Across East Africa, governments have recognized watershed management at the local level is key to improved water resources management.
“The water sector in many East African countries is being transformed by formulating good institutional frameworks that promote local level involvement. Recently two new water governance projects have been launched in Kenya and Uganda to implement this approach, with the aim to achieve equitable and sustainable water allocation in the region”, said Katharine Cross, IUCN Water Programme Office for East and Southern Africa.
IUCN, through the Water and Nature Initiative (WANI), initiated a 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 project goal is to strengthen governmental water institutions in Kenya and Uganda. It will support development and implementation of the policy frameworks needed for scaling-up GWI interventions to a wider area and at national level.
GWI is implementing a strategy in Eastern Africa entitled ‘Empowering Poor People to Manage Water in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands’. The vision of the programme is ‘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 IUCN WANI project is working with government agencies, such as the Water Resource Management Authority in Kenya and the Ministry of Water and Environment in Uganda from national to community level. The project supports the government in creating and strengthening Water Resource User Associations or Catchment Committees. These will be in GWI operational areas and involve community members who are also managing water and sanitation points.
“Community and local stakeholders’ capacity to plan and manage water-related shocks will be strengthened and conflict over scarce water resources reduced. 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”, said Robert Bagyenda, Water Project Officer IUCN Uganda.
In Kenya, the project launch was attended by partners and stakeholders reviewed the work plan. The Kenyan inception workshop was attended by 29 participants drawn from the Kenyan Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) Tana Catchment Area, GWI Partners, IUCN and representatives from local communities. The meeting was opened by Boniface Mwaniki, Tana Catchment Area Regional Manager.
“The Tana catchment is one of the largest catchments in Kenya starting from Mt. Kenya all the way to the Indian Ocean. This project is important because it will use the principles of Integrated Water Resources Management and WRMA will benefit from the initiative, as the project will be used to build its capacity down to the grassroots level. The presence of GWI partners will contribute to improve livelihoods sustainably through the wise use of water resources”, stated Mwaniki.
IUCN launched the WANI project in Uganda in the District of Otuke. The inception workshop was officially opened by Leo Mwebembezi, Principal Water Officer and coordinator of the Upper Nile Basin. The WANI project will support the implementation of a new catchment strategy based on IWRM and will support the management structure in Otuke.
Japer Okello, Uganda WANI Project Offficer noted that “through WANI funding, IUCN now has an opportunity to engage with the Global Water Initiative (GWI) in Uganda in the areas of increasing resilience to water-related shocks and building capacity to manage water resources." The project is designed to support GWI objectives through activities that link local level processes to the national level.
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