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UNECE Water Convention and Senegalo-Mauritanian Aquifer Basin:

GS Paper 3

Topics Covered: Conservation and Pollution related issues.


The four West African countries- Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania and Senegal- have signed a joint declaration to advance transboundary cooperation in the Senegal-Mauritanian Aquifer Basin (SMAB).

  • They have agreed to establish a legal and institutional framework for cooperation on SMAB.
  • This would be the first such mechanism in West Africa and pave the way for strengthened collaboration on shared groundwater resources worldwide.

current affairs


About SMAB:

  • The Senegalo-Mauritanian aquifer basin is the largest basin in the Atlantic margin of north-west Africa, having an area of 350,000 square kilometres.
  • More than 24 million inhabitants of the region are dependent on it for drinking water and other needs.


Need for:

Senegal, upon accession to the UNECE Water Convention in 2018, had requested for such a declaration.

  • The Water Convention Secretariat, together with the Geneva Water Hub and the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre, subsequently facilitated the declaration.


About the Water Convention:

  • The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) was adopted in Helsinki in 1992 and entered into force in 1996.
  • The Convention is a unique legally binding instrument promoting the sustainable management of shared water resources, the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, the prevention of conflicts, and the promotion of peace and regional integration.



  1. The Water Convention requires Parties to prevent, control and reduce transboundary impact, use transboundary waters in a reasonable and equitable way and ensure their sustainable management.
  2. Parties bordering the same transboundary waters have to cooperate by entering into specific agreements and establishing joint bodies.
  3. As a framework agreement, the Convention does not replace bilateral and multilateral agreements for specific basins or aquifers; instead, it fosters their establishment and implementation, as well as further development.



As of September 2018, it has been ratified by 43 parties, which includes 42 states and the European Union. It has been signed but not ratified by the United Kingdom.


Insta Curious:

The Water Convention is one of five UNECE’s negotiated environmental treaties. Reference: read this.

Sources: down to earth.