Although FAO (website: www.fao.org) has been involved in groundwater assessments since the 1960s, followed by groundwater modelling for regional assessment of Africa and by extensive regional groundwater programmes in the Near East and Africa during the 1970s and 1980s, FAO's role in generating and disseminating new knowledge on groundwater is less pronounced than that of UNESCO.
FAO's activities related to groundwater usually reflect an irrigation or drainage perspective. Nevertheless, the organization has contributed to developments in groundwater quality studies and in groundwater management. Furthermore, the long-standing expertise on legal aspects of water has resulted in active involvement in legal and institutional aspects of internationally shared groundwater management.
Many FAO publications are relevant for those interested in groundwater, in particular the publications of the series of FAO Technical Papers/Water Reports (25 reports over the period 1993 through 2003).
A very interesting service to the international community is AQUASTAT, FAO's web-based worldwide water database (www.fao.org/ag/AGL/aglw/ Aquastatweb/Main/html/aquastat.htm). It presents key data on water variables at the country level, such as total internally renewable water resources and their breakdown into groundwater, surface water and 'overlap'; national breakdown of irrigated lands in groundwater-dependent irrigation and surface water-dependent irrigation; dependency on internally generated water resources; and per capita indicators.
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