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

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    China Seeks On-Off Switch for Internet

    Public asks whose security is cybersecurity law aiming to protect

    UN Human Rights Chief: Burundi May Explode Into Ethnic Violence

    Burundian government accuses the UN of a campaign of distortion

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora