Many Pacific Islands are experiencing increasing pressures on water resources due to growing populations, infrastructure development, and climatic fluctuations. IUCN, member and partner organisations are strengthening forces to support Integrated Water Resource Management in the Oceania region.
Through 4 demonstration projects, IUCN’s Water and Nature Initiative (WANI) focuses on good governance, payments for ecosystem services, and learning and leadership, with the aim to improve the quality and sustainability of water resources in the region.
From 15 to 19 February IUCN held an inception workshop for the second phase of the Water and Nature Initiative, to build upon achievements and progress from WANI-1. The initiative started in the Pacific in 2008 with the establishment and initial development of WANI projects in Kadavu and the Nadi Basin in Fiji, and the Togitogiga Watershed in Samoa. Complementing the 3 WANI projects, is the Pacific Learning and Leadership project in collaboration with SOPAC (Secretariat for the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission) Regional Pacific IWRM projects. “The WANI inception workshop was very successful in setting clear objectives with partners, sharing lessons learnt, and defining the project action plans for the next 18 months”, said Dr Milika Sobey, IUCN Water Programme Coordinator for Oceania.
IUCN aims to support the management of Fiji’s water resources and watershed ecosystem services, currently in decline due to land use changes, altered river flow patterns and degraded ecosystem services. These problems are compounded by the effects of climate change through altered rainfall regimes. Water management in Fiji, including tourism and forestry projects, has generally followed a “top-down” approach. WANI’s Kadavu and Nadi watershed projects aim to demonstrate a watershed management model based upon participatory community approaches, sound economic valuation and ecosystem management benefitting biodiversity and the livelihoods that depend on them.
For the Nadi project, WANI helped establish the Nadi Basin Catchment Committee to provide appropriate stakeholder engagement in the development of a Flood Risk Management Plan and complements the Regional GEF Pacific IWRM's Nadi Catchment Project. Through these river catchment committees all stakeholders can be represented in the decision-making processes, strengthening the resilience of their watersheds and its services. In Kadavu, three Locally Managed Marine Area Networks (LMMA) sites provided the location for work to begin on up-scaling of the participatory model to include ridge-to-reef management. This bottom-up model will provide a cost-effective and integrated sustainable water resource management approach that will be transferable to other sites in Fiji, and elsewhere in the Pacific.
The Togitogiga Catchment is WANI’s selected demonstration project in Samoa. Located on the eastern Upolu island, Tongitogiga is the main source of water supply for downstream communities and has a unique biodiversity. It is also well known for recreational purposes as part of the “Togitogiga National Park”. With an increasing population and development pressures, this catchment area has become significantly degraded due to soil erosion, sedimentation, and water pollution. Over the past few years, reports that the river has run dry spurred MNRE (Ministry for Natural Resources and Environment) to find cooperation with IUCN’s Water Programme to identify possible causes, and find solutions to improve the health of the Togitogiga watershed. The project also aims to develop and implement a watershed management plan using the 2008 legislative framework of the Samoan Water Resources Management Act. The plan will create a balance between anthropogenic demands on the catchment and biodiversity conservation.
Experiences and lessons learnt from Nadi, Kadavu and Samoa will influence WANI’s 4th project in the region, the Pacific Learning and Leadership Programme. This project aims to address the shortfall in awareness and knowledge within Pacific Island countries, advocate the WANI principles and support SOPAC's Regional Pacific IWRM projects. Currently watershed management is often implemented with the purpose of providing water supply or to reduce the risk of floods, without adequate inter-sectoral engagement or legislative frameworks. The WANI principles; good governance, biodiversity conservation, sound economic analysis and livelihood security, need to be considered and included. The WANI toolkits will provide the basis for the WANI-2 Learning and Leadership programme in Oceania.
IUCN's Water and Nature Initiative in Oceania works in partnership with the University of the South Pacific (USP), Samoa Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), Fiji Land and Water Resources Ministry (LWRM), and the Secretariat for the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC).
For more information on the WANI Toolkits, please visit this link: https://www.iucn.org/about/work/programmes/water/resources/toolkits/
Project photos are available upon request. Bios and contacts of IUCN water experts are available online: http://cms.iucn.org/about/work/programmes/water/wp_contacts/index.cfm