Skip to main content

Celebrating the wins in water stewardship

In a remarkable celebration of commitment to water stewardship, the Lusaka Water Security Initiative (LuWSI) has awarded the prestigious 2023 Water Stewardship Award to North Western Water Supply & Sanitation Company Limited. This accolade was presented during the esteemed National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) 2023 Sector Report launch at the Mulungushi International Conference Center on 12th April 2024.

North Western Water Supply & Sanitation Company receiving their award from the Minister of Water Development and Sanitation. Copyright LuWSI

The award shines a spotlight on the company’s exemplary efforts in water stewardship, highlighting their significant contributions. These efforts are not just confined to their immediate catchment area but extend beyond, setting a benchmark for others in the industry.

A rigorous evaluation process, conducted by LuWSI partners such as World Wide Fund for Nature (WFF), GIZ’s Natural Resources Stewardship (NatuReS) Programme, National Water Supply and Sanitation Company (NWASCO) and the LuWSI secretariat underpinned the selection of the winner. The criteria encompassed a range of indicators from documentation of commitment to ecosystem protection, pollution prevention, energy efficiency and active participation in catchment governance.

Utility evaluation exercise at Nkana Water Supply and Sanitation Company
Utility evaluation exercise at Nkana Water Supply and Sanitation Company. Copyright GIZ

This recognition underscores the vital role commercial utilities play in water and environmental stewardship, transcending traditional sector boundaries. As Mr. Curtis Muleya, a key figure in the development of the stewardship awards, aptly noted, “Commercial Utilities, though not explicitly mandated to engage in ecological matters, are inherently linked to the environment as the primary source of water.”

Initiated in January 2018, the Water Stewardship Award aims to foster, acknowledge, and encourage exemplary water stewardship practices among utilities and companies in Zambia. It serves as a beacon of inspiration, urging corporations to prioritize sustainability and responsible resource management.

As we share this news, let’s take a moment to reflect on the importance of water stewardship and commend those leading the way in safeguarding our planet’s most precious resource. Congratulations to North Western Water Supply & Sanitation Company Limited for setting a stellar example for all!

Empowering Young Learners: The Success of the Young WASH Voice Campaign and WASH Hackathon in Lusaka 

Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are fundamental elements of sustainable development and are critical for the health and well-being of individuals and communities. However, many children, teachers, and pupils still face challenges related to inadequate WASH facilities in their schools and communities. The lack of safe water, adequate sanitation, and hygiene facilities leads to poor health, absenteeism, and a compromised learning environment.

The Centre for Water, Sanitation and Rehabilitation (WASAReC) and the Chevening Alumni Association of Zambia (CAAZ) organized a WASH hackathon competition on 24th February 2023. The participating schools are part of the Green Schools Partnership Program (GSPP), an initiative implemented under the  Lusaka Water Security Initiative and supported by GIZ’s Natural Resources Stewardship (NatuReS) Programme. 

The hackathon was the culmination of the Young WASH Voice Campaign (YWVC), which aimed to build capacity in school-going children aged 10 to 17 years in climate-resilient WASH governance and to provide these young learners with a platform to identify and suggest WASH solutions in their schools and communities.  

Empowering Pupils to Contribute to WASH Solutions in Their Schools 

The campaign recruited 120 pupils from four schools in Lusaka: Chakunkula Combined School, Foxdale Secondary School, Mumana Primary School, and New Ng’ombe Primary School. Before the start of the hackathon, the participants attended guest lectures on climate-resilient and inclusive WASH in schools and communities for four weeks. This was followed by eight weeks of mentoring learners in the problem ideation process and public speaking to support them in identifying WASH problems and their sustainable solutions. Through this process, the learners also got prepared to communicate their ideas to different audiences effectively.  

Learning and problem identification focused on four thematic areas:  

  1. Inclusive sanitation and solid waste management  
  1. Menstrual hygiene management, hygiene promotion, and water security  
  1. Development of a school WASH Handbook covering these topics, games, and the WASH alphabet  
  1. Other materials developed included the WASH Hackathon Workbook, the Hackathon Process pamphlet, and posters.  

Empowering Change: The Key Results and Achievements of the WASH Hackathon 

The learners and teachers were pleased with the training received and had a chance to participate in the hackathon actively. With the lectures and mentorship, the pupils were able to identify their challenges and gain knowledge on WASH stewardship. The campaign equipped 120 learners with climate-resilient and inclusive WASH knowledge to become champions of change in their schools and communities.  

