World Water Day 2018: Flinders researchers support Laos in nature-based solutions for water

Global water demand is estimated to increase by 20 to 30% by 2050. As water use increases as a function of population growth, economic development and changing consumption patterns, the greatest increases in domestic demand should occur in African and Asian sub-regions where it could more than triple. 3.6 billion people worldwide, nearly half the global population, are already living in potentially water-scarce areas for at least one month per year. This could increase to some 4.8 to 5.7 billion people in 2050. About 73% of the affected people live in Asia. Water withdrawals for irrigation have been identified as the primary driver of groundwater depletion worldwide. By the 2050s, a large surge in groundwater abstractions amounting to 1,100 km per year has been predicted, corresponding to a 39% increase over current levels (Burek et al., 2016).

This year’s theme of World Water Day is ‘nature-based solutions for water’. Sustainably used and managed groundwater resources can play an important role in providing the required water for domestic and agricultural use especially in areas where the growth of water use is expected to be high.

Flinders University researchers, Professor Okke Batelaan, Dr Eddie Banks, Dr Michael Hatch, PhD students Somphasith Douangsavanh, Trine Enemark and MSc student Phingsaliao Sithiengtham are at this moment in Laos for a ‘Geoscientists without Borders’ supported project. They train and work together with students-staff of the National University of Laos and staff of the Department of Water Resources. Flinders University is conducting an 8-day field training and investigation in the use of hydro-geophysical techniques to provide tools to investigate and more reliably estimate groundwater resources in the Vientiane Plains, which is an area of population and agricultural growth but is also suffering from long dry seasons and therefore intermittent water supply.

The image above features Geoscientists without Borders Project, Flinders University researchers, Professor Okke Batelaan, Dr Eddie Banks, Dr Michael Hatch, PhD students Somphasith Douangsavanh, Trine Enemark and MSc student Phingsaliao Sithiengtham in Laos for ‘Geoscientists without Borders’ supported the project.

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