data provision, data assimilation, and system analysis
- promoting integrated basin management and the use of appropriate decision-support tools.
Asian G-WADI was established in March 2005 based on consensus and collective understanding of representatives from Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to confront the urgent need for increased regional cooperation for sustainable development of arid and semi-arid zones. Major actions conceived:
Data: Asian G-WADI would house data and develop guidelines for data collection, using it in the region of Asia (Central, East, and South Asia). It will also identify representative basins fro evaluation of data/methods and be responsible for dissemination of water related information.
Modelling: Asian G-WADI would develop facilities, such as Asian G-WADI website, linking all the associated groups. This will enable all G-WADI community members to receive feedback as well as provide a bibliography for arid and semi arid area. Asian G-WADI would also keep an inventory of models used in arid and semi arid regions of Asia, identify global data sources for modelling (spatial-temporal series), and facilitate training workshops.
Research Needs: Asian G-WADI had identified specific research needs for arid and semi-arid regions of Asia that would be highlighted as areas of special emphasis and would provide assistance to conduct studies and research in concepts such as:
- Spatial-Temporal Rainfall analysis
- Evaporation and Evapotranspiration estimation
- Rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge
- Canal transmission loss
- Groundwater Management
Capacity Building: Asian G-WADI working through an integrated approach, involving governing bodies, active NGOs, educators, and scientist would be active in capacity building and networking.
Asian G-WADI Pilot Research Basins:
G-WADI’s primary aim of building an effective global community through international cooperation, also applies to Asian G-WADI, with specific emphasis on Asian water issues. Promoting international and regional cooperation in arid and semi-arid areas, the network also facilitates the creation of conditions for integrated basin management.
Focusing on this aim, the Asian G-WADI has formulated guidelines for proposing one or more basins as G-WADI pilot basins in a country, which can contribute to the knowledge base for the region. The present framework will also provide an effective tool to monitor and follow-up activities. An evaluation, a standard peer review process by the Asian G-WADI Steering Committee members, of proposed G-WADI pilot basins would then be followed. The objective of a peer-review process is to encourage those committed to the cause of G-WADI program in their country and willing to share information, knowledge, and experience globally.
The outcomes of the Asian G-WADI pilot basin case studies would be included in the UN World Water Development Report.