The outcome of the hackathon was the identification of several WASH challenges in each of the four schools. These included the lack of menstrual hygiene management facilities, water shortages in the dry season, unsafe toilets shared between older learners and pre-schoolers, vandalism of water facilities, and poor solid waste management in schools and communities.  

The hackathon provided an opportunity for learners to actively participate in identifying WASH challenges in their schools and communities and propose sustainable solutions. The documented priority challenges that the learners perceived can serve as a reference for WASH implementers when considering supporting schools in improving WASH service access and stewardship.  

Moreover, the hackathon achieved some results in addressing the identified challenges. Some schools received support to increase water storage capacity to mitigate water shortages, especially during the dry season. Additionally, some schools received support to run water quality tests and received chlorine donations to improve access to safe drinking water.  

The documented challenges can inform WASH implementers in their efforts to improve WASH service access and stewardship in schools and communities.  

Summary of the Achievements:  

  1. 120 learners equipped with climate-resilient and inclusive WASH knowledge for them to save as champions of change in their schools and communities.  
  2. Documented priority challenges as perceived by learners (service users) that WASH implementers can reference as they consider supporting schools in improving WASH service access and stewardship.   
  3. Some schools have already received support to increase water storage capacity to mitigate on water shortages in the school, especially during the dry season.   
  4. Some schools have been supported to run water quality tests and received chlorine donations to improve access to safe drinking water in the school.   

 Feedback from Teachers and Pupils: 

“The way we have been trained is good, but you should also train us in basic skills like how to fix a tap. Also, give sensitizations to all pupils on water security and how to take care of the water facilities so that there is no more vandalism.” Grade 10 pupil, Foxdale Secondary School.  
“I am confident that through this campaign, our learners are prepared to be the young WASH champions in their respective schools and communities. They will be able to champion good practices and be able to speak to be heard on WASH matters.” – Lusaka District Education Board Secretary (DEBS).  

Importance of Partnership: Achieving Significant Results in a Resource-Constrained Environment 

As the Mayor of Lusaka, Her Honour Ms. Chilando Chitangala noted, “Such programs are very good, as they engage children in important matters while they are young. I therefore urge the schools through the District Education Board Secretary to create WASH Clubs where this knowledge gained today may continue to be built up.” The success of the WASH hackathon and YWVC can be attributed to the collaboration and engagement of various partners who supported the initiative financially and by providing the necessary human resources and logistics. This partnership demonstrated the importance of coordination and collaboration, where each partner brought their strengths to the table, to achieve significant results even in a resource-constrained environment. 

Follow-up Activities: Strengthening WASH Provision in Schools and Communities 

The team behind the YWVC and WASH hackathon is already planning a follow-up event where participating schools will implement their suggested solutions. This event will provide an excellent opportunity to continue building on the knowledge gained during the Young WASH Voice Campaign and to further strengthen the partnership between various organizations involved in WASH provision. The team is looking for partners to sponsor this event. 

In conclusion, the WASH hackathon competition and the Young WASH Voice Campaign were highly successful in empowering young learners and building their capacity in climate-resilient WASH governance. The pupils were able to identify their WASH-related challenges and propose feasible solutions, demonstrating the importance of engaging children in important matters while they are young. The success of this initiative can be attributed to the collaboration and engagement of various partners, highlighting the importance of partnerships in achieving significant results even in a resource-constrained environment. 

Sharing Insights on Stewardship Partnerships at the Climate Smart Agriculture Policy Dialogue in South Africa

From 13-15 March 2023, stakeholders from the public sector, representatives of regional economic communities (RECs), academic and research institutions, the scientific community, and civil society gathered to share knowledge, and experience in the “Climate Smart Agriculture Policy Dialogue, transitioning to resilient farming in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).”  

At the conference, our NatuReS colleague, Aristarick Mkenda, shared insights from stewardship partnerships in the Pangani Basin in Tanzania. The dialogue was convened by the Transforming Smallholder Irrigation in Southern Africa (TISA) consortium in collaboration with the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) at the University of Pretoria’s Future Africa Campus in Pretoria, South Africa. The conference theme was “Transitioning to Climate-Resilient Farming Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA),” focusing on the next generation of research, smart technology, policy development and best practices.

