Sustainable groundwater irrigation: approaches to reconciling demand with resources

The aim of this paper is to provide a strategic overview of a decade of experience in supporting public administrations in their efforts to confront excessive groundwater resource exploitation for agricultural irrigation. Special emphasis is put on a series of on-the-ground pilot projects mainly in South and East Asia and Latin America, which are profiled through a series of boxes introduced in the paper. In these pilots' appropriate packages of technical, economic, institutional and social measures, in the main selected through use of a 'pragmatic framework' for groundwater resource management, have been introduced with agreement of stakeholders in an attempt to promote more sustainable groundwater use in agricultural irrigation. They have achieved varying degrees of success but do provide hope and orientation for the future in this important aspect of water resource management.