Research and Innovation key to addressing water challenges – SADC

It is important to invest in research and promote new innovations to advance implementation of programmes in the water sector, Dr. Kenneth Msibi, Policy and Strategy Expert in the SADC Secretariat Water Division, has said.

‘’SADC values the role of innovation, research and technology in addressing the water challenges being faced in the region, and the overall realisation of SADC developmental goals. It is our aim that this symposium addresses the themes of the SADC Research Agenda, which promotes the implementation of programmes in the water sector, “noted Dr. Msibi.

Speaking in Johannesburg, on the upcoming 18th WaterNet/WARFSA/GWP-SA Symposium, Dr. Msibi said this year’s symposium will be held on 25 – 27 October 2017 in Swakopmund, Namibia, under the theme “Integrated Water Resources Development and Management: Innovative Technological Advances for Water Securimity in Eastern and Southern Africa”.

The 18th symposium underpins the cross-cutting nature of water in all human life, development and economic activities. Research and discussions will be inclined towards policies, tools, best practices as well as experiences in integrated water resources planning and management in various programmes and economic activities.

The majority of Eastern and Southern African countries are characterised by water scarcity, thereby leading to sanitation and water supply challenges. These challenges, which are further aggravated by wastewater treatment challenges, urbanisation and rapid population growth in urban and mushrooming peri urban areas, have a negative impact on human health.

Water security is not guaranteed by good infrastructure only, but also requires good governance at regional, national and local levels, legal and policy frameworks, effective water resources management, stakeholder participation at various scales as well as water service delivery models among others.

A basic human right and key resource in sustainable living and improved livelihoods, water is critical in the realisation of other human rights. It is the basis of any development and is key in energy production, agriculture and other land uses such as forestry and biofuel feedstock.

Over the past 17 years, the symposia have been used as a platform for academics, policymakers, practitioners from water and related sectors, and cooperating partners in the Eastern and Southern African regions to identify regional issues, challenges and gaps in the water sector. Furthermore, the annual symposia place emphasis on the integration of knowledge, particularly involving scholars from the natural and social sciences.

Like in previous years, various researchers and authors will be showcasing their research findings on issues related to water resources within the region. The symposium will avail attendants the opportunity to deliberate on these findings and identify priorities that require further research and support in water programmes and projects.

The Namibian Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry will lead in hosting this year’s symposium, in collaboration with the Global Water Partnership-Southern Africa (GWPSA), SADC Waternet, the Water Research Fund for Southern Africa (WARFSA) and the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS).