Sustainable groundwater management strategies in water-scarce countries need to guide future decision-making processes pragmatically, by simultaneously considering local needs, environmental problems and economic development.
In a recently published paper (Insights and participatory actions driven by a socio-hydrogeological approach for groundwater management: the Grombalia Basin case study (Tunisia) , Tringali et al., Hydrogeology Journal) the socio-hydrogeological approach named ‘Bir Al-Nas’ has been tested in the Grombalia region (Cap Bon Peninsula, Tunisia), to evaluate the effectiveness of complementing hydrogeochemical and hydrogeological investigations with the social dimension of the issue at stake (which, in this case, is the identification of groundwater pollution sources).
Within this approach the hydrogeological assessment, targeted to understanding the general aquifer characteristics and to identify the different pollution sources, is associated with a public engagement activity aimed at ascertaining the needs and issues of water end-users while also retrieving information on local groundwater use patterns. Moreover, a stakeholder analysis is proposed to understand how different actors are involved in the decision making process related to groundwater management.
The SNA, performed using the Net-Map toolbox, obtained a preliminary appraisal of the institutional setting in terms of groundwater management relative to the groundwater issues in the Grombalia basin, also highlighting the most influential and central stakeholders able to support the implementation of new groundwater pollution reduction strategies.
Results also reveal the importance of engaging farmers and groundwater end-users, as they can play a key role in implementing successful management practices and effective local actions. In this regard more attention should be paid to scientific outreach targeted at information sharing and promotion of advice to the general public. Moreover, improved communication between scientists and concerned stakeholders would contribute to building trust for a more reliable and sound management of groundwater resources.