Water - an engine for growth, development and industrialisation

Right at the heart of Namibia, “the land of the brave”, in the capital Windhoek was the venue for the 7th SADC Multi- stakeholder Water Dialogue held from the 29th to the 30th of September, 2015. Held under the theme, “Watering Development in SADC: The central role of water in driving industrialization” the dialogue was attended by 150 delegates from across the region representing the water sector, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), cooperating and development partners, academia, the media, and other relevant stakeholders from non-water entities (energy, agriculture, industrialization). The delegates, of which a good number were youth were brought together to deliberate the role that water will play in driving industrialization in the region.

The crucial role of the benefits derived from shared water resources contribution to industrial development were noted in the official opening of the dialogue by the Namibian Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Hon Theo Diergaarat, who delivered the key note address. With a special emphasis on Nambia as an example, the Deputy Minister  noted that the dialogue comes at a time when Namibia is faced with water challenges however as all perennial rivers are shared with neighbouring countries, transboundary cooperation and management for Namibia with other riparian States in this case is a MUST and NOT an option. He added, “Namibia like most African water scarce countries is looking to take advantage of cooperation in international shared water resources so as to maximise the benefits derived from these shared water resources from industrial development”, he added.

The Deputy Minister further acknowledged the road map and strategy on industrialization for the SADC region that was developed and launched in June 2015 in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe following a directive from Heads of States and Governments. It was noted that as the overall aim of the strategy is to drive industrialisation as a way of promoting socio- economic and value addition in the region, the strategy will enable Namibia and the rest of SADC to accelerate economic growth, diversify and broaden the manufacturing and industrial base.

Following the opening session, The dialogue programme  included the second session, which set the scene by highlighting the recommendations, progress that the SADC region has made on the previous Dialogues. In that session, Ms Ruth Beukman, GWPSA Executive Secretary. The specific objectives of the dialogue as elaborated by the presentation made by Ms Ruth Beukman, GWP SA Executive Secretary pointed out to the dialogue aiming to provide better understanding of industrial development trends and the interaction with water resources management; understanding how nexus approaches can lead to sustainable industrialisation; strategising and proposing a clear way forward to ensure water resources in the region are developed, managed and used in a sustainable way to support the industrialisation agenda; and providing a platform to present and discuss RSAP IV, which is supporting the implementation of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and the industrialisation roadmap and strategy.

Additionally, as a result of the growing usage of social media platforms in disseminating information, Ms Barbara Lopi, Communications and Awareness Expert Water Sector, SADC Secretariat gave a presentation on ways of broadening the water dialogue to the general public using Twitter. Thus apart from media present, delegates were encouraged to use social media as an awareness tool on the dialogue deliberations.

The technical paper made by Guy Pegram (Pegasys) on “Water and Industrialization in the SADC Region” visited the SADC Industrialisation Policy through the water community’s eyes by providing an understanding that a successful and sustainable economic industrial future in SADC will rely on placing water at the forefront of development and industrial planning. The paper thus set the context to initiate dialogue with regards to understanding the critical role of water in driving the industrialisation agenda. 

The third session of the programme comprised group sessions on “Industrialisation and Water”. The four groups comprised the following topics: environmental sustainability and the green economy, it is all about people, companies can make a difference and industrialisation phases of development.
This was followed by session four, a facilitated High level Panel Discussion entitled  “ensuring water role as a stimulant in regional development through industrialization” made up of the Chairs from the groups: (SADC DIS Transport, SADC DIS Water; SADC TIFI, RBO representative, IWMI/RESILIM, GiZ- AWS, and ICP representing the chair positions)

The fifth session involved the Regional Strategic Action Plan  IV Validation which took in the form of group work looking at the following topics:

Regional instruments for cooperation: Support the harmonisation and implementation of the National Water Policies

  • Gender mainstreaming, Youth and Stakeholder engagement
  • Infrastructure development, operation and maintenance
  • Climate Change and variability
  • Industrialization and Nexus approaches
  • Water Resources Management for Sustainable development
  • Capacity development and research
  • Establishment and strengthening of oceanic states cooperation and shared watercourse institutions

In that session, the participants had the opportunity to validate the 8 components of the Regional Strategic Action Plan (RSAP) IV that was drafted after the successful completion of the SADC Water Weeks held in 15 member states.

 The discussions during the dialogue raised a number of issues through which the region is better able to push for improved industrial structures. Particularly, in order for water to be an enabler to industrial development, delegates noted that:

· There is a need of demonstrating and communicating the value of ecosystem services and water in relation to the industrialisation agenda

  • Industrialisation offers significant opportunities for improving the well-being of people in Southern Africa and contributing to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Smart industrialisation is gender sensitive and guards against impacting women and youth.
  • Internationally, the private sector has recognised water as both a key input and a significant risk to business.
  • Creating perfect partnerships between government and companies, which go beyond corporate social responsibility, are critical in order to achieve water sensitive industrialisation and ensure that processes and approaches contribute to the effective management of water in the public interest.
  • The Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap highlights 3 phases of industrial development and to contribute to each the water sector needs to better together and better and understand the geographic growth and opportunities presented by resource.
  • In order to achieve the sustainable benefits of industrialisation it is important to avoid a mismatch between the demand of water in various value chains and the water available – assurance of supply is critical in creating a conducive investment climate.

Following outside the main dialogue programme, a cocktail dinner hosted by the Ministry of Water (Namibia) was the place for the launch of the Zambezi Environment Outlook 2015 book and DVD produced by the Southern Africa Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) in collaboration with Zambezi Water Course Commission (ZAMCOM) and SADC with funding from UK Aid, Australian Aid and GIZ. The aim of the knowledge products are to strengthen basin wide cooperation and regional cooperation.

During the closing session, Mr. Phera Ramoeli, Senior Programme Officer, SADC Secretariat informed delegates that He highlighted that the RSAP IV document should be out by December 2015. He added that he was looking forward to the enthusiasm and support from the participants on the implementation on the RSAP IV and the dialogue outcomes. He further applauded the great support that had been received from the youth and hoped that would continue in all the activities that will be undertaken.  Further on during the closing session, Mr Ngwenya, Director of Water Affairs, Swaziland noted the high level deliberation during the dialogue on issues pointing to water as an engine for growth, development and industrialization.  

The dialogue is a biennial activity which provides a platform for regional stakeholders to discuss and share experiences on different aspects of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). The dialogue is supported from the Government of Denmark (Danida), the Governments of Germany in delegated cooperation with the Governments of Australia (AUSaid) and the United Kingdom (UKaid) managed by GIZ, in collaboration with the Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWP-SA). This year, additional support was received from two USAid programmes, namely Climate Resilient Infrastructure Development Facility  (CRIDF)  and Resilience in the Limpopo Basin Program  (RESILIM).