Parts of Sub Saharan Africa makes little use of its groundwater resources, which contributes only 1% of total renewable water resource withdrawals for agriculture. Projected and continuing changes to the amount, intensity and predictability of rainfall in much of Southern Africa will lead to changes in the way the region views its groundwater resources. Increasing water scarcity will be particularly difficult for smallholder farmers who produce 90% of Africa’s food who haven not access to central water supply infrastructure. Currently, only 6% of the total cultivated land in Africa is irrigated. It has been estimated that irrigation could boost agricultural productivity by 50%. Moreover, population growth and economic development will increase the demand for water across sub Saharan Africa, currently estimated at around 50 litres per capita, compared to 10 times that amount in the USA.The challenges of a dynamic and declining water availability situation will lead to greater pressure to exploit unrealised and little-known groundwater resources, particularly for rural smallholder farmers who will be under pressure from competing water users such as commercial agriculture, urban development and energy production (the Nexus challenge).
This conference seeks to advocate for a more central and pronounced role for groundwater in the WEFE Nexus dialogue as a way of minimising shocks, risks and vulnerability to climate change. The conference will be offered parallel to the 8th Africa Water Week, and also align to the theme of the 8th Africa Water Week. Both the 3rd SADC Groundwater Conference and the 8th Africa Water Week (AWW8) are aimed at rallying Africa’s water sector towards a common voice as the world prepares for the 9th World Water Forum (9WWF) to be held in Dakar, Senegal in March 2021.