Research and Innovation key to addressing water challenges and job creation – SADC

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

‘’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.

The 18th WaterNet/WARFSA/GWP-SA Symposium was held on the 25 – 27 October 2017 in Swakopmund, Namibia, under the theme “Integrated Water Resources Development and Management: Innovative Technological Advances for Water Security in Eastern and Southern Africa”.

The 18th symposium underpinned the cross-cutting nature of water in all human life, development and economic activities. Research and discussions were inclined towards policies, tools, best practices and 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 expanding 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 were showcasing their research findings on issues related to water resources within the region. The symposium will avail attendants with 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 hosted this year’s symposium, in collaboration with Global Water Partnership-Southern Africa (GWPSA), SADC Waternet, the Water Research Fund for Southern Africa (WARFSA) and the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS).