Transboundary Groundwater Management and Regulation: Treaty Practices in Africa

  • María E. Milanés Murcia


Transboundary groundwater represents an essential source of water for the world population. The management of this precious resource is vital to guarantee the sustainability of regions such as the North-Western Sahara in Africa. International water law instruments such as the 1997 UN Watercourses Convention, the 1992 ECE Water Convention, and the 2008 ILC Draft Articles provide the principles and guidelines to manage transboundary aquifers; however, the type of aquifer determines the legal regimen applicable to it. International groundwater connected to a surface water system is covered by the 1997 UN Watercourses Convention, while fossil aquifers are addressed under the 1994 ILC Resolution on Confined Transboundary Groundwater. Africa is home to some 60 international river basins and over 70 transboundary aquifers. Along the continent, an international watercourse crosses a boundary of every country. Transboundary aquifers represent an important source of water in Africa. Huge reserves of groundwater are located in some of the driest parts of this continent. Many of these watercourses and fossil aquifers are the subject of state practices. Moreover, treaties have been developed between some or all of the riparian states. The trend to regulate transboundary groundwater focuses on agreements addressing mechanisms for exchange of information and scientific research, while the actual management of transboundary aquifers is barely reflected in treaty practices. Only few agreements include in their provisions specific regulations to manage transboundary groundwater in Africa.


International agreements of water Management of transboundary groundwater Transboundary aquifers 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • María E. Milanés Murcia
    • 1
  1. 1.SacramentoUSA

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