Water Security

Freshwater is the most important resource for mankind, cross-cutting all social, economic and environmental activities. It is a condition for all life on our planet, an enabling or limiting factor for any social and technological development, a possible source of welfare or misery, cooperation or conflict.

To achieve water security, we must protect vulnerable water systems, mitigate the impacts of water-related hazards such as floods and droughts, safeguard access to water functions and services and manage water resources in an integrated and equitable manner.

The SADC Integrated Water Resources Management Initiative (SADC-WIN)

UNESCO in partnership with SADC Water Division, WaterNet and other regional UN agencies is proposing a more innovative and holistic approach to this recurrent challenges - and have developed a regional initiative on integrated water resources management as means to providing long-term relief to the current food-water-energy challenges of the region.

This Regional Integrated Water Resources Management Initiative (SADC-WIN) focuses on a comprehensive response to addressing the impacts of perennial extreme weather using innovative ‘water chain’ approaches in parallel to the humanitarian assistance to vulnerable communities. Developing innovative approaches to significantly improve water management including water reuse practices via a ‘water chain’ approach in which both quality and quantity are considered as essential in addressing recurrent droughts and floods. The proposed initiative is based on four pillars: Policy and Governance Strategies; Institutional and Human Capacity Development including Early Warning; Innovative Water Resources Management; and Action Research and Demonstration with community engagement.

Expected Outcomes

The overall expected outcome is improved livelihoods in the SADC region through increased resilience to droughts and floods. Other secondary outcomes include the following:

  1. Strengthening planning, policies and strategies: Water security reflected and mainstreamed into development planning, national, basin and regional policies, strategies, plans and projects, college and school curriculum, and community livelihood activities, with women and children specifically targeted.
  2. Early warning, hazard mapping and action research: Flood and drought information (including information on dam levels, etc.) co-ordinated and readily available for improved planning, modelling and management. Flood risk mapping and guidelines developed using modern scientific knowledge and evidence-based quality data, and capacity available for up-scaling to other areas.
  3. Demonstration, innovation, action research and learning alliances: (i) Demonstration and Piloting: Increased understating, appreciation and uptake of innovative water chain projects by stakeholders and practitioners; Action Research: New scientific ideas generated and available in the region to boost capacity of universities and research institutes in teaching, learning and research in climate resilience and water security.
  4. Institutional and human capacity development and awareness raising: Capacity of relevant government institutions strengthened in community resilience and adaptation to climate change and how to sustainably manage water (including groundwater) as a central part of the regional and country responses to extreme weather events. There is enough support and cooperation from all stakeholders on water security programmes.

Progress to date

  1. Workshop on the Transfer of and Training on Africa Drought Monitoring for Southern Africa - UNESCO in collaboration with UNESCO-IHP, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, at Princeton University and University of Southampton, developed an experimental drought monitoring and seasonal forecasting system for Sub-Saharan Africa. The system merges climate predictions, hydrological models and remote sensing data to provide timely and useful information on drought in developing regions where institutional capacity is generally lacking and the access to information and technology prevents the development of systems locally. A key element of the development of the system is the transition and testing of the technology for operational usage by African partners/stakeholders. Following the inception workshop on the project, UNESCO in partnership with WaterNet and the Princeton University held a regional workshop for the transfer of and training on the Africa drought monitoring system for Southern African countries in Harare, Zimbabwe from 9th to 11th November 2016.
  2. Validation workshop of the report on Addressing drought challenges in Southern Africa - The main objective of the workshop was to validate the consultation report by the representatives of SADC countries, SADC secretariat and the SADC secretariats of river basin commissions.  The workshop led to sharing of experiences among SADC countries on drought mitigation policies, strategies and plans. The workshop took place in Johannesburg from 30th to 31st March 2017.

The future

Several initiatives to improve the livelihoods of people in the region are in the pipe line. The SADC-WIN Programme is designed for the SADC Region, with actions taking place at regional, river basin, and national level in line with the SADC Water Cube. For continuity, the SADC Water Division, WaterNet (a UNESCO supported initiative and a SADC subsidiary capacity development arm), and SADC implementing partners (GWPSA, IUCN, IWSD, WaterNet, SARDC, etc.) will be the main partners driving the Programme in partnership with UNESCO. This will also make its up-scaling of results more effective and sustainable. The Programme will operate at regional, river basin and national level for policy and institutional issues, while field activities will be based on selected catchments and/or hotspots in the river basins and/or countries and will be anchored on strong R&D, training and awareness components. Based on the results, and capacities developed, the further action should take part in a follow up phase (Phase 2). The role of SADC and River Basin Institutions in implementing this project from the start is essential. The inclusion of WaterNet and SADC implementing partners will ensure continued development of capacity in the area. WaterNet will also be the hub of international cooperation and skills transfer with UNESCO institutions and other relevant UN organisations.

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