copy the linklink copied!Chapter 1. Pressing and emerging water risks in Argentina

This chapter introduces basic facts and data on the main characteristics, challenges and uses of water in Argentina, linking with economic development, social inclusion and environmental performance. It pays particular attention to risks of “too much”, ‘too little” and “too polluted” waters, as well as ensuring universal coverage of drinking water supply and sanitation services. The chapter covers how megatrends related to the macroeconomic downturn, climate change, urbanisation and demography, exacerbate current water challenges, but also provide opportunities to drive inclusive and sustainable growth in Argentina.


copy the linklink copied!Key data

Argentina is endowed with abundant water resources and home to one of the world’s largest water basins - the Río de la Plata River Basin – but these resources are unevenly distributed. The average annual water flow amounts to 26 000 m3/s, with a heterogeneous spatial distribution due to geological and climactic factors: 85% of the total surface water available in Argentina is found in the territory of the Río de la Plata River Basin, where the majority of the country’s population and economic activity are concentrated (MCTeIP, 2012). On the other hand, in very arid and semiarid provinces, such as San Juan or La Rioja, there is very little annual rainfall with less than 1% of available surface runoff (MCTeIP, 2012).

Groundwater provides an important source of water for both rural and urban populations as well as for agriculture, but increasingly at risk due to pollution. Argentina is home to one of the world’s largest aquifers, the 1 200 000 km² Guaraní aquifer, 19% of which (225 500 km²) is within Argentina’s jurisdiction. It has many large, exploitable aquifers, especially in the western provinces, which depend particularly on this supply source due to the aridity of the area and strong agricultural activity (e.g. Mendoza hosts 360 000 irrigated hectares, or 25% of total national irrigated land) (FAO, 2015). According to estimates, there is an annual exploitable availability of approximately 16 000 m3 in Argentina’s aquifers. The contribution of groundwater to total water withdrawal is approximately 30% (FAO, 2015), but in addition groundwater also ensures a multi-annual and inter-annual regulation of water resources, resulting in increased availability of water in times of drought. However, the use of these aquifers is limited due to their quality (many are affected by human and/or natural pollution) and vulnerability (overexploitation of the resources) (FAO, 2015).

Total water abstraction amounted to 4.3% of the total available freshwater (1 195 m3/s) in 2011. Of this, agriculture accounted for 74% of total water withdrawal, human water supply for 15% and industry for 11%. However, water abstractions have increased by over 30% since 1995 (FAO, 2015), reflecting both population growth and economic development and difficulties to decouple water demand from macroeconomic and demographic patterns.

The average annual availability of surface water per inhabitant is approximately 20 400 m3/s (40 117 096 inhabitants from the 2010 Census), which is far above the water stress threshold of 1 700 m3/s per inhabitant per year (MCTeIP, 2012). However, water consumption and distribution is unequal throughout the territory, with more than 90% of the population living in urban centres of more than 10 000 inhabitants (MCTeIP, 2012). The Secretary of Infrastructure and Water Policy estimates that population served by the 20 largest water services providers consume an average of 299 litres per day per capita, and only 27% is micro-metered.

copy the linklink copied!Water risks hinder inclusive and sustainable development

Water and the economy

Argentina’s economy faces grave threats from periodic episodes of “too little” and “too much” water. Flooding is the greatest natural disaster threat in Argentina, causing 60% of all natural disaster events and 95% of economic damages due to disaster events (World Bank, 2016a). Droughts have also had a significant impact on Argentina’s economy in recent years, in particular in the agricultural sector.

Due to favourable geological and climatic conditions, Argentina’s agricultural sector is one of the most important economic sectors of the country. According to World Bank data, in 2016 the agricultural sector accounted for 6.4% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), whereas the global average for this same period was 3.6% (World Bank, 2016b). Argentina’s agricultural sector has grown considerably in the past decades, in terms of both the quantity of crops produced and the amount of cultivated land. Argentina is also one of the most productive global crop exporters (Figure 1.1), with an average of 100 million tonnes of seeds produced annually (SAyDS, 2015). The area sown with the four main export crops (soybean, sunflower, corn and wheat) occupies approximately 31 million hectares of land (MCTeIP, 2012) out of the total of 40 million hectares used for agriculture in 2012 (FAO, 2015). Approximately 54% of Argentina’s total land surface supports agriculture (World Bank, 2017a).

