The Armenian Lake Sevan is the country’s most important source of fresh water, irrigation, aquaculture, and hydropower. Armenia’s economic, social, and environmental potential is linked to the lakes’ ecological conditions. However, the lake is severely endangered by unsustainable water management, pollution, rising water demands, environmental degradation, and climate change.
Lake Sevans’ crucial functions are impeded by unsustainable water management
Recognizing Lake Sevan’s socio-economic and environmental importance and the necessity to manage better this essential natural resource, stakeholders from Armenians’ public, private sector, and civil society decided to join forces. They sought guidance on how to effectively build multi-stakeholder partnerships to improve natural resources management around Lake Sevan collectively.
Enabling collective action to address water issues
From the 25th – 27th of January 2023, NatuReS, on behalf of the program ‘Environmental Protection of Lake Sevan’ (EU4Sevan), conducted a three-day online training for 24 participants. The training was about natural resources stewardship and collective, cross-sectoral action. The aim was to enable stakeholders to jointly set up a partnership for improved environmental management of Lake Sevan.
The participants were introduced to the NatuReS guiding framework to set up and accompany stewardship partnerships, the Natural Resources Risk and Action Framework (NRAF) By testing a set of NRAF tools within interactive breakout room discussions, they practiced the development of their own multi-stakeholder partnership around Lake Sevan.
Trainees’ exchanged perspectives and analyzed joint risks
Throughout the event, the participants exchanged their knowledge and perspectives on risks affecting their different sectors. Putting themselves in the situation of another sector, the participants discover joint risks resulting from the pollution and mismanagement of resources around the lake. Trainees, for example, discussed water pollution as leading to health risks, income losses for fishermen and tourism, and public dissatisfaction, among others. This displays, that while water pollution affects all sectors, it leads to different risks. They can be operational, reputational or regulatory, for the different sectors. This in the past has often represented a hurdle for coming up with good solutions. However, only by addressing challenges across sectors can effective solutions be developed, implemented and maintained in the long term.
A foundation for a partnership at Lake Sevan
Participants were also trained in best practices to ensure efficient division of responsibilities for their future partnership based on NatuReS approach. The training created a foundation for the participants to identify relevant stakeholders and set up their own partnership.
NatuRes thanks all participants and the EU4LakeSevan team for the productive days and the exciting insights into the environmental situation in Armenia. We wish them success in their future endeavors!
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.
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.
The sustainable management of natural resources requires shifting to a circular economy in which resources are used more efficiently, waste is reduced, and materials are recycled. During an online learning event organized by NatuReS on October 6th, 2022, partners from the public, private sector and civil society shared their experiences with promoting circular economy practices under a stewardship approach of cross-sectoral collaboration.
The circular economy framework brings a new approach to waste and materials management, considering the whole life cycle of resources, while paying attention to sustainable production, supply and management of resources. Transitioning to a circular economy requires a collaborative effort from all sectors and can only succeed through coordination along supply chains and product cycles. Establishing multi-stakeholder partnerships under stewardship principles has been a successful way to introduce circular economy practices across countries.
While supporting partners in moving towards a circular economy, NatuReS is dealing with cross-cutting and interlinked challenges. How can waste streams be improved in fast growing cities and catchments? How can their impacts on water quality, health, ecosystems and flooding be reduced, while strengthening economic growth? How can waterways that transport waste – and plastics in particular – to the oceans be better controlled? An integrated natural resource stewardship approach combines aspects that are relevant to address plastics management issues and green economic development challenges.
Partner experiences with circular economy partnerships
Mrs.Patience Nsereko, Principal Environment Officer at the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) of Uganda, opened the floor with remarks about theGreater Kampala PET Plastic Recycling Partnership. She pointed towards the importance of partnering with the private sector, namely Ecobrixs, a Ugandan social enterprise working on plastic recycling, to come up with innovative solutions for the country’s plastic challenges. One example is the Innovation Hub, which was recently launched under the partnership at the International University of East Africa (IUEA) in Kampala. Students will be trained in recycling practices and enabled to start their own businesses in the sector. “Since Ecobrixs is already active in the market, we hope that this will help students to think outside of the box”, stated Mrs. Nsereko. Asked about partnership successes, she mentioned the improved cross-sectoral collaboration: “The regulations developed will have a better buy-in from the private sector, as policy recommendations have been actively requested by them.”
