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Listening to National Water Leaders in Africa

On Wednesday 23 March, Water Policy Group held a High-Level Panel at the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar, Senegal. The panel was chaired by Water Policy Group member and Professor at Arizona State University, Dr Olcay Ünver, and included interventions by Ministers and high-level officials from five different countries.

During the session, Dr Ünver presented the findings of the Global Water Policy Report 2021: Listening to National Water Leaders, and the panel discussed the report’s outcomes and its relevance to their work. Funding issues were discussed in depth, including the difficulties many countries face in reaching Sustainable Development Goal 6 targets due to lack of financing—one of the key findings presented in the Global Water Policy Report. They also discussed the occurrence of mismatched expectations between donors and recipients regarding outcomes from overseas development assistance, as well as how excessive costs may prevent developing countries from benefitting from recent technological advances and innovations.

Another common topic was the significance of capacity, and how capacity issues have many flow-on effects. It was discussed that not only is lack of capacity often a constraint to adopting technological advances, but countries with limited capacities become further disadvantaged in accessing funds as they are unable to meet the selection criteria.

The panel agreed that a ‘business as usual’ approach and gradual change would not be enough to achieve water goals, and that it was disheartening that COVID-19 pandemic had not led to a change of course to fund water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). But despite the current challenges and those that lie ahead, there are many current and future initiatives underway with the potential to affect real progress. Among these, Water Policy Group and AMCOW are working together to produce and disseminate science-based policy advice; Liberia is making progress in enabling legislators to play a key role in mainstreaming WASH into national programs and budget allocations; and The Netherlands—as the co-sponsor of the 2023 UN Water Conference in partnership with Tajikistan—intends to influence a major change of course by mobilising the leaders of the other sectors.

Above all, panelists agreed that activities must prioritise the following: engagement across sectors nationally; higher overseas development assistance and more focussed interventions; effective incorporation of technology and innovation; a common vision and collaboration between state and non-state actors; removal of barriers to integrated solutions; and science-based policy and decision making.

During the session, Dr Ünver also formally launched the 2022 Africa Water Policy Report, prepared by Water Policy Group in collaboration with the African Union’s African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW). Based on the experiences and perspectives of national water leaders from 26 countries of Africa, the Report highlights Africa water issues for political leadership and policy makers’ attention, aiming to support countries in their efforts to achieve better water outcomes.

The panel was attended by:

  • Suleiman Hussein Adamu, Federal Minister for Water Resources, Federal Republic of Nigeria and Vice President of AMCOW for West Africa,
  •           Representative Vicent S.T. Willie, II., Co. Chairman, WASH Legislative Caucus, Republic of Liberia, and
  •           Mr. Henk Ovink, Special Envoy for International Water Affairs, Kingdom of The Netherlands.

The reports are available here.

 

 

2022 Africa Water Policy Report now available

The 2022 Africa Water Policy Report was launched during a High Level Panel at the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar, Senegal on Wednesday 23 March.

Produced in response to a request from the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), the Report highlights Africa water issues for high level political leadership and policy makers’ attention. It aims to support countries in their efforts to achieve better water outcomes, and reflects the opinions, perspectives and experience of Ministers, agency heads, senior officials, and others whose job it is to make difficult decisions on water management in their respective countries.

The Africa Water Policy Report  is based on the experiences and perspectives of national water leaders from 26 countries of Africa. Among them, they have responsibility for achieving ‘sustainable water for all’ for over 900 million people.

In summary, this is what they are saying:

  • The highest water-related risks their countries face are increased demand for water, climate change and associated pressures on water supplies and worsening floods and droughts.
  • The greatest challenge many face is with the prioritisation of water issues within governments.
  • Administrative problems of fragmented water institutions and inadequate data are of as much, if not greater, concern than factors such as public resistance to reforms.
  • COVID-19 has raised the priority and urgency of water and sanitation services.
  • Most Sustainable Development Goal 6 targets are ‘challenging’ or ‘impossible’, with lack of financing and governance problems the main reasons for this. With development assistance, there are concerns about the adequacy of current arrangements.
  • While groundwater is considered by most national water leaders of Africa to be essential to their country’s future water supply, far fewer consider their groundwater is being used sustainably.
  • When compared to the Global Water Survey, national water leaders of Africa are more confident than their counterparts across the world as a whole that their countries are increasing attention to water as the result of COVID-19 and more conscious of the importance of groundwater. They are also more challenged by achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 targets overall and more concerned about risks of increasing demand for water, inadequate data and information, and lack of finance for key SDG 6 targets.

The 2022 Africa Water Policy Report was prepared by the Water Policy Group in partnership with the University of New South Wales Sydney Global Water Institute.

Download the full report here.

Anne Castle on the Colorado River: Can the basin find an equitable solution in sharing the river’s waters?

