From 15 to 19 September 2014, the 41st IAH international congress 'Groundwater: challenges and strategies' was organized in Marrakesh, Morocco. Tibor Stigter, Senior Lecturer in Hydrology and Groundwater Resources at UNESCO-IHE attended the congress and shares his experiences.
This past week I attended the annual world groundwater congress, this year held in Marrakech. The congress is organized every year by a national chapter of the IAH, the International Association of Hydrogeologists. It was the second time ever that the conference was held on the African continent, and the first time in an Arab country.
Around 600 people attended the conference, which included a large variety of keynotes, oral and poster presentations on key topics such as innovative methodologies in groundwater studies, groundwater and remote sensing, modern geophysics, surface/groundwater interactions, arid zone hydrogeology, groundwater management and groundwater governance, global change and adaptation.
Our in-house partner IGRAC was also present, given their leading activities in global groundwater monitoring and transboundary aquifers, among others.
During the congress meetings of the several IAH commissions were organized, including the Commission on Groundwater and Climate Change, of which I am member. It was held jointly with the UNESCO GRAPHIC (Groundwater Resources Assessment under the Pressures of Humanity and Climate Change) network meeting (www.graphicnetwork.net). During the meeting we discussed the importance of linking groundwater research in climate/global change impacts and adaptation to management, policy-making and education. I briefly presented our Erasmus+ Joint Master Programme on Groundwater and Global Change that we are trying to set up at UNESCO-IHE. I invited several renowned colleagues working actively on this topic worldwide to join the programme as associated partner and/or guest lecturer.
The conference was also very useful to meet new colleagues, discuss possible collaborations, see interesting ongoing groundwater-related (often multidisciplinary) research, have short meetings on future project (HORIZON2020) ideas and revive ongoing collaborations with UCAM university in Marrakech. There was also a session on the UPGro programme (Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor) which unfortunately I could not attend, but I did manage to get some information.
As UNESCO-IHE we are involved in a number of activities for groundwater related research, capacity building and educational projects. Most recently, in collaboration with colleague Paolo Paron and Rural Focus Ltd (Kenya), we were awarded a TMT programme on groundwater resources assessment for the Kenyan Water Institute (KEWI), which we will hold in January 2015. In addition, a project on the role of groundwater in flooding in Colombia has just started, led by Deltares and in which UNESCO-IHE is partner, coordinated by Micha Werner.