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IWRM: Africa countries are on course, says UN report

A United Nations survey has revealed that over 50% of African countries are implementing national plans for integrated water resources management. The report also states that another 75% are on course in the implementation of national water laws for integrated water resources management in line with the Africa Water Vision for 2025.The findings of the “2012 Status Report on the Application of Integrated Approaches to Water Resources Management in Africa” are based on data collected from 40 member countries of AMCOW that responded to a detailed survey conducted by UN-Water to determine progress towards sustainable management of water resources using integrated approaches.

The report was released today during the 8thGeneral Assembly of AMCOW, at the 4th African Water Week, which kicks off today in Cairo, Egypt.

It found that 18 of those countries have integrated water resource management (IWRM) plans under implementation. A similar study conducted in 2008 found that 5 countries, out of the 16 that responded to the survey, had IWRM plans or were in the process of developing them.

Several respondents reported that their improved performance in water resources management provided direct benefits towards their national social and economic objectives. The report asserts that detailed documentation of these benefits, including better and more consistent indicators, could increase government commitment and financing for water management and infrastructure. It recommends that a more rigorous reporting system on progress in water management in Africa is initiated by AMCOW to provide a better basis for informed decision making at the national level.

“I am encouraged by the progress that has so far been made with integrated approaches to water resources management, which establishes a solid foundation for development and peace,” said the AMCOW President, Hon. Edna Molewa, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs of South Africa “It is crucial that we increase our efforts to implement past declarations on water and sanitation to advance the well-being of Africa’s people, environment and economy. This is in the spirit of the Africa Water Vision 2025.”

Improved coordination, institutional capacity and financing needed
The progress reported is not without challenges. A great deal more, in terms of commitment and resources, is required to assure food and energy security, as well as access to safe drinking water and sanitation to a growing population. The report highlights flooding, droughts and pollution as the greatest physical threats to Africa’s water resources, which will most likely become more severe due to climate change and variability. It recommends targeted action to intensify efforts and opportunities for country-to-country knowledge sharing,particularly on disaster preparedness and water risk management as a means to increase resilience to climate change.

The survey responses also highlight financial constraints; institutional capacity gaps; and weaknesses in coordination mechanisms between sectors and government departments as key challenges to integrated water resources management in Africa. The report thus emphasises the need to carry out reforms aimed at strengthening the capacity of relevant institutions for managing transboundary water systems, as well as the capacity of local river basin organisations and national apex bodies.

“Water resources are an essential ingredient in the advent of a green economy in Africa,” says AMCOW Executive Secretary, Bai-Mass Taal.

“All nations must create transparent and integrated approaches to prioritise wise and efficient allocation of water. The outcomes of the survey should be utilised as a first step towards the development of a permanent reporting mechanism on each country’s progress towards that goal.”

The full report produced jointly by the African Union Commission (AUC) and AMCOW, which is the AUC’s Specialised Technical Committee on Water and Sanitation, with support from the EU Water Initiative Africa Working Group.


The report is available at