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Uniting for Water: Forging Pathways for Sustainable Groundwater Management in Southeast Asia

19 Mar 2024
School of Engineering and Technology

19 March 2024 : To address critical challenges in groundwater management, the Asian Institute of Technology’s School of Engineering and Technology (SET) collaborated with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI Asia Center), Sustainable Mekong Research Network (SUMERNET), and the Center of Research for Environment, Energy, and Water (CREEW) to host a special session at the 2024 Groundwater Symposium in Kathmandu, Nepal, on March 18.

Groundwater symposium group photo

This session served as a platform for experts and stakeholders to share knowledge and engage in discussions aimed at propelling forward-looking solutions for evidence-based groundwater development and management amidst the evolving challenges across Southeast Asia. Chaired by Dr. Mohana Sundaram Shanmugam, Assistant Professor at AIT, and moderated by Dr. Saurav KC, Deputy Executive Director at CREEW and WEM-AIT alumnus, the session focused on enhancing groundwater governance through informed decision-making.

Prof. sangam shrestha

Prof. Sangam Shrestha, Dean of SET/AIT, opened the session by highlighting the critical role of research in informing policy decisions for better governance. Dr. Thanapon Piman, Senior Research Fellow at the SEI Asia Center in Thailand, discussed the importance of collaborative efforts in evidence-based decision-making in groundwater management across Southeast Asian countries.

The session showcased four distinct research initiatives, illustrating the wide range of expertise and innovative methods within the field. Dr. Sanjiv Neupane, CEO of Smartphone 4 Water (S4W) and WEM-AIT alumnus, presented a study titled “Mapping Groundwater Resilience to Climate Change and Human Development in Asian Cities.” Dr. Pragya Pradhan, Senior Research Associate at the Global Water and Sanitation Center (GWSC), AIT, provided insights into “Assessing Groundwater Infrastructure Sustainability in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) of Thailand: A Case of Tak SEZ.” Dr. Saurav KC explored the “Outlook of Groundwater Governance in the Lower Mekong Region,” while Mr. Tungish Uprety, a master’s degree student at WEM, AIT, introduced a framework for “Assessing the State of Transboundary Groundwater Governance in Internationally Shared Aquifer Systems.” These presentations contributed to a richer discussion on sustainable groundwater management strategies.

A major highlight of the session was the soft launch of the Groundwater Governance Assessment Tool (GGAT 1.0), a collaborative project between AIT and CREEW. In his concluding remarks, Dr. Mohana Sundaram Shanmugam thanked all participants for their active involvement and underscored the collaborative efforts between AIT, SEI, and CREEW. He expressed optimism for future research projects and ongoing cooperation to enhance sustainable groundwater management.

Ground water governance assessment tool

The symposium, themed “Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Development and Management of Groundwater,” attracted over 150 participants. It highlighted the pressing need to address groundwater issues. The event was organized by CREEW, Small Earth Nepal (SEN), and the Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Management Board (KVSWMB), drawing both national and international partners’ participation.

Also read: https://www.creew.org.np/groundwater-symposium/