The consulting partners’ meeting adopted the repositioning of GWP-SA and Country Water Partners (CWPs) towards SDGs, SADC regional industrialization and job creation.
The strategic focus adopted was on water security, job creation, industrialization and SDG implementation with Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) as a means.
Speaking during the opening of the CP meeting, GWP-SA Chairperson, Dr Kuiri Tjipangandjara highlighted some of the challenges that have made the change agenda necessary and noted that the need to embrace and factor the imperatives of the changing world dynamics is critical.
Dr. Tjipangandjara impressed on the need to strengthen the Country Water Partnerships in order to effectively implement programmes at national levels, given that the country partnerships are key pillars of the Global Water Partnership.
He highlighted some of the major activities of GWP – SA, which included the SADC Water Week, the convening of the SADC River Basin Organisations Workshop and the SADC Water Resources Technical Committee (WTRC), leading on to the High Level Panel on Water.
He lamented some of the challenges that included among others, poor infrastructure condition, skills and capacity constraints, climate change related aspects, youth unemployment, and lack of bankable projects. He noted that the challenge of poor energy availability in the region, limited capacity for research, incessant droughts and floods and donor fatigue in support areas were hindering the regions development and that the change agenda would be able to address most of these challenges.
The objective of the meeting held in Johannesburg, South Africa was to report progress on GWP-SA governance and work programme implementation; present the Change Agenda – Water security, Job creation, Industrialisation & SDGs implementation; present and seek input in the GWPSA/ Africa programme portfolio including climate resilience, SDGs, Water-energy-food nexus and integrated urban water management, and present the financial and audit reports for the last 2 years.
GWP-SA Executive Secretary and Head Africa Coordination Unit, Alex Simalabwi highlighted the critical importance of water dependent jobs, and noted that sustainable economic development depended on sustainable management of water resources.
He underscored the challenge of water scarcity, critical importance of investment in water, which had a multiplier effect on jobs and also impacted on migration patterns and trends.
He underscored the need to take full advantage of technological advancements as well as address the challenge of youth unemployment and the need to enhance investment in water to create jobs. Mr. Simalabwi noted that the biggest challenge of GWP as being lack of clarity on its strategic role, increasing water insecurity, the need for the identification of the necessary niches and ultimately strengthen partnerships and attendant governance systems, to maintain the relevance of the organisation.
Simalabwi noted that the international and regional development context is changing and GWP-SA needs to respond and adapt to new realities at global and regional level.
The main outcome of the CP meetings was a common understanding reached on GWP Change Agenda towards Water, Jobs, Industrialisation and SDGs implementation.
Others were common understanding reached on GWP-SA/ Africa programmes on climate resilience, SDGs, Water-energy-food nexus and integrated urban water management and progress shared on GWP-SA governance and programme implementation.
During deliberations on GWP-SA programmes the CP deliberated on the four main areas. On Nexus Africa programme, partners noted that hydro-potential creates opportunities for energy generation, as well as water supply and sanitation, giving rise to competing, but sometimes complimentary needs.
The partners further noted that there were institutional coordination challenges in some countries, as water resources management fall under several departments across government ministries. However, the meeting was told that some essence of the nexus approach exists in the case where irrigation uses solar power for pumping. Partners recommended that dams be built as multi-purpose installations based on the nexus approach. It was also recommended that effort be made to create a pipeline of bankable projects.
On climate change, challenges were identified included the increasing levels of national disasters, floods, drought etc and the proposed approach was that the response mechanism should be focussed towards development of bankable projects, investment mobilisation and implementation of plans and strategies.
Partners identified a number of opportunities which included; linking to the WEF Nexus Agenda as climate resilience is key in this area; at country level – for Tanzania NAP process and the MOU were considered probable; for Botswana– IWRM Plan implementation and for Zambia - NAP process, the Link Job programme as well as 7th National Development Plan and new dedicated ministry on water.
Further emphasis was placed on the need for GWP to focus on enhancing engagement of countries at Transboundary level – e.g. work with WaterNet to facilitate country engagement in a strategic manner. The weak CWP institutional setup was identified as a gap largely in the manner in which it is structured, which is making it difficult to attract GCF or GEF money.
Partners suggested that CWPs could reposition their roles, renew their Visions and bring in different networks and further that emphasis should be placed on CWP role as Champions of water security which necessitates that they reach out to stakeholders, lobby, create awareness and use available platform for buy-in of private sector, support catchment management institutions and develop capacity of institutions.
On Urban Water and Sanitation in Africa, Partners noted that there are challenges entailing access and affordability to water and sanitation services in municipalities, and in particular for poor people. They further noted challenges of human capacity in the sector, and that opportunities existed in terms of participation of, and engagement with strategic partners at government and local government levels. On a positive note, partners noted that there are various initiatives ongoing in SADC Member States to improve both the infrastructure and governance. In this regard, the Country Water Partnerships are expected to undertake advocacy and facilitate capacity building.
As a follow-up to the partners’ decision on strategic reposition, GWP-SA Board recently appointed experts and special advisors to join GWP-SA and Africa Coordination Unit to help spearhead the change agenda.