By Kaleab Getaneh and Jorge Alvarez-Sala
There is a high interdependence between Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services and Water Resources Management. A sustainable supply of good quality drinking water highly depends on how properly the water sources are managed. Similarly, if WASH services provision is not sustainably managed it will have a huge negative impact on the water resource.
The UNICEF and USAID supported project to strengthen the Water Sector Working Group (WSWG) Secretariat started in July 2015 with the aim of establishing a well-functioning platform for the water sector consisting of the WASH and Water Resources Management (WRM) subgroups that contribute to the sustainable development and management of the water resources in the country.
The project has been supporting the reactivation of the WRM Sub Group and the organization of the first-ever Joint Technical Review (JTR) for the WRM sub-sector. The main purpose of the JTR is to bring various stakeholders together and ensure a sustainable coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximise the economic and social welfare of the population. This is the basis for the ongoing and future water sector interventions in general and One WASH National Programme in particular.
Developing climate resilient sustainable WASH services under the umbrella of One WASH National Programme require looking into the bigger water resources management picture, including the protection of water sources and the overall water governance issues. To this end, the reactivation and capacitation of the WRM subgroup and the launching of the JTR is significantly contributing to the development of a clear and common agenda for the water resources sector in Ethiopia.
The WRM sub-group has been able to bring together three concerned Ministries: Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity (MoWIE); Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources (MALR); and Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and key development partners (DPs), academia and civil society organizations (CSOs).
The priorities established by the WRM sub-group include: 1.Irrigation for growth; 2.Legislation of groundwater use; 3. Conflict resolution; 4. Communication/Management Information System; 5. Institutional and Human Capacity; 6. Water quality; and 7. Water Charges/Tariff and Scheme Sustainability. Following the identification of the priority areas, six WRM technical working groups have been established to further pinpoint key bottlenecks and gaps.
On the 19th April 2018, the WRM JTR kick-off meeting was successfully held by involving more than 85 participants from academic institutions, CSOs, development partners, basin authorities, concerned federal ministries, and regional bureaus of water, environment and agriculture. The workshop was attended by H.E. Ato Kebede Gerba, the state Minister of MoWIE and H.E Ato Kare Chewicha, the state Minister of MoEFCC. It has laid the foundation by bringing the three ministries (MoWIE, MoEFCC and MoANR) together to talk about water resources management in the country.
Currently, the six working groups are actively organizing a field mission to review the state of WRM in three selected river basins (Awash River Basin, Rift Valley Lakes Basin and Abay River Basin) and come up with high impact implementable actions. The findings of the field mission will feed into the upcoming Multi Stakeholders Forum, which will bring both WASH and WRM subsectors together for the first time.
The whole process of JTR and MSF is expected to culminate in the preparation of a National WRM Programme document, which is currently being developed with technical and financial support from UNICEF.
UNICEF’s support to the Water Sector Working Group (WSWG), and its sub-groups is possible thanks to the generosity and support of USAID. The JTR kick-off meeting was also financially supported by JICA and the Italian Cooperation Agency.