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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More