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Figure 1.1. Percentage of world exports represented by Argentina, 2017
Figure 1.1. Percentage of world exports represented by Argentina, 2017

Notes: In 2017, Argentina was the world leader in exports of soy bean oil (48% of the global market), peanut oil (36%) and oilcake (15%). It was also the second world exporter of wheat flower (7.7%); third of soy bean (4.9%); fourth of maize (15%) and sunflower seed oil (6.3%); fifth of unmilled barley (6.2%); and sixth of miscellaneous wheat (7.5%).

Source: Simoes, A.J.C and Hidalgo, C.A (2011), The Economic Complexity Observatory: An Analytical Tool for Understanding the Dynamics of Economic Development. Workshops at the Twenty-Fifth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence (2011), Exporters by product dataset, 2017, available at:

Argentina’s exports structure, highly concentrated and dependent on the production of agricultural commodities, creates a strong dependency on water resources for agriculture. Out of the 2.1 million hectares currently irrigated, 65% use surface water and 35% use groundwater (FAO and PROSAP, 2015; SIPH, 2016a). This dependence on agriculture also makes the country extremely vulnerable to drought and flood risks. When these disasters occur, the agricultural sector can suffer losses that contribute adversely to the country’s overall economic situation. In 2017-18, Argentina experienced one of the worst hydrological droughts in 50 years, with an estimated economic impact of around 2% of GDP (OECD, 2019). Production of maize and soybeans fell by 21% and 33%, respectively, compared to the previous year. These losses have also had direct effects on crop value chains (Bolsa de Cereales de Rosario, 2018). Moreover, the importance of water for agriculture is not only related to irrigation. Extensive rain-fed agriculture requires good soil management, especially in flat environments, such as the pampean region and the province of Chaco, where vegetation and soil are crucial for hydrological regulation.

At the same time, Argentina is one of the 15 countries in the world most affected by catastrophic floods. According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, 39% of the disasters that occur in the country are floods, with such events having the most material impact in terms of people and assets affected in Argentina. Since 1957, 12 severe floods have caused casualties and great losses in agricultural production, infrastructure, private goods and economic activities. The World Bank estimates that, in 2012, floods caused losses of approximately USD 3.4 billion (equivalent to 0.7% of GDP) (World Bank, 2014).

Water and the environment

Argentina faces surface and groundwater quality challenges, which represent an increasing threat to the ecological status of water resources and a sustainable pattern of water supply.

The primary source of pollution in surface water bodies is the discharge of household and industrial wastewater effluents without adequate treatment. It is estimated that in 2015 only 58% of urban wastewater was collected and that only between 15% and 20% was treated before disposal (SIPH, 2016b). According to a recent survey from the National Directorate for Water Supply and Sanitation (Dirección Nacional de Agua Potable y Saneamiento, DNAPyS), only around 36% of total wastewater was treated in 2018. The main pollutants found in surface waters are organic matter, macronutrients, bacteria and other microorganisms, as well as organic and inorganic toxic substances. Circumstances such as the existence of cesspools filled with water containing faecal matter coupled with intensive urban and industrial development have led to very serious pollution of tributaries.

Unsustainable agricultural practices, deforestation, use of agrochemicals and land-use changes, particularly the impact of urbanisation, also affect the water balance and the quality of water resources (MCTeIP, 2012). For instance, the increase in the quantity of suspended solids due to greater water erosion because of deforestation, overgrazing or bad management of arable land is an issue in the province of Misiones and some of the surrounding areas of the Bermejo River Basin. On the other hand, pesticides have been detected in the waters of the Uruguay River. Other surface water reservoirs such as the Río Hondo reservoir in the province of Santiago del Estero or the San Roque and Los Molinos Lakes in the province of Córdoba are polluted as a result of the discharge of untreated sewage water, originating in nearby urban and industrial settlements. Well-known cases of water pollution are located near large urban areas, such as Matanza Riachuelo and Reconquista in Buenos Aires, Salí-Dulce in the province of Tucumán, or Suquía in the province of Córdoba. Serious deficiencies in the management and disposal of urban solid and industrial toxic waste, particularly in urban peripheries, significantly contribute to this situation (MCTeIP, 2012).

