Developing a SADC Water Research Agenda

Due to a growing need within the region for countries to agree on a water-related research agenda and themes, and to avoid duplication in research, a workshop on developing a Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Water Research Agenda was held at St. George Hotel in Pretoria, South Africa from the 8th to the 9th of April 2015. The workshop was planned and organised conjointly by SADC and WaterNet with the cooperation of GWP SA.

This initiative was aligned in the overall plan of SADC to gather inputs into the formulation of the Regional Strategic Action Plan IV (RSAP IV) from the 15 member states. This event brought together 32 representatives of various academic and research institutions within the region.

The main objective of the workshop was to map the main activities to undertake as a region with regards to research and ensuring effective and efficient ways of output and uptake of research results. Specifically, it aimed at determining the degree to which the water research agenda could contribute to achieving SADC overall development agenda goals; identifying the main research themes which would constitute the research agenda; identifying and describing the research topics for each the main research themes; prioritizing the various research topics across all the research themes and determining the bets implementation strategy for the research agenda in terms of the type of research to be undertaken, the appropriate funding mechanisms to opt for and the implementation of the agenda at institutional level.

Presentations made on background information covered all aspects of the impacts of water on various sectors and provided context for group work to discuss pertinent issues. From the group discussions, it was imperative that work was needed towards reactivating the Water Research Fund for Southern Africa (WARFSA). This entity would be playing a co-ordinating role and the governance of the Research Fund institute should reflect regional participation. Additionally, it was felt that a reporting mechanism or platform has to be put in place for ease of monitoring and accountability. A research financing platform for affiliated institutions could be equally useful. Funding would be generated from government/public and public sources throughout all sectors (food and beverages, mining, energy, agri-business, insurance and telecommunication companies as well as various cooperating partners, development banks and international partnerships funds. The main research themes selected were: climate change adaptation, food security, environment protection, urbanisation and infrastructure development, disasters and early warning systems, governance and accountability, corruption and integrity.

In the end, the meeting obtained its set of objectives by emphasising the relevance of research along with the importance of ownership of the research agenda from SADC. The meeting also agreed on the important to relook past research and determine the relevant areas required for further research. Resources mobilisation and capacity development at institutional level were noted as a starting point and as key pointers to ensuring the success of the process.