Enhancing Regional Water Security - A Focus on Groundwater
The Southern African Development Community Groundwater Management Institute (SADC-GMI) is a regional Centre of Excellence on groundwater management, hosted by the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa on behalf of and under the strategic guidance of the SADC Secretariat, Directorate of Infrastructure and Services–Water Division, in Gaborone, Botswana. SADC-GMI is currently implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management in SADC Member States project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Multi Donor Trust Fund Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA) through the World Bank.
In a quest to advance groundwater narratives in the region, SADC-GMI has implemented various activities under the current funding, most recent and activities are:
SADC-GMI hosts its inaugural SADC Groundwater Conference
The SADC-GMI hosted its inaugural conference at Birchwood Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa from 26 – 28 September 2018, under the theme: “Adapting to Climate Change in the SADC Region through water Security – A Focus on Groundwater”. Approximately 130 delegates from the region and beyond attended the conference, to share knowledge and experiences on how to safeguard the region from the impact of extreme weather conditions due to climate change, focusing on groundwater as a buffer.
At the end of the three-day event, the following were key takeaway messages:
- Groundwater is a climate resilient resource for mitigating water, food, energy and ecosystems security risks;
- Integration of groundwater management into River Basin organizations institutional structures;
- Effective groundwater monitoring systems to generate decision-making information;
- Need to establish strong national structures to strengthen regional structures and share knowledge at national and regional levels;
- Channel funding in the right direction to ensure sustainable groundwater management;
- Support conjunctive use of groundwater resources using science-based evidence from research, capacity building and an enabling policy, legal and institutional framework;
- Need to develop a regional groundwater exploration strategy identifying priority transboundary aquifers and providing critical information for policy makers.
The conference recommendations were submitted as key messages to the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) Africa Water Week under the theme: “Towards Achieving Water Security and Safely Managed Sanitation for Africa” scheduled from October 29 to November 2, 2018 in Libreville, Gabon. The 2nd installment of the SADC Groundwater Conference is scheduled for September 2019.
Enhancing Water Security through Conjunctive Water Resources Management
It is critical that groundwater and surface water are managed conjunctively for water security in the region. To achieve this, SADC-GMI is implementing a conjunctive water resources management research project in the Shire River/Aquifer System shared between Malawi and Mozambique. This pilot project aims to contribute to sustainable water management in the SADC region through transboundary cooperation on shared critical water resources and it is expected to contribute to scientific knowledge and up-scaling of conjunctive approaches in the region. The project approach entails undertaking a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA), formulation of a Joint Strategic Action Plan (JSAP) and knowledge management of the research results with the intention of upscaling the approach. There are an estimated 30 Transboundary Aquifers in the SADC region and this project is only the third one to undergo research of this nature and magnitude in the region. The scope for up-scaling is therefore still huge.
Promoting Transboundary Groundwater Resources Management in the SADC Region through Enabling Policy, Legislative and Institutional Frameworks
SADC-GMI is implementing a project that seeks to close the gaps in the existing policy, legal and institutional frameworks for groundwater management in the region. The project entails undertaking gap analyses in all the 15 SADC Member States and at SADC regional level. This is followed by various benchmarking iterations culminating in the development of action plans and road-maps on how to effectively close the gaps. It is fully acknowledged that the promulgation of new policies and laws is lengthy. As such a hierarchical approach was adopted starting with the preparation and dissemination of guidelines to interpret the existing set-ups where groundwater is already incorporated but is misunderstood. This process is also accompanied by targeted capacity building and advocacy on the existing frameworks. In situations where glaring gaps are identified across the region, frameworks, protocols, guidelines or standards are developed from identified good practices and subsequently disseminated for national adaptation as required. To-date the elaboration of the 15 Gap Analysis reports from the SADC Member States as well as the regional report is complete and preparation of road-maps and action plans is underway. The project is earmarked to be completed by May 2019, by which time at least 3 regional consultation and advocacy workshops will have been implemented.