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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid