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Groundwater, an important freshwater source in all Pacific Island Countries, is particularly abundant in volcanic islands, as demonstrated by the abundance of freshwater springs. These provide freshwater for communities, villages, and the baseflow to the many freshwater streams that abound in the Pacific volcanic islands. Recharge of these volcanic aquifers often takes place at higher elevations in the volcanic edifices, where rainwater inflitrates fractured volcanic rocks and the deep-reaching vertical faulting that characterize volcanic bodies.

Exploitation of groundwater in the Pacific is however, essentially concentrated along the more densely populated coastal areas, targeting highly vulnerable and more easily accessible shallow coastal aquifers. The mostly untapped volcanic aquifers provide a huge potential and opportunity to contribute to socioeconomic development needs of Pacific Island Countries. However, it is also important to recognise the role groundwater has in supporting the ecosystem services that contribute to quality of life and to human well-being in the Pacific. Development of this important and valuable freshwater resource will require a holistic and evidence-based approach to ensure its sustainability.

In this regard, FAO in partnership with Pacific Community (SPC) and the Pacific countries of Fiji, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu, developed the project "Enahncing water-food security and climate resilience in volcanic island countries of the Pacific" to be funded by the Global Environment Facility, under GEF7. This project aims at demonstrating the large potential existing in developing volcanic groundwater aquifers, to enhance water-food security, enhance climate resilience, sustain ecosystem services and relieve pressures on over-exploited coastal aquifers. This will be achieved through assessing and expanding the role of volcanic aquifers, introducing sound groundwater governance frameworks, addressing priority issues of concern through demonstration pilots, and reinforcing institutional capacity.