The OSS zone of action comprises ten large catchment basins and twelve major transboundary aquifer systems. Out of the region’s 760 billion m3 /year of renewable water resources, more than 320 billion m3/year are shared resources. Fossil waters (North Western Aquifer System and Nubian Sandstone Aquifer), which are of extreme importance and an element of survival for the North Africa region, are also shared resources. Hence, a particular attention should be accorded to dialogue and consultation for the sustainable management of the shared surface and ground water resources in the region.
Unlike for ground water resources, there exist several entities (Niger Basin Authority (NBA), Office de Mise en Valeur du fleuve Sénégal (OMVS), Organisation pour la Mise en Valeur du fleuve Gambie (OMVG) dedicated to the management of shared surface water resources.
Hence, OSS has recognized, since the 2000s, the importance of creating consultation mechanisms for the shared groundwater resources of its zone of action. The first Mechanism concerned the North Western Aquifer System (shared by Algeria, Libya and Tunisia). Created at the technical level in 2006 and evolved into an official mechanism at the policy level in 2008, the North Western Aquifer System (NWSAS) Consultation Mechanism has a technical unit based at OSS and managed by a coordinator designated on a biannual rotating basis.
Recognized at the international level, the experience of the NWSAS mechanism is being replicated as the seven riparian countries sharing the Iullmeden/Taoudeni-tanezrouft Aquifer System (Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Nigeria) adopted in March 2014 a draft Memorandum of Understanding for the management of the aquifer.
OSS aspires to develop similar Consultation Mechanisms for the Senegalo-Mauritanian Aquifer System and the IGAD aquifer systems.
The creation of Consultation Mechanisms follows a particular common approach:
- Construction of common, shared and regularly updated databases
- Development of hydrogeological models and water abstraction impacts simulation models
- Development of map servers
- Strengthening the capacities and raising the awareness of the concerned countries