The world celebrates the World Water Day on March 22nd each year.  The 2022 World Water Day theme is “Groundwater: Making the Invisible Visible.”

Groundwater is an immensely important source which, by some estimates, provides at much as half of the world’s drinking water and counts for nearly half of the water used for irrigated agriculture.

With growing pressure on freshwater resources due to increasing pollution and climate change, the need to manage groundwater sustainably can no longer be overlooked. Only by preserving this precious resource can we ensure access to clean water and sanitation for all.

Three out of ten people (2.1 billion people in 2015) do not have access to safe drinking water, six out of ten (4.5 billion people in 2015) do not have access to safely managed sanitation services, and one out of nine (892 million people) practice open defecation.

Improved water resources management and access to safe water and sanitation for all is essential for eradicating poverty, building peaceful and prosperous urban societies, and ensuring that ‘no one is left behind’ on the path towards sustainable urbanization.

Launched on 21 March 2022 at the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar, Senegal, the World Water Development Report 2022 highlights four key messages for the management of groundwater in urban contexts:

  1. Groundwater is a major source of water supply in both large urban centres and rural villages worldwide, and it must be protected. About half of the global population rely on this important resource for basic health and it underlies socioeconomic development, resilience to climate change, and healthy ecosystems.
  2. Groundwater is vulnerable to over-exploitation and pollution – which is irreversible - from agricultural and industrial practice and poor management of sanitation and wastewater. Climate change is exacerbating these threats to groundwater.
  3. There is a pressing need for urban groundwater studies to become a systematic component of urban development plans, both to prevent conflicts between public and private groundwater uses, and to avoid unexpected and costly environmental problems.
  4. There is an urgent need to promote active monitoring and collaboration on urban groundwater by main stakeholders: water utilities, environment agencies and municipal authorities, with the long-term support of academic research centres to improve the understanding of the groundwater resource.

UN-Habitat, the United Nations agency dedicated to human settlements, has been active through multiple projects and partnerships worldwide to deliver on Sustainable Development Goal 6 and 11 to ensure cities and communities are sustainable and resilient.

Through the Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance, UN-Habitat supports over 500 water operators across the globe to improve service delivery and protect water resources, including groundwater, from over-exploitation and pollution. As a co-custodian agency responsible for tracking global progress towards indicator 6.3.1 on wastewater, UN-Habitat is supporting the development and application of monitoring methodologies for wastewater under the Global Expanded Monitoring Initiative of UN-Water. 

To learn more about UN-Habitat is contributing to making water safe and communities accessible across the world, visit.