Goal 6.5: Integrated management of water resources (II)

Goal 6.5: Integrated management of water resources (II)
2017. International course on the integrated management of water resources: applying knowledge of underground waters to international cooperation projects for development. (Guatemala) © Centro de Formación de la Cooperación Española en La Antigua

Goal 6.5: Integrated management of water resources (II)

Integrated management of water resources (IWRM) is a process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and other related resources, with the aim of maximising the resulting social and economic benefits equally, and without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems. The implementation of IWRM is one of the main goals set out in Goal 6 of the SDG.

By implementing IWRM, we are fighting to avoid conflicts over the use of water where quantity is limited, to coordinate the different interested parties to avoid confrontation, to avoid fragmentation of management of water resources, to coordinate use based on units of catchment area and groundwater units, which, despite being distributed across borders, represent the most reasonable of using and conserving water.

Furthermore, implementing IWRM is a management model which fights against climate change and natural disasters, as it sees water and everything related to water jointly, thus enabling sustainable and preventive planning for water resources.

The ways of applying IWRM are based around the participation of all the sectors and parties with an interest in their implementation and definition, on the support of the same by International Cooperation through technical and scientific assistance, and on creating competences, without forgetting that adequate funding is needed.

One of the most important ways of supporting developing countries is to pass on knowledge of IWRM between countries. There are many examples of this, such as the great Guarani aquifer located between Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. Its management is even more complicated than that of surface waters, as it is located in huge geological formations which are exploited by several countries. Sustainability of the resource requires, much more than with surface waters, a sound hydro-geological knowledge to enable a proper integrated management.

In Guatemala alone, it is true that scientific and technical knowledge of underground waters is, limited, even more so within the integral view of the water cycle. This is due both to the fact that universities, which are competent in this area, do not include sufficient depth of knowledge on the subject in their courses, but also because very few hydrologists work in the country which, therefore, affects professional development in this field. And this despite the fact that given the high levels of contamination in the surface water of nearly all the country, exploitation of underground waters is the main source of drinking water provision.

The picture shows a session of the international course held in the AECID Training Centre in La Antigua, Guatemala, in which technicians from the Instituto Geológico y Minero de España,  Tragsatec and AECID trained technicians from different institutions in Latin America in applying knowledge of underground waters to international cooperation projects.