An improved legal and institutional context with enhanced transparency and accountability could contribute to more effective resource management, and at the same time maximize available opportunities and ensure the fair and equitable distribution of benefits. This would have positive spin- offs at multiple levels, including for human well-being and in particular health and nutrition, livelihoods and economic development.
An improved governance framework will need to address:
Basic principles, such as equity and efficiency in water allocation and distribution, the need for integrated management approaches using the catchment and basin as basic units, and the need to balance the different water uses (eg for socioeconomic development versus maintenance of ecosystem integrity);
The roles of government, civil society and the private sector and their responsibilities regarding management and administration of water resources;
Regulatory regimes (eg water tariffs and subsidies to resource users and polluters) and;
Risk management of water-related disasters, and climate variability and change.
Box 3: Short-term action plan (STAP) for Transboundary Water Resources (TWR)
The NEPAD STAP on transboundary water resource management has five strategic areas:
Facilitating political will and action.
Facilitating resource mobilization.
Developing strategic frameworks, including the medium- to long-term strategic framework (plans that require more time for preparation and development).
At a consultation meeting in June 2003, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and its development partners (including the World Bank), agreed to provide support to NEPAD for the implementation of STAP-TWR. It was also agreed that NEPAD’s involvement in transboundary water resource management would initially focus on the following river basins: Niger and Senegal in Western Africa, Nile in Eastern Africa, Congo and Lake Chad in Central Africa, and Zambezi and Okavango in Southern Africa.
Source: AfDB 2004
An increasing number of countries are developing new policies, strategies and laws for water resource development and management based on the principles of IWRM that aim at decentralization, integration and cost-recovery. The Global Water Programme (GWP), for example, seeks to encourage dialogue among financiers, water professionals, decision-makers and water users at regional and country level. For example, in Ethiopia a process has been initiated to develop an IWRM plan to be implemented in connection with the process of decentralization in the country, and to this end has developed various laws, policies and strategies (GWP 2006). Countries which are undergoing watersector reform have often restructured their institutional and legal frameworks. This may include setting up river and lake catchment and basin organizations.
The multiplicity of transboundary water basins in Africa has led to international cooperation and action plans, such as the establishment of the Africa Ministerial Council on Water (AMCOW) and the Africa Water Task Force to steer the processes. Through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), a short-term action plan (STAP) was prepared, with the aim of strengthening the enabling environment for effective cooperative management and development of transboundary water resources, and of initiating the implementation of prioritized programmes (see Box 3). Also, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Shared Watercourses, and the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) are examples of transboundary cooperation that unlock development potentials and seek win-win benefits.
Though it is necessary to manage water resources at national and sub-regional levels, the management of water resources is best done at local level. Community- based natural resource management – especially water management – plays a critical part within holistic and integrated approaches for solving water scarcity problems. Key components of successful local water management are decentralizing decision making, accountability, and fostering ownership.
Capacity-building needs to be systematically included in IWRM plans. The capacity should be developed at all levels. Tailor-made capacity-building programmes for Africa can be developed and sustained that include institutional, human (technical and managerial), material and technological as well as financial aspects. Creative approaches (these are described more fully in Box 4) can be applied, in particular:
Networking of education and training institutions, nationally and internationally (eg Capacity Building for Integrated Water Resources Management (Cap- Net and GWP);
Establishing and sustaining national and international centres of excellence for critical issues;
Enhancing distance education (eg the United Nations University (UNU) Water Virtual Learning Centre); and
Strengthening partnerships with international training institutions (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Institute for Water Education (UNESCO-IHE).
Box 4: Water sector capacity-building initiatives
Capacity constraints are a severe limitation to realizing the opportunities for development associated with freshwater. Capacity-building is an essential and continual response reflecting society’s need to engage with new ideas and technologies, and to change social and political realities (Cap-Net 2002). Water-sector capacity-building supports the process of transformation for the implementation of integrated water resources management, including water policies and legislation, institutional development and human resources development. The complexity of the IWRM demands a capacity-building approach that addresses a wide range of issues, problems and opportunities across sectors. There is no one correct solution, and thus it is essential to emphasize the importance of local control and local solutions backed by local adaptation of internationally- accepted knowledge and principles.
The Cap-Net capacity-building initiative led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is guided by three principles: local ownership, partnership and motivation from demand. Its African initiatives focus on education and training, institutional capacity and research. Sub-regional cooperation is an important aspect of its activities. It has three Africa initiatives:
West Africa Capacity Building Network (WA-Net).
WaterNet (a Southern Africa network for capacity-building in IWRM).
Nile Basin Capacity Building Network for River Engineering (NBCBN-RE).
The GWP is a working partnership among all those involved in water management including government agencies, public institutions, private companies, professional organizations, multilateral development agencies and others committed to the Dublin-Rio principles. Its mission is to support countries in the sustainable management of their water resources. Specifically, its objectives include identifying gaps and stimulating partners to meet critical needs within their human and financial resources and supporting action at the local, national, regional or river basin level that follows principles of sustainable water resources management.
The Internet-based “Virtual Learning Center for Water” provides distance learning opportunities and information on best water management practices for developing countries. It is a new United Nations (UN) project in which the UNU’s Canadian-based International Network on Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) will play a leading role.
Sources: Cap-Net 2002, GWP 2005 and UNU/INWEH 2001
Opportunities can be increased through establishing partnerships between the public sector and civil society and the private sector. This may improve the implementation of community projects, particularly targeting the poor (see for example, Box 14: Private Sector Participation in the Zambian water supply and sanitation sector).
Political will and a strategic approach to address this issue of capacity strengthening and retention, are essential. At the Pan-African Conference on Implementation and Partnership on Water (PANAFCON 2003), African water ministers recognized that one of the biggest challenges that must be addressed immediately to reach the African Water Vision and the MDGs is human and institutional capacity-building (AMCOW 2003).
For establishing adequate monitoring and assessment programmes that can answer today’s questions and prepare for tomorrow, new and emerging monitoring technologies (eg the European Space Agency (ESA) and the UNESCO Earth Observation for Integrated Water Resources Management in Africa (TIGER-SHIP)) exist that can be exploited (PANAFCON 2003 recommendations). Institutions have been established (eg International Institutions for Geo- Information Science and Earth Observations (ITC)) that can underpin such advances and can provide on-the- ground monitoring, assessment and associated capacity development.