Availability and access to water resources have a strong bearing on patterns of economic growth and social development in the eastern and southern Africa region. It has become increasingly important that water resource development takes place in the context of integrated water resource management (IWRM) with its main principles of equity (regarding access), efficiency (economic) and sustainability (environment).
The goal of the programme is to implement sustainable water and wetland management and mainstream ecosystems approach into IWRM processes in order to support poverty reduction, equitable development, resilience to climate change and conservation of biological diversity. This is through developing and demonstrating practical approaches to the implementation of IWRM. The programme also influences policy and builds the capacity across sectors and levels of governance to manage water resources.
Poor management of water and wetlands resources not only destroys the environment we depend on but also hinders economic development, leading to a loss of livelihoods. Investments in natural infrastructure such as river basins and wetlands, water institutions and good water resource management are the vital foundations of sustainable economic development and social wellbeing for the Eastern and Southern Africa region. Water and wetlands underpin conservation of biodiversity and most of the economic activities from food production—the mainstay of many economies and critical to people's livelihoods in the region—to manufacturing, energy production and transport. IUCN’s Water and Wetlands strategy for the region focuses on key strategic areas including ecosystem based management and biodiversity conservation, good governance and stakeholder participation, water resources and climate change adaptation, and learning and knowledge sharing.