Most of sub-Saharan Africa is under pressure from increasing population growth, urbanization, and consumption, as well as poorly planned infrastructure development. All these factors are negatively impacting the quality and availability of freshwater resources. Major watersheds attract development, and the resulting development leads to increased pollution due to inadequate wastewater management infrastructure, as well as contributing to increasing and competing demands, which can lead to scarcity (ABCG 2019).
In an effort to bridge this gap, the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) Freshwater Conservation and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (FW-WASH) task group organized a webinar focusing on Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) linkages in mainly rural settings and how Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) can advocate for their integration in policy and planning.
While speaking at the webinar, Ele Jan Saaf, a Senior Project Manager and Water Management Expert, noted that IWRM and WASH are divergent and emphasized the need to link rather than integrate them. He added that, the concepts of IWRM and WASH are different in that IWRM is a management concept. IWRM is responsible for providing water at the right place, right time, and of the right amount for WASH services or ecosystem services. On the other hand, WASH is a service delivery concept. It takes the water allocated to it by IWRM and ensures it is available as safe drinking water and also ensures the disposal of wastewater is done in a hygienic fashion.
Ele Jan advised WASH practitioners based on techniques the Watershed Program uses for lobbying and advocacy. “In Watershed we have a strong focus on lobbying and advocacy. We also have a strong focus on messaging and working with the CSO partners in our countries to make sure they are able to develop messaging and identify the target group for their lobbying and advocacy activities within the spheres of IWRM and WASH,” said Ele Jan.
When it comes to messaging in lobbying and advocacy, WASH practitioners should focus on clarifying where the links between IWRM and WASH are, focus on what can realistically be done, and link up with other initiatives working on similar issues to create momentum by sharing and cooperating.
When talking about water conservation to the communities, CSOs need to develop a language that is most effective and that can elicit action. This means explaining the linkage of IWRM and WASH using basic and relatable terms as opposed to using technical explanations that only specialists understand.
The work of ABCG and other CSOs to create awareness on maintenance and provision of safe and clean water for communities, is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3 on health and 6 on water and sanitation. These are among the 17 universal goals set to help in fighting the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges being faced globally.
Watch the recorded version of the presentation on ‘IWRM and WASH linkages and how Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) can advocate for their integration in policy and planning’.
Download the Watershed’s Position Paper about the linkages between IWRM and WASH here: https://lnkd.in/dQXmaME.
Also, to learn more about how CSOs can develop an effective advocacy strategy, read ABCG’s Freshwater conservation and WASH advocacy strategy workshop facilitator’s guide.