There are one billion people in the world without access to safe drinking water, while only about 15% of the world's population have enough (and sometimes more than enough) drinkable water.
Governments often struggle to find solutions to water shortage issues. As such, the IAEA is one of the agencies they reach out to, to help them solve their problems by finding more water and managing their existing resources more effectively.
Comprehensive information about water quality, how much there is, where it's located, as well as how this water is replenished, proves invaluable. It is needed to determine how best to allocate water resources to meet the needs of growing numbers of city dwellers, larger populations that need more food to survive, farmers who need water for their crops, and industry.
"The IAEA Water Availability Enhancement Project (IWAVE), which is in its third year, helps IAEA Member States figure out what information they need, and fill those information gaps," says Pradeep Aggarwal, Head of the IAEA's Isotope Hydrology Section.
"If a Member State needs to have its staff trained in the best ways to carry out hydrological assessments, that's what we'll do. If they need an expert to come to their country to provide advice and consultation, then we do that. There are any number of ways that we can, and do, get involved in their water management efforts, enabling national experts to conduct independent assessments, as well as continually update hydrological information," says Aggarwal.
"IWAVE also helps countries interpret water resources data, and use advanced techniques to simulate hydrological systems, which improves their ability to manage water resources," he says.
Oman, the Philippines and Costa Rica are now participating in the pilot phase of the IWAVE project, which should build on, and complement, other international, regional, and national initiatives to provide decision makers with reliable tools for better management of their water resources.
"By becoming more knowledgeable about your own resources, not only do you improve your water use and availability, but you are also better able to deal with and cooperate with your neighbours who share your resources," said Charles Dunning, Water Resources Advisor in the IAEA's Isotope Hydrology Section.