In semiarid and arid areas, inefficient irrigation and drainage systems are the source of salinisation of water resources and land, representing a serious threat to the sustainability of the agricultural sector given the large share of agricultural land in these conditions. According to estimates, 23.5% of irrigated land is subject to some degree of salinisation and/or sodification and others are in danger of being severely affected (FAO and INTA, 2015).

In groundwater bodies, quality problems are associated with pollutants of natural origin, namely arsenic and fluorine, as well as anthropogenic contaminants such as nitrates, faecal contaminants, pesticides and various pollutants of industrial origin. Pollution from natural arsenic in aquifers is especially serious in several provinces, notably those with higher rural populations. Levels of arsenic that significantly supersede thresholds recommended by the World Health Organization have been detected in drinking water supply sources in the northern and central regions of Argentina (Garzonio and Nuñez, 2012). According to some estimations, there are 435 000 km2 of land (SIPH, 2016b) and 4 million people affected by arsenic in Argentina (RSA and CONICET, 2018). This type of pollution is a public health issue in Argentina due to arsenic’s high risks to trigger carcinogenicity and neurotoxicity. However, the quantity and quality of information to evaluate the influence of arsenic on public health is heterogeneous. The Secretariat of Infrastructure and Water Policy has launched a study to analyse its effects and develop a national risk map (SIPH, forthcoming 2020).

Pollution of groundwater sources of water due to bad aquifer management (generalised overexploitation and localised overextraction as well as a lack of protection and conservation measures) and the deficiencies in the sanitation systems resulting in direct contamination of water supply sources are considered the most important environmental problems in Argentina (MCTeIP, 2012). Substituting groundwater resources with surface water can help limit exposure to natural contamination. However, with increasing surface water pollution, this option is less feasible and water treatment prior to consumption actually becomes mandatory.

Water and social inclusion

The gap in access to and quality of drinking water supply and sanitation services is also significant especially considering Argentina’s income levels. In 2015, Argentina’s gross national income (GNI) per capita was USD 12 150 (World Bank, 2015). During that year, access to drinking water supply in urban areas was estimated at around 87% and sewerage at around 58.2% (Figure 1.2). In rural areas, only 54.7% of the population had access to drinking water in 2015 and 6.4% to sewerage (SIPH, 2016a) (Figure 1.3). This contrasts with neighbouring Chile, a country with slightly higher GNI per capita rates (USD 14 310 in 2015), but that also made significant gains in achieving universal coverage (in 2017, drinking water coverage amounted to 99.97% in urban areas, 97.15% of households had sewerage, and wastewater treatment reached 99.97%; SSIS, 2017).

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Figure 1.2. Water and sanitation services coverage in Argentina, 1991-2015
Figure 1.2. Water and sanitation services coverage in Argentina, 1991-2015

Sources: INDEC (2019), “Censo Nacional de Población, Hogares y Viviendas (1991-2001-2010)”, oficial website, (consulted in May 2019) ; SIPH (2016a), “Plan Nacional de Agua”,; SIPH (2016b), Plan Nacional de Agua Potable y Saneamiento, 2016,

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Figure 1.3. Evolution of water and sanitation coverage by network in rural areas in Argentina, select years
Figure 1.3. Evolution of water and sanitation coverage by network in rural areas in Argentina, select years

Source: SIPH (2016a), “Plan Nacional de Agua”,

This gap in access to and quality of drinking water supply and sanitation services not only occurs in respect of the divide between rural and urban settlements; it also has a material socio-economic dimension, affecting with more intensity the most vulnerable sectors of Argentina’s society. In this sense, population with unsatisfied basic needs (NBI)1 register an access to drinking water of 73%, compared to 85% for the rest of the population. Similarly, population with unsatisfied basic needs register an access to sewerage of 31.2%, compared to 56.3% for the rest of the population (SIPH, 2016a).

As a result of difficulties in accessing drinking water, rural regions and informal urban settlements often rely on wells and boreholes to access underground water sources, which present associated health risks arising from water-borne diseases (Monteverde, Cipponeri and Angelaccio, 2018) due to the presence of arsenic affecting 17 out of 23 provinces2 and approximately 4 million inhabitants (10% of the country’s population) (RSA and CONICET, 2018). The combination of these factors results in an increased risk of contracting water-borne diseases from polluted water sources, especially from the discharge of untreated domestic wastewater effluents into rivers and lakes and the infiltration of excrements from septic tanks and poorly maintained sewerage networks. Though numbers vary, the most recent survey carried out by the DNAPyS in 2018 estimates that 36% of the wastewater collected receives either primary or secondary treatment. In 2012, 265 deaths to diarrhoea in Argentina were attributed directly to lack of adequate access to safe drinking water and sanitation and/or good hygienic practices (WHO, 2014).

At the same time, vulnerable communities are also more exposed to extreme climate events such as flooding than their relatively more well-off counterparts. It is estimated that in the provinces of Chaco, Corrientes, Entre Ríos, Formosa and Misiones, more than 1.5 million people are at risk, particularly because of precarious settlements in river and stream banks and other flood-prone areas. Of that total, more than 70% lack basic sanitation infrastructure as well as access to sewage in their homes and 30% lack access to safe drinking water (SIPH, 2016a).

copy the linklink copied!Exogenous factors affecting water management in Argentina

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Figure 1.4. Exogenous factors affecting water management in Argentina
Figure 1.4. Exogenous factors affecting water management in Argentina

Argentina’s federal system

Argentina has a federal and multi-level governance system whereby most legal powers for natural resources management are devoted to the provinces. The current institutional setting for water services provision and water resources management is rooted in policy choices and reforms dating back to the 1980s and 1990s. In 1980, the provision of drinking water and sanitation services was transferred to the 23 provinces, with the decentralisation of the state-owned enterprise Obras Sanitarias de La Nación (ONS). In 1994, Argentina underwent a constitutional reform that introduced an environmental clause (Article 124) acknowledging a historical right whereby the 23 provinces and the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires own the water resources and have jurisdiction over them, including for interjurisdictional rivers, as well as responsibility for the provision of water services within their boundaries.

The federal structure of the country offers opportunities for multi-level governance and place-based policies that are currently untapped. Federalism delineates rights, responsibilities, powers and functions between the national government and the provinces, and creates the potential for targeted localised action by provinces, which can also be underpinned by the financial support of the national government. This strong potential for multi-level partnership can aid in developing a shared forward-looking national strategic vision underpinned by the necessary investments in hard and soft infrastructure.

Macroeconomic environment

Argentina’s current macroeconomic environment limits the opportunities for the much-needed, large-scale public investment in water infrastructure. After a favourable period of stability in 2016 and 2017, the abrupt macroeconomic shift in 2018 resulted in a high cost of borrowing, due to changes in country risk. The currency has depreciated sharply (from 19 Pesos/USD in January 2018 to 57 Pesos/USD in October 2019, a nominal depreciation of 67%), and as a result gross public debt reached 81% of GDP in the second quarter of 2019. In addition, the market-perceived risks of Argentinian assets have spiked (2200 basic points in October 2019). Moreover, the loan from the International Monetary Fund of USD 57 billion approved in June 2018 had strict fiscal requirements attached to it, including a zero deficit for 2019, which creates very challenging investment conditions for the government.