The Climate Smart Agriculture Policy Dialogue Goals:

The Policy Dialogue aimed to accomplish the following: 

  • Share data demonstrating the value of climate-smart farming in SSA’s transition to resilient farming communities. 
  • Provide suggestions on how to scale up the development of climate-smart and resilient farming systems in SSA. 
  • Networking and encouraging collaborations and action 

Social inclusion in the context of agriculture and food systems, water resources use, and climate action, was one of the conference’s important sub-themes. Communities, women and youths crucially contribute to agriculture and SSA catchments as farmers, workers and entrepreneurs.  Depending on the regions, these groups face distinct constraints that reduce their productivity and limit their contributions to agricultural production, family livelihoods, and economic growth. As a result, the importance of context-sensitive and inclusive approaches to support them was emphasized. 

Presentation on: Addressing Water Security through Water Stewardship Partnerships. Experiences from the Pangani Basin in Tanzania

NatuReS colleague Aristarick Mkenda shared perspectives on stewardship partnerships as a possible solution to increase effective stakeholder participation and representation to address shared challenges in water-stressed catchments. Sustainable and participatory water management, thereby, is fundamental to sustainable agriculture. His presentation was based on his co-authored scientific article (Richards et al., 2022) for the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) that analysed the partnership approach as a solution for inclusive participation. The partnerships facilitated by NatuReS in the Pangani River Basin in Tanzania served as empirical data. 

Stewardship partnerships answer other IWRM implementation gaps. For example, additional financing from private sector partners can overcome the need for more funds to implement projects. 

A productive discussion with the participants followed the presentation, in which challenges and their possible solutions of stewardship partnerships were discussed, such as costs of participation and balanced involvement of the private sector.  

Collaboration to Address the Growing Complexity in the Agricultural Sector

In the concluding remarks of the conferences, Prof. Jammie Pittock from Australian National University (ANU) highlighted that the objectives in the agricultural sector have become much more complicated since they have grown from simply producing food to cover diverse societal needs and adapting to climate variability. The complexity of the issues and topics in agriculture is making collaborations and partnerships between individuals and sectors more important now than ever.  

We thank the “Climate Smart Agriculture Policy Dialogue” and its inspiring participants for the invitation and the productive conference days and are looking forward to more valuable exchanges. 

For more information about addressing water security through water stewardship partnerships, you can access the research article here

Promoting Stewardship and Sustainable Business Practises at the Uganda Water and Environment Week 2023 

Each year in March, the Republic of Uganda – organized by the Ministry of Water and Environment – hosts the Uganda Water and Environment Week (UWEWK). The weeklong event seeks to contribute to the attainment of Uganda’s sustainable socio-economic transformation and to achieve the Ugandan National Development Plan and Vision 2040.

Since its inception in 2018, UWEWK has evolved to become the flagship program for advocacy, information sharing and learning within the country’s water and environment spectrum. The event format provides an opportunity to engage and exchange information on water and environmental management topics, as well as sustainable development in general and across various economic sectors. Organisers have positioned the event to promote a multi-sectoral and integrated approach that links all sectors to water and the environment. It is accompanied by various side events, exhibitions, applied training, facilitated knowledge exchange, dialogue, and learning. It usually reaches over 1900 participants.

Water and Environment for Climate-Resilient Development

This year, the conference focused on the theme “Water and environment for climate-resilient development” with the four sub-themes of:

  1. Policy, legal and institutional frameworks for climate-resilient development
  2. Climate-resilient communities, ecosystems, and infrastructure
  3. Capacity and partnerships for climate-resilient development
  4. Innovative financing mechanism

The Natural Resources Stewardship programme (NatuReS), together with two other GIZ programmes active in the country’s water and environment sector, supported the event. The programmes had a public display of their work and their contribution to Uganda’s water and environment through a weeklong exhibition of programme information material and outputs such as the Uganda Green Growth Report. Furthermore, three partnerships contributed to the conference with side events. The following sections provide an overview of the organized activities.

