GWP and AMCOW Unveil Water, Climate and Development Programme for Africa

Press release 30 November 2010

The Global Water Partnership (GWP) and the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) have unveiled a joint programme to support climate change adaptation in Africa.

On November 24, during a High-Level Segment at the 3rd Africa Water Week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, AMCOW Executive Secretary Mr. Bai Mass Taal presented a framework for the Water, Climate and Development Programme prepared with GWP.

“This initiative supports the implementation of the African Union Sharm el-Sheikh Declaration on Water and Sanitation, and specifically contributes to AMCOW’s work on climate change,” said Mr. Taal.

The programme is an initiative to contribute to AMCOW’s work on climate change. The objective is to promote Africa’s water security as a key part of sustainable development and contribute to climate change resilience for economic growth and human security.

“The goals of the programme are clear: to reduce the risks that climate change brings, especially the increasing risks of both droughts and floods; to protect the gains that African societies have made, and to develop water resources further in a way that builds resilience to disasters as well as building strong economies.” GWP Executive Secretary Dr Ania Grobicki said at the opening of the AMCOW Ministerial Session on November 26.

The Water, Climate and Development Programme was unveiled during a two day segment at Africa Water Week. In her keynote speech during the opening of the segment, H.E. Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union Commission, noted that the segment was taking place just before the 16th Conference of Parties (COP 16) to the UNFCCC in Cancun, Mexico. She pledged her support to ensure that the outcomes from the segment inform the discussions on climate adaptation, on mitigation and on technology transfer, all of which are critical items on the agenda of the global climate change negotiations, especially for Africa’s common position.

The objectives of the programme are to support African countries in:

• integrating water security and climate change risks into national and regional development planning and decision-making processes;

• developing and enhancing the capacities of partnerships, institutions and stakeholders to integrate water security and climate resilience in development processes and actions;

• development and implementation of “no regret” investment and financing strategies for water security, climate resilience and development.

The programme will also support countries to prepare climate change adaptation programmes for funding and promote collaboration with exiting Project Preparation Facilities, Trust Funds and Adaptation Funds, to ensure immediate implementation with bankable projects.

The Hon. Edna Molewa, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs of South Africa and President of AMCOW, said that in the face of climate change, “Partnerships such as those launched in the Water, Climate and Development partnership program with Global Water Partnership represent a good first step.”

The key strategies of the programme include:

• Supporting development priorities (water for food, energy and economic and social growth);

• Building on the lessons learned from supporting implementation of IWRM plans, NAPAs, disaster management plans, and plans to combat desertification;

• Linking local to national, transboundary and regional scales to promote holistic and integrated approaches to adaptation;

• Promoting a partnership approach to adaptation through mobilisation of relevant stakeholders at national, transboundary, regional, continental and global level.

In January 2009, during a joint GWP/AMCOW/African Development Bank meeting in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, AMCOW requested GWP Africa to support the implementation of the African Union Sharm el-Sheikh Declaration on Water and Sanitation, specifically on Climate Change Adaptation, Financing, and Water Governance. AMCOW and GWP convened a series of events in Africa to develop the framework for the Water, Climate and Development Programme.

Executive Secretary of the Global Water Partnership Dr. Ania Grobicki explained that climate change will have the greatest impact in Africa. Many countries lack adequate water infrastructure and have climates that are among the most variable in the world on seasonal and decadal time scales. Floods and droughts occur in the same area within months of each other, often leading to famine and widespread disruption of GDP and socio-economic development.

“This is an excellent initiative by AMCOW and GWP,” said Dr. Joakim Harlin, Senior Water Resources Advisor of the UNDP Water Governance Programme (WGP). Dr Harlin commended the Water, Climate and Development Programme for being based on Africa’s existing development and pan-African political context and part of the AMCOW work plan. “The initiative will help AMCOW and many Africa countries to move forward in addressing climate change,” he said.

Dr. Harlin expressed his support for the initiate and announced that UNDP is supporting the European Union Water Initiative-Africa Working Group (EUWI-AWG) to help AMCOW implement the Sharm el-Shekh declaration on water and sanitation. He announced that UNDP would be happy to see the Water, Climate and Development Programme streamlined with the EUWI-AWG support to AMCOW and create synergies with other on-going support to AMCOW. Dr. Harlin further suggested to promote collaboration with UNDP’s Cap-Net to support the capacity development component of the new GWP-AMCOW initiative.

The United Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the World Meteorological Organisation both commended the initiative and pledged their support to the programme. Dr Avinash Tyagi noted that through the Global Framework on Climate Services, climate information will become more easily available to users on the ground, and the new programme would be important in enabling users in Africa to access this information more easily. The existing WMO-GWP Flood Management Programme, and the proposed Integrated Drought Management initiative would complement the programme in providing advice on managing the risks of extreme climatic events in a proactive way.

“This is a laudable and comprehensive initiative”, said Dr. Johnson A. Oguntola, UNECA Senior Regional Advisor on IWRM. Dr Oguntola stressed that the partnership approach adopted by the programme is an excellent way to realize its objectives. In collaboration with the African Development Bank, UNECA and the African Union have established the Climate and Development Fund (Clim-Dev). Dr. Oguntola mentioned that UNECA would be pleased to collaborate with AMCOW and GWP and to create synergies between the newly proposed programme and the Clim-Dev Fund.

Bai Mass Taal explained that programme implementation will be led by national governments in collaboration with Regional Economic Communities and River Basin Organisations. AMCOW will provide policy direction and linkages to the African Union for Pan-African integration. The programme will be facilitated by GWP.

Initially, eight countries and four transboundary river basins will be selected for implementation and these will be expanded as more funds become available. “This is a demand-driven initiative and countries and river basins will be selected on the basis of expressed demand and priorities defined by AMCOW in collaboration with key stakeholders such as Regional Economic Communities and national governments,” said Mr. Taal.

GWP Senior Network Officer and Climate Change Focal Point Mr. Alex Simalabwi explained that the program takes into account the lessons learned by GWP’s work in 13 African countries while developing National IWRM plans between 2005 and 2010.

Mr. Simalabwi said the impacts of climate change are already being felt across the world and Africa is on the receiving end. “The GWP/AMCOW initiative presents an opportunity to move from climate change rhetoric to action on the ground and hence we call upon the international community to support this initiative”, said Mr. Simalabwi.

(Photo: AU Comissioner Rhoda Peace with GWP Executive Secretary Dr Ania Grobicki and GWP representatives)