Zambia makes its case at World Water Week
TOBIAS MUSONDA, Stockholm
EVERY year, around 2, 500 experts, practitioners, decision-makers, business innovators and young professionals from a range of sectors and countries go to Stockholm, Sweden, to network, exchange ideas, foster new thinking and develop solutions to the most pressing water-related challenges of today.
It is called the World Water Week, organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), a Stockholm-based policy institute that generates knowledge and informs decision-making towards water-wise policy.
Founded in 1991, SIWI performs research, builds institutional capacity and provides advisory services in five thematic areas such as water governance, transboundary water management, climate change and water, the water-energy-food nexus and water economics.
Its World Water Week provides a unique forum for the exchange of views, experiences and practices between the scientific, business, policy and civic communities. It focuses on new thinking and positive action toward water-related challenges and their impact on the world’s environment, health, climate, economic and poverty reduction agendas.
Led by the Ministry of Energy and Water Development permanent secretary in charge of water development Dr Edward Chomba, the Zambian government participated at the 2016 World Water Week in Stockholm recently.
The 2016 World Water Week programme consisted of more than 140 events of different formats and covered a range of subjects.
It was held under the theme “Water for Sustainable Growth” with various topics ranging from financing, 2030 agenda, integrity, gender, climate change, energy, sanitation, food, conflict resolution to water management being discussed.
In a panel discussion, during the Africa Focus that featured 11 other African ministers of Water, Dr Chomba highlighted Zambia’s water reform sector programme that has contributed to the achievement of water-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for the country.
He informed the seminar that efforts have been undertaken in the last couple of years to secure both underground and surface water resources through the formulation of the National Water Policy in 2010 which gave birth to the Water Resources Management Act of 2011, which in turn, created the Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA).
The new legal regime replaced the old legislation and hence provided, inter alia, the formation of the Water Users Association under the superintendence of WARMA, and switched from the granting Water Rights to Water Permits in order to address issues such as pollution as well as to deal with emerging challenges of water stress facing the country and tackling low budgetary allocation and releases to the water sector.
The reforms had brought ethics in the manner in which water resources were managed and there is an integrated approach of managing water and energy through the water and energy nexus.
The permanent secretary concluded by saying that this deliberate initiative by the Zambian government has resulted in the water agenda occupying centre stage and as such the water sector was no longer overshadowed by the energy sector in the socio-economic development process of the country.
And in his premiere address during the same discussion panel focused on Africa, Gerson Lwenge, the Tanzanian Minister for Water Resources and Irrigation and president of the African Minsters’ Council on Water (AMCOW), drew parallels between the theme of the 2016 World Water Week, “Water for sustainable growth” and the outcome of the recently concluded sixth Africa Water Week.
The sixth Africa Water Week firmly established Africa’s road map to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal number eight (SDG-8) as well as other interlinking SDGs connected with water resources management and improved sanitation delivery.
Mr Lwenge affirmed Africa’s commitment to the achievement of equitable and sustainable use and management of water resources for poverty alleviation and socio-economic development, regional cooperation and to the establishment of a pan-African monitoring and reporting system capable of informing policy and tracking progress on the SDGs in Africa.
The AMCOW president, who also led a delegation of African Water Ministers to Stockholm, declared that Africa was already linking the monitoring and reporting processes from member-states to sub-regional, continental and even global levels to reduce the burden and duplication of monitoring efforts at various levels by making information generation, assessment and dissemination easy for all stakeholders on the continent.
At the same conference, attention shifted to Africa as the continent launched its trail-blazing web-based monitoring and reporting framework on SDGs.
Touted as one of the most ambitious attempts at tracking progress on the attainment of the SDGs as they relate to water and sanitation sector as well as the Africa Water Vision 2025, Agenda 2063 and other high level commitments, the Pan African Monitoring and Reporting System represents Africa’s readiness to learn from the mistakes. Mr Lwenge said the launch demonstrated AMCOW’s commitment to aligning both Africa’s monitoring and reporting and various global processes in a way that better targets efficiency, effectiveness and greater impact.
He stressed that by so doing, support for the harmonisation of efforts to monitor SDG targets and other high-level commitments would be achieved.
Mr Lwenge hoped that the system will simplify for all stakeholders, the generation, assessment and dissemination of information on water security and sanitation across the continent of Africa.
Water ministers from Benin, Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Senegal, Egypt and Zambia who graced the Stockholm launch praised the framework as a timely response to making credible information generation, assessment and dissemination available to all stakeholders on the continent.