Empowering people to manage water

Across East Africa, water catchment planning and development at the local level is essential for sustainable and integrated water management in the region. "It is at the local level that the opportunity for involvement of all stakeholders, including non-state actors, in water resources management exists", says Katharine Cross, IUCN Water Programme Officer.

Maasai women taking part in vulnerability assessment, Chambogo Same District, Tanzania

IUCN initiated the project on Building Capacity to Manage Water Resources in Uganda and Kenya. This project aims to complement existing Global Water Initiative (GWI) projects in both countries with GWI partners, including CARE, Catholic Relief Services and Action Against Hunger. The goal of this project is to strengthen governmental water management institutions in Kenya and Uganda. This supports the development and implementation of policy frameworks needed for scaling up of GWI interventions to wider areas.

The Global Water Initiative (GWI) is implementing the larger strategy in Eastern Africa entitled ‘Running Dry: Empowering Poor People to Manage Water in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands.’ The Programme has the ambition that “More than one million of the most vulnerable and impoverished populations in dry and semi-arid communities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, will live in transformed environments that they manage. The communities will have full access to reliable safe water, sufficient water to contribute significantly to a range of livelihood uses, total sanitation will have been achieved, food security and health significantly improved. Both the physical and the human environment of one million people in communities which used to be on the brink, will have been transformed.”

In 2010, the Programme will enter the 3rd year of a long-term commitment of support from the Howard G Buffett Foundation (HGBF).

As a partner in GWI, IUCN’s Water Programme has been engaged in the Tanzanian component of the Running Dry Programme. IUCN’s role has concentrated on Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) specifically around governance and risk management. This work is achieved partially through awareness-raising with stakeholders on water reforms and water rights, and complemented by capacity-building for institutions and communities. The intent of these activities, says John Owino, Kenya Project Manager “is to ensure that implementation takes place within the institutional framework, established under Tanzanian national water policy and law, that will need to be strengthened and operational for the Running Dry Programme to achieve its ambitions”. IUCN has also led the roll-out of climate change vulnerability assessments in GWI partner countries, enabling prioritisation of actions needed to reduce vulnerability to climate change in GWI project areas.

The IUCN Water and Nature Initiative (WANI) project is also working with government agencies, such as the Water Resource Management Authority in Kenya and the Ministry of Water and Environment in Uganda, from the national to community level. The project will support these governments in creating and strengthening water resource user associations or catchment committees, to manage water in sub-catchment areas. These will be in GWI operational areas and involve community members who are also managing water and sanitation points. Another outcome of the project will be community and local stakeholders’ capacity to plan, organize, manage and adapt to water-related shocks and conflict over scarce water resources. This is through development of sub-catchment management plans and implementation of priority activities such as river bank restoration. The project aims to build capacity of implementing agencies and key stakeholders through learning, knowledge management and dissemination. Exchange visits are planned between Kenya and Uganda, and also at the local level between communities. 

For more information, please contact:

Emmanuel Mwendera: emmanuel.mwendera@iucn.org

Katharine Cross: katharine.cross@iucn.org

Work area: 
Social Policy
East and Southern Africa
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