The need for proactive aquifer management to become an integral part of development planning in groundwater-dependent cities is discussed against a background of estimations that half the world's predicted population of 6500 million will live in towns or cities by 2010 (UNCHS, 1987). Much of this increase will be concentrated in the developing world, which accounted for 85% of urban population growth between 1980 and 2000. The result is that by the year 2000, about twice as many people were living in cities in developing countries (1900 million) as in the developed world (950 million). Fair access to water supply and sanitation has always been a key issue in expanding cities but the sheer scale and extent of global urbanisation is placing unprecedented pressure on regional water resources around urban
agglomerations (UNEP 1996). A high proportion of these urban dwellers depends on groundwater for day-to-day domestic, industrial and commercial water supply, and nowhere more so than in the developing world. It has been estimated that about one-third of Asia's population (some 1000-1200
million people) and some 150 million Latin Americans are groundwater-reliant(BGS et al 1996). Half of the world's 23 mega-cities as well as hundreds of smaller towns and cities are also groundwater dependent.
Despite the apparently straightforward techniques required, for the hundreds of groundwater-dependent cities in middle and low-income countries, an aquifer protection Action Plan locally developed to help a particular municipality manage its groundwater resource remains an unusual exercise.