Technology transfer is achieved through coordinated research programmes, and capacity building to meet water resource challenges, including technical cooperation projects, information and support for Member States.

IAEA Programme 2012–2013

Programme 2.3 Water Resources

Rationale: A recent UN assessment of the MDGs noted that sufficient progress is being made towards the goal of "reducing in half the number of people without access to drinking water". Despite this progress, nearly a billion people would still lack access to any source of safe drinking water. Water supply and water quality problems continue to be two of the topmost development needs in Member States due to multiple sources of stress on resources, including greater needs for food production for an increasing population, irrigated agriculture, energy production, and climate variability and change. A key to increasing the availability and sustainability of water is to develop a comprehensive, scientific assessment of surface and groundwater resources.

Progress on another MDG, which calls for stopping the over-exploitation of water resources, also cannot be easily achieved and documented without the availability of credible resource assessments. In spite of the fact that a need for water resources assessment has been recognized for nearly fifty years, comprehensive national assessments (including groundwater) are still lacking, limiting Member States' ability to fully use their water resources. Thus, the lack of credible and scientifically sound water resource assessments needs to be overcome in order to meet the demands for water supply.

Isotope techniques in hydrology — based upon "fingerprints" of radioactive and stable isotopes in water — help to rapidly and cost-effectively assess water resources. Continued Agency activities in water resources management are necessitated by a lack of sufficient capacity in most countries for using isotope hydrology. Programme priorities are to increase capacity and use of isotopes for assessments. Such data and methodologies are rarely possible without the frameworks of cooperation available through the Agency, which is the only international organization with a mandate to promote the use of isotope and nuclear techniques for peaceful purposes.

Sub Programme 2.3.1: Isotope Data Networks for Hydrology and Climate Studies

Objective: To provide Member States access to global isotope data and mapping products, and disseminate isotope hydrology information through publications and training.

Project IAEA Isotope data networks for precipitation, rivers and groundwater

Project Synthesis and dissemination of global isotope data and related information

Sub Programme 2.3.2: Isotope Based Assessments of Water Resources

Objective: To enable Member States to use isotope techniques for local to national-scale water resources assessments.

Project Assessment of groundwater resources at local/national scales

Project Assessment and strategies for management of transboundary aquifers and rivers

Sub Programme 2.3.3: Radioisotope Applications for Hydrology

Objective: To enable Member States to provide analytical services for isotope hydrology at national and regional levels and access technologies such as noble gas isotope analyses.

Project Characterization of fossil groundwater systems using long lived radionuclides

Project Helium and other noble gas isotopes for estimating groundwater recharge and vulnerability to pollution

Responsible/Contact: Isotope Hydrology Section | Last update: 03 February 2012