Water Policy Group member Anne Castle – former assistant secretary of the Interior for Water and Science and a Colorado River veteran – comments in this story by the Water Education Foundation.

She says that in order to avoid a river war, “there is a need for speed in reaching some sort of agreement to share the reduced flows of the river.”

Read the full story here.

Water management challenges revealed in world-first survey

A new report reveals the key issues to improving water outcomes globally, as perceived through the eyes of people with national water leadership responsibility.

Launched on Monday 29 November at the XVII World Water Congress of the International Water Resources Association in Daegu, Republic of Korea, the inaugural Global Water Policy Report 2021: Listening to National Water Leaders is the result of a comprehensive survey of Ministers, top officials and other national water leaders in 88 countries.

Among their many messages, they are saying:

  • The highest water-related risks their countries face are from climate change and associated pressures on water supplies and worsening floods and droughts.
  • The greatest challenges many face are with integration and prioritisation of water issues within governments. Administrative problems of fragmented water institutions are of as much, if not greater, concern than factors such as public resistance to reforms.
  • COVID-19 has not much affected the priority of water and sanitation services.
  • Sustainable Development Goals on water are ‘challenging’ or ‘impossible’ for many, with governance problems and lack of financing the main reasons for this.
  • While groundwater is considered by many national water leaders to be essential to their country’s future water supply, far fewer consider their groundwater is being used sustainably.

The Global Water Policy Report 2021 is based on the experiences and perspectives of people who have responsibility for achieving ‘sustainable water for all’ in their countries across all regions, with a combined population of over 6 billion people – 75 percent of the world’s population.

At the report’s launch, project team chair Mr Tom Soo thanked Ministers, top officials and other national water leaders for sharing their experiences and perspectives.

“Water Policy Group deeply appreciates the time you have contributed to this project, and through that your commitment to better water outcomes everywhere,” Mr Soo said.

The Global Water Policy Report 2021 was prepared by the Water Policy Group in partnership with the University of New South Wales Sydney Global Water Institute.

Download the full report.

Media enquiries: Trish Dalby |  p.dalby@unsw.edu.au

A message for the global water community: If you care about water, you must care about climate change.

National water leaders from 88 countries across all global regions collectively view climate change as the greatest risk to maintaining or achieving good water management in their countries

These results come from a comprehensive survey of national water leaders aimed at better understanding what makes the achievement of sustainable water for all so difficult.

Out of nine different risks, ‘Climate change reducing water supply or increasing flood and drought risks’ is the most frequent ‘first ranked’ risk and features in the ‘top three’ risks for the great majority of countries – regardless of their economic status. Risks of water-based disasters of droughts and floods are the third and fourth ranked, in effect adding to the climate risk profile.

More results of the survey will be included in the 2021 Global Water Policy Report, to be launched by the Water Policy Group and the UNSW Global Water Institute on 29 November 2021 at the XVII World Water Congress in Daegu, Republic of Korea.  You can register your interest in the report here.

 

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Devex has published an op-ed by WPG member Tony Slatyer Water for 1.5 explaining why good water management is essential for reaching Paris Agreement goals.

Water leaders of 67 countries share their experience

Water ministers and other national water policy leaders from all regions of the world have seized the opportunity to contribute to a landmark global report on water policy, set to be released this year.

The inaugural Water Policy Report will reveal the key social, political, financial and structural barriers inhibiting better progress on water issues, as identified through the 2021 Water Leaders Survey.

Those invited to complete the current Water Leaders Survey include water ministers and heads of national water departments and agencies as well as other persons with national water leadership roles.

Tom Soo, Chair of the Water Policy Group project team, said that the response from national water leaders has been very positive.

“Water leaders worldwide have embraced the opportunity to contribute anonymously to the Survey and to share their personal experience,” said Mr Soo.

“Officials responsible for guiding national water management will be able to use the Water Policy Report to determine which of their particular challenges are shared by other countries and, therefore, provide an opportunity to learn from their experiences.”

The survey asks for the opinions and perspectives of national water leaders on many topics within their responsibilities, including risks to maintaining or achieving good water management in their country, how COVID-19 has affected national water outcomes and the relative importance in their country of the five accelerators in the United Nations SDG6 Global Acceleration Framework. The survey also contains questions specific to groundwater challenges, aligning with the theme of the next United Nations World Water Development Report.

“The Water Policy Report will be based on the aggregated responses of national water leaders in each UN geographic region and show challenges and constraints at both the global and regional levels. As such, the Report will provide new and genuine insight about the issues governments are facing in their pursuit to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6”, Mr Soo said.

The project is being led by the Water Policy Group with support from the University of New South Wales Global Water Institute.

The Survey will close in August 2021. National water leaders from all countries are invited to participate.

Questions about eligibility and survey access can be directed to survey@waterpolicygroup.com.

Water Policy Group
8 July 2021

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