In West Africa, water is a constant matter of concern for governments and populations. The increase in water demand, due to population growth and economic development, is higher than economic growth, and results in increased pressure on water resources in countries which are already facing water shortages, droughts, spread of waterborne diseases and floods.
Causes are multiple and include environmental constraints concerning climate and vegetation, as well as human constraints such as poverty, social and cultural obstacles, population growth and low technical capacity. Almost 76% of water resources are used in agriculture, which national economies rely on; 17% are for domestic purposes and 7% for industries.
Holistic approach to water resources management
Balancing water needs, resources and environmental functions means that a holistic approach to water resources management is needed, taking into account all users and aiming at an equitable and efficient management and a sustainable use of water resources.
Following the West African Water Conference in 1998, political commitment for better water resources management quickly materialised with the installation of regional institutions and organisations responsible for promoting and implementing an integrated approach to water resources management.
Promoting IWRM in the region
GWP West Africa has been working together with the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) to promote IWRM in the region and help countries and stakeholders operationalise its principles through broad and active partnerships. ECOWAS recently adopted a regional water policy which aims at contributing to poverty reduction and sustainable development, and which now needs to be internalised at national level for effective implementation. The GWP is contributing to that process through its 12 Country Water Partnerships created as multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral neutral platforms for dialogue supporting national policy development.
Strengthening transboundary cooperation
GWP West Africa is also working with basin organisations such as the Niger Basin Authority, the Lake Chad Basin Commission, the Organisation for the Development of the Senegal River, the Organisation for the Development of the Gambia River, and the newly-created Volta Basin Authority – to strengthen transboundary cooperation over water resources management.