Leaders from the Global Water Partnership (GWP) and the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) met to address concrete water and climate change issues on the continent, and to build on the growing collaboration between the two organisations.
The theme of the 3rd General Assembly of the Global Water Partnership in West Africa (GWP WA) was “Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) in West Africa:
Adaptation Strategies in a Context of Proven Climate Change,” and the delegates met in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 27-28 January.
“We wanted to draw attention to a phenomenon that is hitting this part of Africa hard, said Mr. Dam Mogbante, GWP WA’s Regional Coordinator. “The meeting clearly stated
how necessary it is to change the way we manage our water resources if we are to adapt to climate change and variability.”
The African Development Bank (AfDB) decided to build on the GWP WA General Assembly by organising at the same time in Abidjan the Preparatory Process for Africa’s participation in the 5th World Water Forum to be held in Istanbul, Turkey, in March.
In his opening address, the Chair of AMCOW, The Honourable Minister for Water, Congo-Brazzaville, Bruno Jean Richard Itoua, said, “AMCOW and the GWP must work urgently to assist countries in setting up adequate and dynamic sectoral policies and strategies which incorporate IWRM principles as an imperative.”
GWP Chair Dr. Letitia A Obeng highlighted the importance of moving water up national agendas because water issues are important to “all aspects of development [and to] the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals.” Prof. Yang Xiaoliu of China, representing GWP’s Technical Committee, illustrated to participants the strong contribution that an integrated approach to water resources management can make in dealing with the impact of climate change on water security.
GWP and AMCOW agreed to implement decisions made last year at Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. One priority is to work towards a joint meeting this year between African Ministers of Finance and their counterparts in ministries responsible for water. A joint GWP-AMCOW communiqué, presented by the Executive Secretary of AMCOW, Dr. Bai-Mass Taal, was adopted by the meeting. It affirms GWP-AMCOW cooperation within the framework of the Africa Water Vision and in pursuit of the AMCOW Programme of Action. AMCOW, GWP and the Regional Economic Communities will create structures at sub-regional levels to consolidate outputs from their collaboration in water issues.
Three main areas were selected as the focus of GWP-AMCOW cooperation:
(1) adaptation to climate change and mitigating its impact (2) ensuring funding for proper infrastructure, and
(3) improving water governance.
During the AfDB-led workshop to prepare Africa’s contribution to the 5th World Water Forum, the Hon. Bruno Itoua regularly referred to the GWP-AMCOW partnership as
the kind of platform they wish to nurture in Africa. It was agreed that GWP will be the chief rapporteur for Africa Day at the Forum. Mr. Hama Arba Diallo, confirmed by the West Africa partners as the new chair of the region, was selected by the Coordination Committee to present the findings, summary of discussions, and conclusions in Istanbul.
Mr. Diallo has served in high profile positions in Burkina Faso, including Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador to several countries, and Delegate to the UN General Assembly, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to GWP.
The meetings were attended by regional chairs of GWP in Africa and the Mediterranean, and about 100 partner associations from West Africa. Representatives from Regional Economic Communities such as ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) and SADC (Southern Africa Development Community) were also present.
The delegates recognised the importance and difficulty of bridging the gap between policy-makers and science.
“Participants expressed the desire for greater collaboration with science in general but more specifically in relation to climate change,” said Mr. Reginald Tekateka, Chair of GWP Southern Africa. “It was felt that policy makers should rely more on scientific research and that research should aim to address existing
knowledge gaps. More reliable short-term forecasting would be greatly facilitated by accurate scientific data.”
GWP WA also held a fund raising workshop for the executive secretaries of 11 Country Water Partnerships in the region. “This workshop was held to address a recurrent problem CWPs are facing about their lack of capacity for project development and fund raising,”
said Mr. Mogbante. “GWP WA and the CWPs expressed their appreciation to ECOWAS for generous financial support given to GWP for the fundraising workshop.”
“The Third General Assembly marked a milestone along the 10 year road of remarkable and extremely active engagement of our Regional Water Partnership in the West Africa Region,” noted Mr. Axel Julié, GWP’s Network Officer for the region. “The Abidjan meeting consolidated our strategic alliance with AMCOW and its implementation at the sub-regional level across the African continent.”