1. Promoting natural resources stewardship

To promote natural resources stewardship as a successful approach, participants at the NatuReS exhibition received information about stewardship partnerships. They were also introduced to the free, self-paced e-learning course on the Natural Resources Risk and Action Framework (NRAF). NRAF is the methodology to set up stewardship partnerships. The course targets public, private sector, or civil society stakeholders, who want to actively learn about steps and tools to participate in natural resources stewardship partnerships. By taking the course, participants learn how to facilitate the different stages of a multi-stakeholder stewardship partnership to address environmental risks collectively.

NatuReS colleague Simon Akena sharing information about natural resources stewardship partnerships with a visitor during the exhibition at Uganda Water and Environment Week 2023.

2. Promotion of Rainwater Harvesting

The Greater Kampala Integrated Flood Resilience Partnership participated in UWEWK with two activities promoting rainwater harvesting. An increase in the adoption and uptake of rainwater harvesting technologies by public and private institutions and households contributes to building flood resilience in Kampala and thus supports Uganda’s climate-resilient development agenda.  

Exhibition of existing rainwater harvesting technologies by Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) members

Three companies among Uganda’s top manufacturers of rainwater harvesting products (GENTEX, CREST TANK, and STEEL & TUBE Industries Ltd.) under UMA exhibited some of their innovative rainwater harvesting technologies and products, like rainwater storage tanks, gutters, and pipes. They also shared insights about costs and operational information.

Radio talk shows on scaling up of rainwater harvesting in Greater Kampala

To enhance awareness about the importance of rainwater during UWEWK, the Flood Resilience Partnership organized radio talk shows on two radio stations. Experts from Uganda Rainwater Alliance and Uganda Rainwater Harvesting Association discussed issues and challenges constraining rainwater harvesting in Kampala, opportunities for promoting and scaling up rainwater harvesting in Kampala, policy recommendations, and financing models for increasing the uptake of rainwater harvesting technology in the country. One of the talk shows was held in the local language Luganda to increase outreach.

3. Sustainable Business Practises in the Flower Sector

The Commercial Flower Farms Integrated Catchment Management Partnership supported the Uganda Flower Exporters Association on a moderated dialogue on  “Sustainable Business Practises in the Flower Sector.” With panelists from the Ministry of Water and Environment, the private sector (Uganda Flower Export Association, ED Flower Farm), and the civil society organization Nature Uganda, the dialogue served as a platform for the different sectors to exchange on challenges, foster understanding and strengthen their collaboration. The partnership goal is to improve compliance with national regulations and the sustainable use of natural resources in the flower industry while benefiting local communities.

4. Protecting Gulu City’s main water source, the Oyitino dam

Gulu City in Northern Uganda has rapidly changed climate conditions over the past years. This led, among other things, to the drying up of the Oyitino Valley dam and the associated streams, which serve as a primary water source for the city. To tackle this challenge and secure the quality and quantity of water from the Oyitino dam, partners from the public sector, private sector, and civil society have joined forces under the Gulu Integrated Catchment Management Partnership.
Since its initiation in 2022, significant efforts have been made, particularly regarding water source protection. During UWEWK 2023, partners handed over-restored intake sites of the Oyitino dam to the National Water and Sewerage Corporation.

Alternative livelihood options to restore the Oyitino catchment

Additionally, the partnership promotes more sustainable, alternative livelihood options among communities, such as apiary and horticulture, to incentivize the restoration of the Oyitino micro-catchment. These were launched by the Gulu Resident City Commissioner (RCC)and the Ministry of Water and Environment during side events of the UWEWK. Furthermore, partners established a ‘Community Environment Conservation Fund’ to ensure the sustainability of these sustainable income opportunities. Community members previously engaged in environmentally harming practices, like sand mining or bricklaying, can access this revolving fund. The fund allows them to access an initial source of capital to venture into alternative livelihood options that will enable natural regeneration to increase water quantity and quality and protect biodiversity within and along the wetland system. The funds catalyze the construction of a strong social support system for communities to promote catchment-based water resources management in Otiyino.

c/ GIZ
Handover of restored intake point to NWSC.
Launch of alternative livelihood options such as beekeeping.

Through the various events and exhibitions, the partnerships and NatuReS promoted stewardship and collective action as a solution for inclusive and sustainable management of natural resources. The significance of water partnerships and multi-sectoral collaboration has been highlighted as a sub-theme at UWEWK. We look forward to seeing the stewardship approach grow in Uganda and learning more about newly-formed partnerships at next year’s UWEWK.