News / Africa

Sharing Water Resources Can Benefit All Involved

The Nile River runs through many countries
The Nile River runs through many countries
Joe DeCapua

When several countries rely on the same water resources, the potential exists for political tensions or even violence. But projects in Africa prove that regional cooperation can be a win-win situation for countries.

Integrated Transboundary Water Resource Management is one of the issues being discussed during World Water Week at the Stockholm International Water Institute.

“That means that shared water resources like rivers flowing across boundaries, flowing from one country to another, can really be managed in such a way that they bring benefits to the people living in those basins and those countries, “said Anton Earle, program manager for capacity building at the Stockholm International Water Institute.

Cooperation benefits

Cooperation means investing in shared water resources.

“By that I mean you invest in the institutions to manage these waters. And that of course leads later on to investing in infrastructure that can be built, such as dams, water transfers and also small-scale infrastructure, that can make sure that people get access to water services and also make sure that this is done sustainably,” Earle said.

Sustainable water management ensures the protection of ecosystems on which all life depends.

Earle said to get countries to cooperate on water management, they must clearly see how they can benefit.

“The key thing to remember is that countries want to maximize their own interests,” he said. “Showing countries that by cooperating, setting up joint institutions, there’s something for them to gain from it. It’s not just that their losing sovereignty or losing control over a resource that they might perceive as just theirs. There’s actually something to gain.”

To do that, he said, the focus cannot simply be on water.

“We start getting them to think about sharing a basket of benefits of which water is just one of the many benefits,” he said, “sharing resources, sharing expertise, trying to promote joint tourism activities, for instance, on some of these rivers.”

It can also include trading energy generated by water resources.

“In most parts of the world energy production is quite intimately linked with water, whether it’s through hydropower, electric dams or through thermal power stations that need large amounts of water for their cooling. So if you can get countries to say, ‘Well, where are you generating energy most effectively and efficiently? Let’s rather transfer the energy than having to move water around the place,’” said Earle.

Limited?

Water is considered a precious resource, especially as the world population continues to soar.

“Is water a limited resource? Essentially you have the more traditional understanding of viewing water as a gift from God. Something that just comes freely from the sky…. So that when people start talking about valuing your water and actually being made to pay a price for the water over and above just the price of pumping and building infrastructure to convey it… you find a lot of people are instinctively against a concept like this,” said Earle. However, he has found minds can be changed on the matter.

Earle said, “We do find in Africa once you have explained these sort of concepts to people they very quickly realize that this makes absolute sense. And that any other limited and scare resource that they want to access there is, after all, some type of payment that has to be made.”

Link to the environment

In Africa, there are large rural-based populations. Earle has found they often have a better understanding of the environment than people who live in the West.

“These rural-based populations are much more closely linked to the environment and ecosystems that support them. Having this link to the rural areas and a close affinity to the environment puts them in a better position to quickly grasp the fact that if water is so scarce it should be managed in such a way,” he said.

Horn

Earle believes the Horn of Africa could benefit from such water management programs to help deal with recurring droughts.

“What do you invest in first? Do you first invest in your institutions focused on water management or do you first focus all your energy on trying to get general peace and stability in the country at large? And it’s difficult to say because the two things go hand in hand. But essentially what is needed in an area such as the Horn of Africa are better institutions that can prepare for these droughts that do come through,” he said.

He said systems can be put in place to build resilience  to drought.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs