The “Fit for School” programme, commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), aims at improving pupils’ access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. The programme held its regional conference 2022 on 22nd – 24th November in Bangkok, Thailand. The main goal of the event was to consolidate the wealth of learning gleaned from the last eleven years of implementation, while providing partners with a forum to explore ideas for regional and global collaboration on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in schools and related emerging thematic areas.”
“Fit For School” has supported Ministries of Education in the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos in their rollout of national policies, implementing guidelines, and monitoring systems for WASH in schools since 2011. Since 2021, the “Fit for School Africa Initiative” has extended this support to different African countries, adapting the successful approach to the respective contexts on the ground. Among others, the programme has extended its support to Zambia by supporting the implementation of Phase 4 of the Safe Back to School campaign under theLusaka Water Security Initiative(LuWSI).
A delegation from Zambia, including the Town Clerk for Lusaka City Council, the District Education Board Secretary, the program manager from Water Aid Zambia and an advisor from GIZ NatuReS attended the conference. Also in attendance were representatives from Malawi, South Sudan, Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos.
The learning event offered an opportunity to foster a stronger exchange between different African and Asian countries facing similar challenges, and to enable them to draw lessons from each other’s experiences and tools. This exchange stimulates and facilitates sustainable scaling-up of “WASH in School” programming in their respective countries.
Collaborative approaches to natural resources governance enable accountability and equitable allocation of resources between competing demands, as can be the case between upstream and downstream water use needs. GIZ’s Natural Resources Stewardship (NatuReS) programme provides facilitation and strategy in setting up cross-sectoral stewardship partnerships for Tanzanian stakeholders to jointly analyze and address natural resources risks, aiming at generating social, environmental and economic benefits.
Setting up Stewardship Partnerships in Tanzanian River Catchments
Stewardship partnerships supported by GIZ-NatuReS are built on the understanding that natural resources are better managed through cross-sectoral collaboration. Leveraging the resources and capacities of every sector, the availability and integrity of these resources can be ensured in the long term. Partnerships are established through a step-by-step inclusive process, guiding partners in tackling shared environmental risks in a participatory manner. The aim is to reduce classical silo working systems by accompanying public, private, and civil society sector in identifying joint risks and supporting them in developing joint solutions to reduce these risks. Under this framework, NatuReS Tanzania acts as a neutral broker – supporting partners in working together to find mutually beneficial solutions for sustainable economic growth and the continued use of precious natural resources (Richards et. al, 2022).
Enhancing Inclusive Participation in Water Resources Governance
NatuReS in Tanzania has enhanced inclusive participation within the supported partnerships by ensuring the equal involvement and representation of all stakeholders in the discussion, planning and decision-making processes in natural resources management. To enable cross-sectoral collaboration, good leadership and coordination mechanisms are of paramount importance. Therefore, the key added value the partnership approach brings to natural resources management is improving the communication and coordination between various users, who are otherwise often not communicating or even hostile towards each other. The regular good governance meetings that partners under the Sustainable Water Management Partnership (SUWAMA) held prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and steering committee meetings that continue to date are examples of these joint fora. In these meetings, participants exchange about how regulators’ roles and responsibilities can be harmonized to increase results-based decision-making, collaboration between sectors can be enhanced, and compliance to environmental regulations be better enforced.
Strengthening Civil Society Organizations
To improve communities and civil society participation, NatuReS has continuously supported the capacitation of Water Users Associations (WUAs), who were previously inactive. WUAs are legal entities stemming from the Water Resources Management Act of 2009. They act as “small water boards” at the community level and are designed as the lowest participative organizations for water resources management within defined basins. Covering segments of watersheds, they are broadly responsible for water conservation activities, conflict management over water issues, and water allocation to irrigators through a permitting system. They are mandated by the Water Act and respective basin boards to bring up the issues of water users at the basin level. As “the eyes and ears” on the ground for the basin offices, they are particularly insightful in managing conflicts over water allocation and know the livelihood activities of local communities.
As a WUA leader, I was inspired to join the partnership after seeing the challenges of working with a large group of water users. The partnership has worked by bringing together investors, water users and other diverse stakeholders. We know what everyone is doing, where water is being abstracted from and for what purpose. Furthermore, water users are now conversant with the various governance structures responsible in taking care and overseeing the available water sources. Prior to joining the partnership, Water Users Associations and the Pangani Basin Water Office would constantly be accused of not equitably distributing water among beneficiaries. Through improved coordination, stakeholders now understand their roles and responsibilities in taking care of this precious natural resource.
– Tito Kitomari, Upper Kikuletwa WUA Leader
NatuReS undertook a capacity assessment of the WUAs, identified areas for enhancing their capacity, and provided trainings within the areas of Catchment Conservation – enabling them to play a greater role in sustainable catchment conservation and management; Financial Management – supporting them in managing the finances of their institutions; as well as Leadership and Governance – to build their capacity on strategic leadership, focusing on governance and community leadership roles.
Water resources issues concern everyone in the community, therefore involvement [participation] is crucial. Partnerships provide a platform where stakeholders discuss these issues and help us to come up with more powerful solutions.
– Karim Kimaro, Weruweru WUA Secretary
Steering Private Sector Funds towards Water Resources Management
Under partnerships following a stewardship approach, businesses go beyond their corporate social responsibility by making in-cash and in-kind contributions to partnership activities, leveraging funds for public sector to adequately manage natural resources. A good example is the DOMIKWA irrigation furrow structural rehabilitation in the Usa River sub-catchment. The furrow, located along the Usa River, is one of the main furrows supplying water in the area. Partners joined forces to rehabilitate it after its structure had severely deteriorated over time. In-cash and in-kind contributions of 38.5M and 10M Tanzanian shillings were pledged by private sector and furrow members, respectively. The private sector procured most of the construction materials and covered all the labor costs.
Without effective collaboration between government agencies, businesses and communities, it is impossible to make these activities [water resources management] sustainable.
– Abraham Yessaya, Community Development Officer, PBWB
Availability and good quality of natural resources like water, soil or air are key to livelihoods and economies. Their scarcity, endangerment or mismanagement can provoke conflicts. Innovative approaches like natural resources stewardship offer an opportunity to address shared risks and develop joint, inclusive and long-lasting solutions for water-stressed catchments such as the Pangani Basin in Tanzania.
Maintaining a 7-kilometer-long river stream is too much to handle for one company alone. It is difficult to monitor issues such as water theft, structural issues and vandalism at the furrows and water source. As a beneficiary, Dekker Chrysanten believes that collective action is necessary to resolve water challenges. Addressing water risks becomes easier as the responsibility to maintain the river stream is equitably shared amongst stakeholders.
– Gabriel Steven, Flower Transporter and Breeding officer, Dekker Chrysanten
World Rivers Day is a celebration of the world’s waterways. It’s a day set aside to highlight and remind us of the value that rivers bring to support life, encouraging improved stewardship of all rivers around the world. The World River’s Day Celebration in Zambia was held on the 26th of September 2022 at the source of the mighty Zambezi River in Ikelenge district, in the Northwestern part of the country. The theme of this year’s celebration was “The importance of Rivers for Biodiversity. “
In the key note speech read on behalf of the Minister of Water, Development and Sanitation, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources and Member of Parliament for Ikelenge constituency Hon. Elijah Muchima, highlighted the significant role rivers play for our livelihoods. He bemoaned the degradation of rivers and freshwater ecosystems due to unregulated and overuse of water, pollution, river bank cultivation and deforestation, causing erosion and siltation of river beds. He emphasized the Zambian government’s commitment to champion policy reforms and strengthen leadership in the management of water resources, including the restoration of the Zambezi source landscape.
In light of this commitment, the Provincial Minister of North-Western Province, Honorable Robert Lihefu MP, launched the Zambezi Source Ecosystem Restoration Project at the same event. The project, which will be implemented in collaboration with WWF, Stanbic Bank, GIZ’s NatuReS Programme, the Forestry Department and the National Heritage Commission, seeks to improve natural resources management in the Zambezi Headwaters area. Partners aim for restoring the ecosystem to a condition representative of the native ecosystem. They will also support alternative livelihoods for the local communities.
The Managing Director and CEO of Stanbic Bank Zambia PLC, Mr. Mwindwa Siakalima, stressed the need to preserve the health of the river and pledged to continue supporting the efforts to restore the ecosystem at the source. Additionally, the Country Director of WWF, Ms. Nachila Nkhombo, urged government to take steps to legally protect the area and commended the traditional leadership for the their support in protecting the Zambezi source.
The celebration ended with a tree planting activity at the Zambezi Source, led by Her Royal Highness, Cheiftainess Ikeleng’i.
NatuReS is part of the initiative to protect the Zambezi River, as the degradation of the Zambezi River source has the potential to affect everyone, and no single actor can improve water security by working alone. Different capacities are required to prevent water insecurity. Only by partnering across sectors can the Zambezi River be protected in the long run.
Wetlands serve as the ‘kidneys’ of the earth. They store and purify water, protect areas from flooding and are a vital habitat for fish and other wildlife. Once a wetland is degraded, it can’t maintain its ecological functions which poses risks to human health, biodiversity, and environmental security.
Partners under the Commercial Flower Farms Integrated Catchment Management Partnership have joined forces to combat the degradation of wetlands around Greater Kampala. On 28th of September 2022, Nature Uganda, a civil society organisation working for the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable management of natural resources, officially launched their activities under the partnership in Mpigi District. The focus lies on the conservation of the Semagimbi wetland.
Conserving Semagimbi wetland together
Mpigi District belongs to the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area and hosts the Semagimbi wetland. This wetland has been heavily degraded by encroachment, land use change, a growing population and pollution from nearby industries.
To support the conservation of the wetland, Nature Uganda is implementing a variety of activities under the partnership in Mpigi District. These include:
Development of a wetland management plan for Semagimbi wetland
Demarcation and environmental restoration of 10 km of the wetland
Establishment of wetland management committees
Identification and promotion of alternative livelihood options
Sensitization campaigns on sustainable use of natural resources
Engagement of schools around the wetland on solid waste management
Launch Event organized by Nature Uganda
During the launch event, stakeholders from the Ministry of Water & Environment (Mr. Benard Arinaitwe, Ass. Commissioner Wetlands), Mpigi Local Government (Ms. Maria Lubega, Deputy Resident District Commissioner; Mr. Emmanuel Ssempala, Deputy Chief Admission Officer; Ms. Aisha Nakirija, Vice-Chairperson; Mr. Tony Mwidyeki, District Natural Resource Officer), Religious and Cultural Leaders, students and a representative of the private sector (Mr. Victor Embati, Quality Assurance Manager Fiduga/ Dummen Orange) came together at Mpigi District Local Government Headquarters to be introduced to the activities led by Nature Uganda and to give room for discussions. Finally, participants visited Semagimbi wetland to showcase issues on ground.
The Executive Director of Nature Uganda, Achilles Byaruhanga, highlighted: “We have in plan many interventions, which include working with schools around the Semagimbi wetland. By sensitizing them on proper waste management ways, we believe these children can help us pass this information to their parents.”
With the project officially launched, the stage is now set for the implementation of activities in Mpigi district. Jointly, partners will support the conservation of the wetland to ensure it can serve its ecological function for generations to come.