Deborah Spillane

March 21, 2024

The theme for World Water Day 2024 is ”Water for Peace” – and it makes real sense. Water has the power to support peace or create conflict. In situations where water is scarce, contaminated, or where access is unequal, tensions can escalate within communities and between nations. But when there is equitable access to a safe and sustainable water supply, coupled with adequate sanitation facilities and measures to mitigate water-related risks, water promotes stability and resilience within societies.
On this World Water Day, we remember that access to water is a fundamental human right, and that we need to collaborate to create a positive ripple effect through equitable water management. We understand the importance of water at Ramboll. That is why our approach always focuses on balancing social, environmental, and multi-sectoral water demands.

Did you know?

  • 2.2 billion still live without safely managed drinking water, including 115 million people who drink surface water. (WHO/UNICEF, 2023)
  • Roughly half of the world’s population is experiencing severe water scarcity for at least part of the year (IPCC, 2022).
  • Water-related disasters have dominated the list of disasters over the past 50 years and account for 70 per cent of all deaths related to natural disasters (World Bank, 2022).
  • Transboundary waters account for 60 per cent of the world’s freshwater flows, and 153 countries have territory within at least one of the 310 transboundary river and lake basins and inventoried 468 transboundary aquifer systems (UN-Water, 2023).
  • Only 24 countries report that all their transboundary basins are covered by cooperation arrangements. (UN-Water, 2021).
Source: World Water Day | United Nations
To celebrate World Water Day 2024, we are sharing four Ramboll projects that we believe demonstrate fair and effective water management.
1) Keeping the California-dream afloat
Historically, California is one of the largest and most important of producers of vegetables, fruits, and nuts in the Americas – despite most of the farms being in very dry and water-scarce areas. Recently, the State of Californian recognised that not every place is suitable for farming and that a compromise needs be found to ensure long-term stability. After a series of droughts, the State enacted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) which requires local groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) in high- and medium-priority groundwater basins to develop and implement groundwater sustainability plans.
How we support:
We help create maps of California’s underground water by air in collaboration with SkyTEM and GEI Consultants. The surveys are completed by a helicopter using equipment to transmit electromagnetic waves to the earth to paint a ‘digital picture’ of the subsoil below the surface. These detailed maps of the high-and medium-priority groundwater basins provides valuable data that is used to help improve understandings of large-scale aquifer structures and to support the implementation of SGMA’s important work.
Ian Gottshalk, Senior Project Geophysicist and one of Ramboll’s consultants on this project, says, “It is very hard to get away from geopolitical issues. Everything is interconnected. In this case, it is not just about making people happy, but also about treating the environment with respect. Instead of engineering ourselves to be more comfortable, we should start looking at the natural state of things and how we can work with nature instead of against it.”
2) Managing flood risks in Mombassa, Kenya – and gaining valuable drinking water
The insufficient availability of clean water in Mombasa has many negative impacts. Residents resort to purchasing unsafe water from informal vendors at high prices – and the lack of clean water hampers regional economic development, hindering Mombasa's potential as a crucial port city. Addressing this issue could unlock essential economic opportunities for the region.
How we support:
The solution to Mombasa's water crisis could lie in using water from rainy seasons and floods more effectively. Ramboll, together with local partners, is working to establish a Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) plant. This solution has the potential to yield up to 10 million m3 of clean drinking water annually, significantly enhancing the livelihoods of the Mombasa area.
MAR involves capturing excess runoff water and storing it in aquifers for later use during dry periods. Although this is not a new technique, using floodwater specifically is. This approach focuses on using the ‘problematic’ water from flooding and cloudbursts that would otherwise end up in the ocean, thus increasing the water supply while mitigating flood damage.
3) Creating a sanitation system for Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh
Considered to be the world’s largest refugee settlement, Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar developed in response to the mass migration from Myanmar to Bangladesh after the extreme violence in Rakhine State in August 2017. In the first year alone, around 725,000 displaced civilians sought refuge in Bangladesh, mainly Rohingya Muslims. Poor sanitation continues to be one of the issues facing the inhabitants of the camp.
How we support:
In June 2023, the Ramboll Foundation donated DKK 780,000 to the Swedish Red Cross for a program in Cox’s Bazar, aimed at enhancing community resilience through inclusive water, sanitation, and hygiene (WaSH) services, and environmental conservation. The program uses nature-based solutions and climate-smart technologies to maintain human dignity, health, and environmental quality. It promotes a community-driven approach for locals to recognize, adapt to, and manage environmental hazards and climate change impacts.
“We are grateful to be able to support the work of the Swedish Red Cross in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. The situation is a protracted crisis that requires collaborative and innovative efforts. The competencies within Ramboll and the Swedish Red Cross complement each other well and we get to work together on a project that focuses on our shared values,” says Louise Ulveland, Process Engineer, Ramboll Sweden.
Ramboll employees will offer technical assistance for water and sanitation infrastructure, considering local challenges such as floods, landslides, and groundwater depletion. Additionally, Ramboll will provide expertise to enhance monitoring and sustainability of boreholes, treatment processes, and water distribution systems.
4) Rebuilding a sustainable water supply in Kherson, Ukraine
The Kakhovka Dam in Ukraine was destroyed on June 6, 2023, resulting in significant flooding along the lower Dnieper River in Kherson Oblast. This led to the evacuation of thousands of residents downstream, with floods submerging several villages in both Ukrainian- and Russian-controlled areas. The flooding resulted in human and animal casualties, as well as damage to farmland, homes, businesses, and infrastructure. The dam, previously under Russian military control, is suspected by many experts to have been intentionally destroyed by Russian forces to impede a planned Ukrainian counter-offensive.
How we support:
As part of a larger framework agreement with PlanBørnefonden, the Danish chapter of Plan International, the Ramboll Foundation supports one of several projects in which we are helping to rebuild a resilient and sustainable water supply system in the Kherson region.
For centuries, society has been expanding and growing without regarding nature’s delicate balance, and eventually tipping the scale. At Ramboll, we strive to work in harmony with nature, and using solutions based on nature itself, ensure equitable water management to support a peaceful and prosperous future for everyone.

“Instead of engineering ourselves to be more comfortable, we should start looking at the natural state of things and how we can work with nature instead of against it.”

Ian Gottshalk
Senior Project Geophysicist, Ramboll Water

Want to know more?

  • Martin Zoffmann

    Communication Manager, Globale Practice Water

    +45 51 61 45 75

  • Sara Toustrup Kristensen

    Head of Innovation

    +45 51 61 02 77