GGRETA Project

Project Background

Groundwater covers a significant part of the world's water demand, in particular in areas with a relatively dry climate. During the last half of a century, pressures on groundwater resources grew steadily. Due to it's invisible nature, underground location, and limits in data availability, the management and protection of groundwater tends to be very difficult. In addition, most groundwater systems have a large number of users and other stakeholders, often with competing or conflicting interests. Moreover, many groundwater systems around the world (or ‘aquifers’) are transboundary, i.e. extending over two or more administrative units inside a country or crossing international boundaries.

Governance of such transboundary aquifers requires harmonization and cooperation across national borders among the various authorities in charge of groundwater. Adequate governance provisions – related to information systems, institutions, policy and different kinds of support – are required to enable effective groundwater management interventions. However, worldwide, experience on this subject is still limited.

The GGRETA project (“Governance of Groundwater Resources in Transboundary Aquifers”) aims at gaining experience in this respect, on the basis of three pilot studies of transboundary aquifer systems in different parts of the world: the Trifinio aquifer in Central America, the Stampriet aquifer system in Southern Africa and the Pretashkent aquifer system in Central Asia. GGRETA is part of the 'Water Diplomacy and Governance in Key Transboundary Hot Spots Programme' financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and cooperation (SDC) and is implemented by the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (UNESCO-IHP) in close cooperation with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the UNESCO International Groundwater Assessment Centre (IGRAC) and local project teams.

The main goals of the GGRETA 'Phase 2' (2016-2019) project were to enhance cooperation on water security, prevent transboundary and water-use conflicts, and improve overall environmental sustainability.

The project has served to respond to the pressing need for increased knowledge on the physical and socioeconomic characteristics of the three transboundary aquifers, namely by:

  1. Reinforcing the capacity of Member States in managing groundwater resources through tailored capacity-building activities;
  2. Strengthening cooperation among countries sharing the aquifers; and
  3. Developing long-term strategies for the monitoring and governance of the aquifers’ groundwater resources.

The project mainstreams gender-sensitive water monitoring, assessment and reporting, under the supervision of UNESCO WWAP. WWAP provides capacity building on sex-disaggregated indicators, and methodologies to data gathering  to group of national experts for the assessment of transboundary groundwater in Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, and provides guidance and material to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Uzbekistan.

More information:

The GGRETA Project will conduct in-depth assessments of three selected case studies:

1. The Esquipulas-Ocotepeque-Citalá (Trifinio) Aquifer (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras)

2. The Stampriet-Kalahari/Karoo Aquifer (Namibia, Botswana, South Africa)

3. The Pretashkent Aquifer (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan)

Project Phases

In the Phase I of the project, developed in 2015-2016, the WWAP gender methodology on disaggregated water data was first tested in the countries. The GGRETA Phase II started at the end of 2016 with the inception regional meeting “Second Regional Meeting on Tools for the Sustainable Management of Transboundary Aquifers” held in Johannesburg, SA, (Nov 28-Dec 2, 2016). In the meeting, WWAP introduced the second phase of the gender component activities for the Stampriet Transboundary Aquifer system shared by Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. It also presented the Toolkit on water & gender and its application and protocol. The gender component’s work plan articulates into the following activities: training on sex–disaggregated data collection using the WWAP methodology and indicators; ii) information gathering on gender policies in relevant ministries and national institutions, iii) gender analysis of the available information. During 2017, WWAP executed the training (based on the 6 developed macro-modules).

Read more on the GGRETA website


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