Twenty journalists from Nigeria and nine other West African countries on Monday commenced a weeklong capacity building/training on water financing and protection within the sub-region.
The workshop, which is holding in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, is organised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Global Water Partnership for West Africa (GWP/WA) to strengthen the capacity of media professionals; sensitise on economic tools for sustainable management of natural resources; and provide support to the production of quality information that will lead to greater mobilisation of stakeholders around the financial needs of different activities in the water sector.
Workshop organisers explained that, by subscribing to the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations member states committed themselves to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water by 2015.
According to them, “At the Earth Summit in Johannesburg in 2002, was made the additional commitment for 2015” to have the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation.
Communications Officer of GWP/WA, Sidi Coulibaly, in a statement explained that the international community has begun to realise the importance of better management of water resources and is committed to promote Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) as a priority.
He said the pressure of population growth weighs on the resources, adding that, in spite of recent efforts, there are still regional deficiencies in coordination, governance, legislation and financing of the water sector.
He explained that risks related to water such as floods, droughts, conflicts and waterborne diseases are not controlled and that the potential of water in West African region are still under-exploited in the area of hydropower, irrigation and ecotourism.
“In addition, many countries in West Africa suffer from high rainfall variability that their infrastructures and management capabilities are insufficient to mitigate. This problem hampers their development and their efforts to fight against the poverty.
“Given these facts, it is clear that a lasting solution can be sought through better governance and a more adequate funding of the water sector. The effort to produce must be that of all the stakeholders, so it cannot be solved if all its members, cities, regions, NGOs, civil communities, management services, companies, banks, multilateral organisations, and not only the states of North and South, accept to change deeply their behaviours and approaches. Everyone must redouble efforts including financing, projects management and often their relationship with environmental conservation,” he stated.
Coulibaly stressed that it is necessary to create a multi‐stakeholder response to the financial needs of different activities in the water sector, with a view that water resources are used and managed in a fair and sustainable way to reduce poverty, the socio‐ economic development, regional integration and environmental protection.
He mentioned that it is also important to use new approaches, new economic and financial tools, such as payments for environmental services, to help ensure the proper protection of the resource.
The IUCN and GWP/WA, through the initiative for Poverty Reduction and Environmental Management (PREMI) are saddled with the role to inform, educate and advocate dialogue between stakeholders who can facilitate sustainable practices and equitable sharing of benefits derived from the exploitation of resources.
By Kayode Aboyeji, in Abidjan