Naa Adjeley Kome-Mensah from the plastic recycling company and “African start-up of the year 2022”, Kubik, gave an input about their involvement in the Partnership for Circular Value Chains in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The company turns low-value plastic waste into building material. Under the partnership, waste collecting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are trained in waste segregation and business management, as well as provided with collection tools, to enhance their efficiency of supplying plastic within the value chain. Kubik will then purchase the plastic for their production from these SMEs. A special focus lies on the empowerment of women, many of whom are working as informal waste collectors, capacitating them to become a formal part of the value chain.
The Lusaka Water Security Initiative (LuWSI), represented by its acting coordinator Mr. Kasenga Hara, who is also the Senior Inspector at the Zambian National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO), is promoting circular economy practices as a means to increase water security in Lusaka. By protecting wellfields from solid waste pollution, for example, the water quality in the area is increased. The involvement of communities is key in this regard according to Mr. Hara: “It takes quite some energy to bring all partners on board, but without the increase of communities’ decision-making power, the partnership efforts are meaningless.”
Local solutions to global challenges
Partners from all sectors have come up with different local solutions to promote the circularity of value chains. What unites them is the realization that sustainable local solutions are only possible through the multi-sectoral collaboration under a partnership. Examples include the “Green Spaces” in Lusaka, where community members, mainly women, are turning organic waste into methane gas for cooking, compost as organic fertilizer to grow tree seedlings and vegetables, and as food for the production of black soldier fly larvae which is a good source of proteins for animals. This project was presented by Ian Matimba from People’s Process on Housing and Property Zambia and Alice Phiri who is a community member from Zambia Homeless and Poor People’s Federation. Different LuWSI partners committed to the green spaces, be it through resource mobilization, accessing the organic waste, capacity building or negotiating with local land owners and authorities.
Andy Bownds, founder and CEO of Ecobrixs in Uganda highlighted the establishment of the Plastic Recycling Innovation Hub at IUEA as an important achievement which was made possible through the Greater Kampala PET Plastic Recycling Partnership. Together with NEMA, the company strives to create a platform for informal waste collectors under the partnership. This is key to empower the whole supply chain. At the moment, they are jointly establishing the Uganda Recycling Association made up of informal waste collectors. In the long-run, the aim is to create a fair-trade plastic recycling system in which it is possible to trace back under which conditions plastic has been collected and recycled. Thus, transparency and accountability along the value chain can be enhanced.
Finally, Takele Dessisa, Director of Research & Consultancy Services at the Addis Ababa Cleansing Management Agency in Ethiopia presented the manual baling machines developed and piloted under the Partnership for Circular Value Chains in Addis Ababa. Reacting to the fact that waste collectors need a way to efficiently store and transport the light yet voluminous PET plastic, yet do not have regular access to electricity, partners jointly developed manual baling machines. These are designed to be also handled by women and people with limited physical strength. A prototype has been tested at selected waste collecting SMEs and is currently being adapted according to feedback. Waste collectors can store and transport baled PET more easily and including at higher prices, which enables them to enhance their operations and hence their income. Through this intervention, partners aim at enhancing the efficiency of the plastic recycling value chain in Addis Abeba, thereby reducing the amount of plastic waste polluting the city’s soils and water bodies.
As different as the solutions to promote circular economy practices shown during the event were, they all have one element in common: without cross-sectoral collaboration, they would not have been possible. The stewardship approach of taking joint responsibility for shared natural resources has proven successful in the showcased examples.
NatuReS is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and co-funded by the European Union and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). This website’s contents are the sole responsibility of GIZ and do not necessarily reflect the views of the BMZ, European Union or FCDO.