Located in northern South America, northern Suriname is a cultivated lowland coastal area where most of the population of approximately 500,000 live. Southern Suriname consists of tropical rainforest and sparsely inhabited savannah along the border with Brazil, covering about 80% of Suriname's land surface.
A significant step
One of the main speakers at the Water Forum Suriname (WFS) launch, Ms. Avril Alexander, Regional Coordinator of GWP Caribbean, stated that “the Suriname Water Forum is a significant step in taking a participatory approach to managing water as reflected in the process of IWRM”. She explained that water is everyone’s business and that stakeholders at all levels have a role to play in decision making on water. “Real participation only takes place when stakeholders are part of the decision-making process,” she said.
Ms. Alexander pointed out that in the Caribbean region, the concept of stakeholder participation in decision-making is not widely practiced; however the WFS is a step in the right direction as it creates a platform for various voices, opinions and ideas on water resources management.
Advise and exhange information
Also speaking at the launch was Mr. Manodji Hindori, Chairman of the WFS who explained that though Suriname has a lot of water resources, the country is still faced with many problems in the water sector. “These problems range from water shortages in the agricultural sector; sea level rise; sanitation issues; availability of potable water; among others,” he said. He explained that this is why the Water Forum now exists, as it would help to advise the government on these areas as well as improve the exchange of public information on water issues.
The current members of the WFS range from representatives from the Suriname Water Company, water boards, water experts, government ministries, non-governmental organisations, representatives from the area of social sciences, and other national technocrats.
The Board of the Water Forum Suriname has already developed an action plan for the next two years 2013 – 2014. Among the key priorities is the contribution to national water policy development for Suriname. The establishment of the Water Forum is a key achievement by the water sector and represents the commitment of various agencies and stakeholders in Suriname to manage the country’s water resources in a sustainable way. The Water Forum has applied to become a GWP Partner.
Capacity building for IWRM
During the same period of the launch of the Water Forum, another major initiative in Suriname got off the ground: a project called “Capacity Building for Integrated Water Resources Management in Nickerie.” Located in north-west Suriname, Nickerie is one of the largest cities in the country.
The water management project is being spearheaded by Overliggend Waterschap MCP (OWMCP), an organisation that aims to become widely recognised as a knowledge centre on water management and a water authority in the area of Nickerie.
Partly funded by the European Union, it aims to bring about a good water management system for the Nickerie district as well as increase knowledge and awareness on water resources management. One of the expected outcomes is that the community will be the prime beneficiaries with increased capacity in the area of water management.