‘Closing the Knowledge Gap: Integrated Water Resources Management for Sustainable Agriculture’ was the theme of an international seminar in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 22-26, 2010, which sought to discuss strategies for developing comprehensive information and knowledge support systems in integrated water management for productive agriculture in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states.
Organised by the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Co-operation (CTA) based in the Netherlands and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA), the objectives were to:
- share experiences and information on best practices in integrated water management in the various agro-ecological zones of the ACP countries
- identify information and communication needs and requirements and propose guidelines for the implementation of integrated water management activities and programme
- encourage participating organisations to adopt improved knowledge on integrated water management communication methods and strategies for reaching out to their clients
- mobilise the stakeholders to advocate for increased public investments for sustainable water resources management.
Regional input into the seminar was provided by Dr. Leslie Simpson - Natural Resources Management Specialist of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and Ms. Avril Alexander - Regional Coordinator of GWP Caribbean who were both members of the seminar’s Steering Committee which was responsible for developing the theme and content for the seminar including the selection of papers and presentations. Ms. Alexander also gave remarks on behalf of the Caribbean at the seminar’s opening ceremony.
Four working groups were established to discuss different aspects of the main theme, specifically:
- Water scarcity adaptation strategies for vulnerable rural communities
- Water storage for climate change adaptation (recovering rainwater)
- Water governance and water sector reform
- Equitable distribution of water rights and access (water, poverty and gender)
Ms. Alexander and Dr. Simpson served as joint group leaders of the working group on “Water governance and water sector reform” and were responsible for guiding the group discussion on the thematic focus and ensuring delivery of the seminar outcomes.
Discussions in all working groups were aimed at generating four (4) specific outcomes, which were to:
- Identify best practices, innovations and practical experiences and options for scaling these up and out in order to improve agricultural productivity and growth in the ACP
- Identify capacity building needs and requirements
- Develop practical proposals and ideas for Action-research to bridge knowledge gaps
- Develop a Community of Practice of experts that will serve as ambassadors and advocates for IWM for improved agricultural productivity
A summary of the seminar papers and discussions are being compiled and published by the CTA along with a policy brief based on the recommendations arising out of the seminar. Further information can be found on the CTA website at www.cta.int.