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Malawi urges African countries to preserve groundwater

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By Israel Masiano, contributor:

Water and Sanitation Deputy Minister John Bande has called on African countries and the world at large to ensure proper use of groundwater.

He said this at the 13th Ordinary Session of the Executive Committee of the African Ministers Council on Water in Windhoek, Namibia.

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The meeting ran from Tuesday to Friday last week.

Bande said groundwater deserves utmost consideration due to its “support for human activities, ecosystems’ health and its potential to address pressing issues such as climate change and food security”.

He said, with continued growth of populations and increased demand for safe water across Africa, pressure on water resources is higher than ever before.

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“However, when well tapped, groundwater can bring about enormous socio-economic transformation. Issues of hydrological intermittency currently besetting countries will be history,” Bande said.

A number of studies have indicated that less than 6 percent of cultivated land in Africa is under irrigation. This is against the backdrop that there are 72 trans-boundary aquifers across Africa.

“Therefore, by increasing the extent of irrigation by, say, 10 percent only, Africa can no longer rue the impact of the food shortage brought by the Russia-Ukraine war and persistent droughts. Africa will be food-sufficient and ultimately transform the entire value chain.

“To this end, corroboration becomes paramount as aquifers can be shared between African states. Once states and governments join hands, management and development of inter-ground waters will enhance regional cooperation and integration for shared development,” he said.

Coincidentally, the issue of ground water conservation took centre stage during this year’s World Water Day celebrations on March 22, when activities were held under the theme ‘Ground Water: Making the Invisible Visible’.

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