Sustainable development requires multi-stakeholder partnerships. That is the message of a new report on water security in Africa published by the Global Water Partnership. (Photo: GWP Executive Secretary Dr Ania Grobicki and Hon Buyelwa P. Sonjica, AMCOW President and Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs in South Africa)
The report, Water Security for Development: Insights from African Partnerships in Action, outlines the lessons of a five-year program to develop Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) plans in 13 African countries. It was launched at a High-Level Ministerial Session at World Water Week on 8 September 2010 on Africa Focus Day. GWP Executive Secretary handed over the report to AMCOW President Hon. Buyelwa P. Sonjica who acknowledged the contribution of Global Water Partnership to the process of improving water management in Africa.
“Water, which is central to development, food security and crucial for meeting the MDGs must be managed better. Stakeholder partnerships are foundational to advancing water security, confronting global challenges such as climate change, and accelerating progress towards internationally agreed goals such as the MDGs,” Grobicki said.
“While results differed in each country, in all of them progress was made in highlighting the importance at policy level of the contribution of water resources management to the development agenda,” said Grobicki. “The GWP program gave rise to a multitude of lessons not just relevant to the water sector, but to all social change processes driving sustainable development for the benefit of people and their communities.”
The lessons learned center around the importance of understanding the development context, having a strategic road map, ensuring sustainability and developing capacity. In addition, the report provides policy recommendations for decision-makers that, if applied, could not only strengthen water management but also improve national development processes.
It’s not just what you do,” said Alex Simalabwi, the report’s lead author, “it’s also how you do it. Too many development initiatives are handed down from above by donors or governments with no buy-in from local communities. It shouldn’t be top-down or bottom-up, it should be an equal partnership with multiple stakeholders who all have an interest in negotiating a win-win outcome.”
“The tighter the integration of water management planning with other development activities, the better the outcome,” noted Simalabwi. “Water is connected to everything—food, energy, health, industry—it is the world’s lifeline. So how it is managed in relation to competing uses is what policy-makers have to fix their minds on.”
Six policy recommendations are highlighted in the report. Integrated approaches to water management and other development interventions should:
1. Be undertaken as part of the broader national development planning process. Cross-sectoral coordination and responsibility for integration should be anchored in a government institution with capacity to influence and mobilise other sectors. Higher-level government bodies such as ministries of finance and economic planning, the cabinet and the prime minister’s or vice president’s office are good locations for facilitating integration.
2. Be aligned with high-priority national development processes with broad cross-sectoral and stakeholder support, even if these are outside the water sector.
3. Be flexible, realistic and structured as a continuous processes rather than individual projects.
4. Take into account country differences and accommodate variations of scope and budget, based on the country’s development context.
5. Embed water-related climate change adaptation into water resources management plans and not treat climate change as a separate issue, in order to avoid duplication and fragmentation. The capacity of local institutions must be built to address climate change adaptation as part of the water security agenda in development planning and decision-making processes, in line with national development priorities.
6. Develop economic arguments for financing water resources management. Opportunities for accessing adaptation funds for financing water resources management must be explored.
The report “Water Security for Development” and Dr Grobicki’s statement are available at www.gwp.org.
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A Water Secure World
The Global Water partnership is an intergovernmental organisation of 13 regional Water Partnerships, 74 Country Water Partnerships and more than 2,000 Partner organisations in 153 countries. The GWP network is committed to build a water secure world. www.globalwaterpartnership.org