Bir al-Nas from theory to practice is now online!
A new paper “Incorporating the social dimension into hydrogeochemical investigations for rural development: the Bir Al-Nas approach for socio-hydrogeology” is now online on Hydrogeology Journal.
The paper proposes a new approach to groundwater investigation, called “socio-hydrogeology”, whose aim is to provide management practices with better support, i.e., robust hydrogeological data coupled with a more comprehensive assessment of the socio-economic implications of the (ground)water problem in question.
In agreement with the general definition of socio-hydrology—the science of people and water (Sivapalan et al. 2012 )—socio-hydrogeology aims not only to study the mutual relations between people and groundwater (i.e., the impact of human activities on the baseline characteristics of an aquifer and the impact of groundwater—its quality, its presence/scarcity—on human well-being and life), but more generally to foster the inclusion of the social dimension in hydrogeological investigations. This means ensuring that the results of scientific investigations are not only based on real needs and local knowledge, but are also adequately disseminated to end users (and polluters). Indeed, hydrogeologists play a key role in socio-hydrogeology as they can act as advocates for groundwater management and protection, able to promote and implement a bottom-up approach embedding local know-how into management strategies.
This newly established field allows hydrogeologists to focus on mutual relations between groundwater and society and to foster both ‘horizontal’ (e.g., between state and non-state actors or across sectors such as agriculture or energy) and ‘vertical’ (between various levels) cooperation.
In this framework the Bir Al-Nas (Bottom-up IntegRated Approach for sustainabLe grouNdwater mAnagement in rural areaS) approach is proposed as an initial attempt to put the concept of socio-hydrogeology into practice through hydrogeochemical and social analysis, the latter performed by means of a stakeholder analysis and structured interviews with the people involved in the groundwater monitoring network.
This novel approach presents a standardized baseline method focused around hydrogeologists, which is easy to understand and implement, flexible, not too time-consuming and offers the chance to implement preliminary public engagement with limited effort.
For more details, please refer to the full paper, available as open access here.
Photo by Re.V 2014