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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  September 2017  /  New approaches to water scarcity

New approaches to water scarcity

Simon Damkjaer on Ambio cover

New approaches to water scarcity

The cover of this month’s leading Journal of the Human Environment, Ambio, features a new paper led by UCL Geography and UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources PhD researcher, Simon Damkjaer.

Co-authored with Professor Richard Taylor, the paper argues that current metrics of water scarcity misrepresent freshwater resources and demand, particularly in low-income countries of Sub-Saharan Africa.

It highlights the critical role of groundwater storage in addressing seasonal or perennial water shortages, even though it is entirely disregarded by current metrics. These are based on mean annual river runoff, masking hydrological variability and subjectively quantifying the socio-economic conditions influencing adaptive capacity. There has been little research evaluating whether such metrics are meaningful.

The need to develop improved hydrological indicators is important if they are to inform progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 6.4: substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity by 2030.

The cover of the issue, taken by Willy Burgess (UCL Earth Sciences), demonstrates the role of groundwater in sustaining dry-season irrigation of boro rice in the Barind area of Bangladesh.

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Ground water irrigation in dry season Bangladesh


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