Water storage gaps are growing worldwide. We need an integrated approach

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For millennia, storing water has been a cornerstone of survival for many societies, especially in dry areas or areas with large climatic variability. In periods of plenty such as monsoons, rainy seasons, and springtime snowmelt, water storage has ensured water availability for drinking, irrigation and, more recently, hydropower generation. It has helped communities to manage not only predictable variation in water availability, but also uncertainty, mitigating some of the worst impacts of floods, droughts, storms and other catastrophic events. Put simply, storage is an essential component of water resource management and contributes significantly to overall water security.

However, in many countries, a growing water storage gap is now threatening to undermine socio-economic development. A new policy paper by the Global Water Partnership (GWP) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) proposes a more integrated approach to water storage: focusing on what ultimately matters – the ability of the water system as a whole to reliably provide different services at a particular time and place. The paper argues that this will make a significant contribution to overcoming the water storage gap.

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