Desertification as a problem that already exists in Hungary today
“Hungary is a freshwater superpower!” – or at least that’s what Hungarians like to think of their country. However, this statement is only partially true. Let us dig deeper to understand why...
Hungary has access to fresh water from three different sources: precipitation, groundwater resources and rivers. However, less rain is falling each year than what could evaporate, if enough water was available. If there is not enough rainfall, water shortages are often compensated for by underground water sources.
In Hungary, however, most of the wetlands, and floodplains, have been drained, and many forests have been converted into arable land. As a result, groundwater levels in many parts of Hungary are sinking. Rivers bring about twice as much water to the Carpathian Basin each year as precipitation.
But rivers are confined between flood protection dykes, and their water does not spread on floodplains, does not flow into sidebranches, and oxbow lakes. As such, they cannot replenish groundwater resources, and leave the country unutilised. Every year, we lose about 7 km3 of water, which equals three and a half times the volume of Lake Balaton, the biggest lake in Hungary, and also Central and Eastern Europe.
To sum up, Hungary is constantly drying up, the water supplies are dwindling, though it could have plenty of water if properly managed.
Instead of draining water, the solution would be to retain it, in small-scale natural retention systems. In the frame of the successfully implemented LIFE-MICACC project, five Hungarian municipalities were selected as NWRM (Natural Water Retention Measure) pilot projects.
The 5 pilot sites (Bátya, Püspökszilágy, Rákócziújfalu, Ruzsa, Tiszatarján) represent typical examples of water risk connected to small municipalities in Central and Eastern Europe, amplified by climate change. A very important element of the project is to demonstrate which and how ecological-based local ’assets’ are accessible for municipalities to adapt. In many cases, there is no need for expensive investments, as municipalities own and have the right to use different ’assets’. They have institutional, infrastructural, human and cultural assets available, and all these are based on local natural assets.
Do you want to learn more about the “Municipalities as integrators and coordinators in adaptation to climate change” LIFE16 CCA/HU/000115 (LIFE-MICACC) project and Hungary's water issues? Visit the following website: