Sustainable groundwater development is absolutely fundamental for universal access to safe drinking water. And yet this is poorly understood. Groundwater is a finite resource that in some countries is under serious threat from pollution causing permanent aquifer damage while in others over-abstraction is resulting in reduced water availability.

This RWSN publication is to help create a better understanding of the crucial importance of groundwater and to highlight the risk to its sustainability. It is intended for politicians, policy makers, gov- ernment partners and the public. It advocates responsible ground- water use and cautions against abuse. It encourages users of groundwater to protect and enhance this precious resource for the long term benefit of the most vulnerable communities who primari- ly use hand pumps. Note that this is an update of the 2012 publica- tion of the same name, with minor corrections.

It is vital that we better understand the features and functions of groundwater so that together, we can identify solutions for its sustainable development. If we adopt basic guidelines for using, protecting and enhancing groundwater we can ensure safe and sustainable water supplies for the next generation. This is illustrated in our vision of how rural water supply may look by 2035.

Political commitment, well-planned actions and the allocation of adequate financial and human resources is needed to secure sus- tainable groundwater development worldwide for our and future generations. Are you ready to take on this challenge?

This training manual is also available in French.