The fluctuating nature (recurrent cycles of growth and recession) of the Argentinian economy is unlikely to change in the short term. For instance, the economy recently fell into a recession after the financial turmoil in 2018. GDP is projected to decrease by 2.9% and 1.5% in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Similarly, gross investment is expected to decrease by 16% in 2019 and to grow by 2.3% in 2020 (OECD, 2019). Exports continue to lead the economy, now supported by the weaker real exchange rate and strong harvests. Yet, volatility also affects exports. They remained the same in 2019 (year over year) and grew by 22.6% in the middle of the recession, although it is projected that the slowdown in economic activity and international trade will affect also the exports.

This context provides an opportunity to decouple water policy from the broader macroeconomic outlook. There is momentum to actively explore opportunities for efficiency gains within the country and, specifically, within the water sector – to do more and better with less. The limited funds to conduct large-scale investments should generate incentives to make any investment sustainable on a highly efficient basis and, most importantly, to find ways to operate and maintain existing assets in more efficient ways (without compromising, and potentially improving, current levels of service). An example of such an approach could be deferral of capital expenditure in favour of finding operating innovations and efficiencies, or setting up demand-side measures. For instance, provided large-scale investments to close evident gaps are not possible, investing in the production of energy and biogas from wastewater effluents can help reduce operating costs. Similarly, nature-based solutions (i.e. conservation, management and restoration of water-related ecosystems or green urban infrastructure) can also be explored on a case-to-case basis, as they can be an alternative way of reducing costly investments.

Urbanisation and territorial development

Rapid urbanisation in Argentina has been a major contributor to continuing gaps in access to quality water services. Almost 92% of Argentina’s population lives in urban areas, up from 73% in 1960, and over 40% live in population centres of more than 1 million inhabitants (World Bank, 2017b). Moreover, population increased by 12% between 2001 and 2010, mostly in urban areas. Cities of over 100 000 inhabitants contributed to 57% to this population growth, of which the Greater Buenos Aires area (GBA) accounted for 34%. Within the GBA, the area of La Matanza has contributed most to this urban growth, with over 42% of total growth (Figure 1.6). A lack of decent housing for low-income households has resulted in illegal occupation of non-serviced land without basic services in the peripheries of large cities, particularly low-lying and flood-prone land.

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Figure 1.5. Urban population growth according to district size, Argentina
Figure 1.5. Urban population growth according to district size, Argentina

Note 1: GBA: Greater Buenos Aires refers to the urban agglomeration comprising the autonomous city of Buenos Aires and adjacent 24 districts in the province of Buenos Aires

Note 2: Numbers in bold refer to the amount of urban centres in Argentina according to size. For instance, in Argentina there are 957 cities with 2.000 to 20.000 inhabitants

Source: SIPH (2016b), “Plan Nacional de Agua Potable y Saneamiento”,

Large urban growth in cities of over 100 000 inhabitants has increased the water deficit in areas of low service coverage. Rapid urbanisation can put pressure on existing drinking water supply and sanitation infrastructure, including on stormwater infrastructure, and can increase service deficiencies. This problem is aggravated by the fact that in areas of coverage, wasteful water use habits are prevalent due to lack of consumption measurement.

This rapid urbanisation disproportionately affects low-income households, due to increasing land prices and ineffective land-use regulations. The average price of a 250 m² lot with legal title and access to sewerage is around 19 times greater than the annual disposable income of a low-income family (Monkonnen and Ronconi, 2013). As a result of gaps in access to decent housing, it is estimated that roughly one-fifth of the households living in the periphery of large Argentinian cities have illegally occupied land for housing, almost half do not have a full legal title and only a third have access to sewerage (Monkonnen and Ronconi, 2013).

As these gaps persist, there is a correlative increase and consolidation of a greater number of precarious establishments and houses that require complete adaptation (or complete rebuild) to be able to deliver quality water services. In fact, in the Greater Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires, 13.4% of homes have been considered irrecoverable (SIPH, 2016b) in terms of infrastructure for water services and sanitation. Achieving universal access to water services and water quality as well as sanitation not only depends on institutional capacity and financing, it also depends on improving the aptitude of urban design and housing. In order to achieve the sanitation objectives, users must be able to afford the installation costs of sanitation infrastructure that allows homes to be connected to water and sewerage services, taking into account that the deficit in universal access resides for the most part in lower income areas.

Though initially most urban settlements were built in high-altitude areas, the growth experienced during the dry period in the first half of the 20th century resulted in cities being expanded in low-lying and flood-prone lands. Moreover, change of land use in flood-prone areas, i.e. from natural vegetation to urban fabric, also contributes to increasing the intensity and impact of floods. As a result, at least 32 cities in Argentina have been affected by flooding and more than 1 million people are exposed to this risk (Kullock, 2007). Flooding in urban areas has led not only to large economic losses, but also to tragic consequences in the form of numerous deaths and missing persons, such as those that occurred in the city of Santa Fe in 2003 and in La Plata in 2013. These increasingly affect lower income groups who are more likely to lack access to safe drinking water and sanitation as well as decent living conditions.

Climate change

Climate change is a compounding factor that exacerbates water challenges. A combination of factors, such as higher average temperatures over the past 70 years and the recent La Niña meteorological event, gave rise to the 2017-18 drought. There will likely be an increased incidence of droughts in some parts of Argentina, and at the same time more intense and frequent rainfalls in others that will shift further water availability, uses and demand (IPCC, 2014). For instance, more water may be required to irrigate land, while at the same time evaporation in water bodies and reservoirs is likely to intensify with climate change effects.

Other expected impacts of climate change in Argentina include:

  • Increase in the average rainfall in almost the entire country, although with inter-annual and interdecadal variations. The biggest changes were recorded in the east of the country and in semi-arid areas, with the result of facilitating the expansion of agriculture to the north and the west (SAyDS, 2015).

  • Decrease of average rainfall in the Andes region, affecting the availability of water in the high-altitude basins of the rivers of the regions of northern Mendoza and San Juan (SAyDS, 2015).

  • Increase of the frequency of extreme rainfall in much of the eastern and central parts of the country, magnifying urban flooding, particularly in areas where drainage and urban planning are lacking or existing systems lack proper implementation and/or maintenance (World Bank, 2016b).

  • Increase of the duration of the dry winter periods in the west and north of the country, impacting water availability and creating more favourable conditions for grassland fires as well as greater stress on cattle (SAyDS, 2015).

The agricultural sector is one of the sectors that will most suffer from the effects of climate change because of its strong dependence on water resources. The intensification of extreme water disasters such as rains, flooding, droughts and heat waves due to climate change will most probably amplify the inter-annual variability of crop production. Furthermore, the degradation of the environment in terms of the chemical composition of the land and the water, as well as the loss of biodiversity and the quality of the soil, will inevitably increase the agro-ecosystem’s vulnerability to seasonal variability.

Although Argentina has launched some initiatives to adapt to climate change (Box 1.2), it still lags behind in terms of adaptation readiness. According to the World Bank (2018), Argentina is less vulnerable to climate change than most countries (it is ranked 40th out of 181 countries in terms of vulnerability), but its performance in reducing vulnerability, increasing readiness and adaptive capacity is lower than in other country peers (Colombia, Peru, Chile) (Figure 1.7). Among other reasons, it is claimed that the lack of an efficient business environment makes the country less ready than most of its peers to effectively leverage investments for adaptation.

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Box 1.1. Argentina’s National Cabinet for Climate Change

The issue of climate change has gained much traction in the Argentinian political agenda. In 2016, a National Cabinet for Climate Change comprising high-level representation from 17 key areas1 of the government was established (Decree 891/16) under the co-ordination of the Secretariat of the Environment and Sustainable Development, and in consultation with the Federal Council of the Environment (COFEMA). The cabinet’s activities have, in the past, focused on mitigation, but are increasingly covering adaptation measures. During its first two years of operation, the cabinet developed a National Mitigation Plan to support compliance with international agreements on greenhouse gases emissions. A National Adaptation Plan is under development to identify sectors, socio-economic systems and geographical regions that present a greater degree of vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, and prioritise adaptation measures. In addition, recent years have seen Argentina’s disaster response shift towards greater prevention. The National System for Integrated Risk Management (SINAGIR), a programme that promotes the joint response of all state agencies to various crises and emergency situations, was launched in February 2017 (Law 27.287). A Climate Change Risk Map System (SIMARCC) was also released to identify territories and population that are most vulnerable to the threats of climate change.

1. Environment, agribusiness, science and technology, culture, defense, social development, education, energy and mining, finance, economy, interior, public works and housing, production, foreign affairs, transport, tourism, health, security.

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Figure 1.6. Readiness to deal with climate change risks
Figure 1.6. Readiness to deal with climate change risks

Source: World Bank (2018), Argentina: Escaping Crises, Sustaining Growth, Sharing Prosperity,, reprinted from University of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN),

Digitalisation and technology

The uptake of technology could help improve many of the problematic aspects in the management of water resources and access to quality services for a larger proportion of the population. For instance, ICT systems and other cartographic applications could help better predict water risks and disasters, aiding water authorities in designing and implementing improved forward-looking safety protocols.

To maximise the potential of and opportunities from digitalisation, the national government is therefore working towards collecting more and better information and sharing it with other territorial authorities. The government aims to collect, process and stock basic data from the national water network for use by national, provincial and interjurisdictional water and environmental organisations to correctly design and build water infrastructure as well as improve the efficiency and sustainability of water consumption in its multiple facets. The availability of data is expected to enlarge significantly through both the installation of more measuring stations as well as the integration of information gathered by national, provincial and interjurisdictional bodies within the Integrated Hydrological Database, with the aim of further facilitating the exchange of information between territorial entities.

The Digital Cartography and Georeferenced Systems project, initiated in 1995, aims to use state-of-the-art computer tools in order to structure and manage information and data collected and produced by the national government and to provide technical assistance to the provinces. The integration with other cartographical databases from other national ministries, such as the GIS tool for Water Quality of the Secretariat of the Environment and Sustainable Development, can further expand the evidence base for decision making.

Nanotechnology shows the potential for cheaper, more effective, efficient and long-lasting alternatives in order to treat Argentina’s water resources and rid it of contaminating substances such as bacteria, viruses, arsenic, mercury, pesticides and salt without the need of intensive labour, capital, land and energy in comparison to traditional treatment methods. However, more research is required in order to better determine the real impact of the use of nanotechnology for the treatment of water on the environment and on human health.

copy the linklink copied!The National Water Plan as a response to water risks

The 2015-2019 administration has made a significant step towards setting a nationwide plan to deal with water-related risks as part of a long-term vision. Launched in 2016, the National Water Plan (NWP) sets ambitious objectives to place water at the core of economic and social development. By 2023, the national government aims to achieve universal access for drinking water supply and 75% for sewage connections. The NWP also aims to increase protection against floods and droughts through strategic actions that combine both hard infrastructures, such as building flood protection infrastructure in cities or increasing the number of dams, along with better early warning and information systems. In addition, the NWP seeks to support the irrigation needs of the agricultural sector by expanding the cultivated area by 300 000 ha by 2022 (a total increase of 17%). Finally, the NWP is intended as a commitment towards achieving the Agenda 2030, in particular Sustainable Development Goal 6 “Clean water and sanitation”, to which Argentina committed for 2030. The NWP is further addressed in sections 2.1. and 2.3. of chapter 2 of this report.


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← 1. According to the Argentinian Statistical Office (INDEC), a home has unsatisfied basic needs (NBI) if it presents at least one of the following deprivations: NBI1) inconvenient-type housing (i.e. precarious housing); NBI2) households without a bathroom; NBI3) critical overcrowding (more than three people per room); NBI4) households with school-aged children (6-12 years old) that are not schooled; NBI5) households with four or more persons per employed member and in which the head of household has a low level of education (two years or less at primary level).

← 2. Salta, Jujuy, Tucumán, La Rioja, Catamarca, San Juan, Chaco, Santiago del Estero, San Luis, Córdoba, Santa Fe, Mendoza, Entre Ríos, La Pampa, Neuquén, Río Negro and Buenos Aires reaching until the Atlantic coast.

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Chapter 1. Pressing and emerging water risks in Argentina