“Implement environmental and social solutions to ensure water security for all in Africa”; this is the theme that was brainstormed by members of the Africa group on May 28th at a side event held as part of the 5th African Week Water (26 to 31 May 2014 in Dakar). Presentations were done by Wetlands International, the Young Volunteers for the Environment of Togo and Both Ends, Netherlands.
Ecosystems such as wetlands and forests provide many benefits to companies. However, they are often left stranded in the planning and management of water resources. The enforcement of environmental and social solutions to ensure water security for all in Africa was at the heart of the side event’s debate by the AfriWaterCOP (Community of Practice) initiative.
The first presentation focused on water issues in Africa and the role of natural infrastructure. From the onset, Richard Dacosta, project manager of Wetlands International’s Africa Regional office in Senegal, explained the significance of water in Africa and the challenges of African countries in the sustainable management of this resource, and the effects of natural curses (floods and drought). He then stressed the role of natural infrastructure as reservoir for many basic human needs (water, food, entertainment, etc.). Mr. Dacosta also dwelt on the importance of the genuine natural infrastructure of these ecosystems. They enable people to increase their resilience to natural curses, while acting as a cistern for flood waters, provided they are well maintained.
Recommendations have been made for these efforts to be redeployed on the management interface regarding generation / recovery and conservation and with a consideration of the economic valuation of ecosystem approach (TEEB ) for more natural economic infrastructure, and to the right mix between Natural Infrastructure and Items Structuring (dams with or without retained ) .
Negotiated approach to water management
The 2nd presentation made by Sena Alouka, executive director of Young Volunteers for the Environment Togo, laid emphasis on an experience related to negotiated approach. This approach has emerged in India. It combines the actors directly involved in the process of water management. This is a new approach that needs exposure for a more democratic water management said Mr.Sena. Its approach is complementary to the integrated water resource management (IWRM) of which he showed some shortcomings.
The discussions were centered on the IWRM and the negotiated approach with a focus on how to ensure that natural infrastructure plays its role beside the structural works.
It could be recalled that this side event which is organized in the agenda of the 5th African Water Week in Dakar (26 to 31 May 2014) was an item in the AfriWaterCOP (Community of Practice) group. “This community of practice is being implemented by Both Ends, Netherlands in Africa to exchange information and share experiences on the challenges of water security for all”, hinted Thirza Brunner, Senior Policy Advisor of the Ngo.
Papa Mawade Wade, Wetlands International programs coordinator, was the moderator of the debate.