The 2021 IUCN World Conservation Congress set the nature conservation agenda for the next decade and beyond and had a strong focus on post-COVID recovery, the biodiversity and climate crises, and on the role and rights of indigenous peoples in conservation. ABCG organized a number of events on, land use planning, climate change, integrating freshwater conservation and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, and Population, Health and Environment.
The Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) will be holding a course on “Advocacy for Ecosystem and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)” which was launched on August 4, 2021 through a webinar. The course is set to start on September 13- 30, 2021, with 15 participants.
Turning Concepts into Action: ABCG and IRC Hold Session on Advocacy in Africa at World Water Week 2021
At the recently concluded World Water Week 2021 that took place on August 23-27, 2021, ABCG and IRC held a session on Advocacy in Africa: Tools for integrating WASH-conservation in local agendas. Improvement of the health of freshwater ecosystems is one of the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) key focus areas. ABCG has a culture of promoting successful biodiversity conservation with multisectoral approaches, and this session shows how strong partnerships like these can advance our mutual water conservation, WASH and health integration outcomes.
The August 2021 Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) Quarterly News Digest features our latest news and upcoming events. Get to read about lessons learnt in the application and implementation of Freshwater Conservation and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (FW-WASH) advocacy strategies in South Africa and Uganda in translating projects to policies. As well as, lessons from Africa to the Navajo nation on freshwater resources management.
I come from the Diné (Navajo) people and live on the Navajo reservation. In my culture, we have a deep respect for water because all life needs water to exist. We also value water because there is so little on the Navajo reservation. The Navajo Nation is in the southwestern part of the US, bordering Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado.
The Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group has launched a new report, Translating Projects to Policies: Lessons Learned Applying the FW-WASH Advocacy Strategy Methodology in South Africa and Uganda. This report provides lessons learned in the implementation of advocacy strategies.
Water Means Building Resilience among Vulnerable Populations through Integrated Programming: World Water Day 2021
We join the rest of the world in marking World Water Day celebrated on March 22, 2021 by promoting integrated freshwater conservation and WASH (FW-WASH). This year’s theme on valuing water, raises awareness of the vital importance of water to safeguard human security and maintain the health of the planet’s ecosystems. ABCG is reducing watershed degradation and improving the health of freshwater ecosystems through linking freshwater conservation and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).
2020 Achievements, Lessons and Plans for 2021: ABCG Freshwater Conservation and WASH Task Lead Shares
In December 2020, the ABCG FW-WASH task lead, Colleen Sorto, who is also the director of development partnerships at Conservation International, shared a special year-end message reflecting on the year that was coming to an end, and the inspiring work that the task group is looking forward to in 2021. In the message, Colleen shared how the task group made significant progress in pushing forward for the integration of freshwater conservation and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (FW-WASH) despite the global challenges. In Uganda for example, a mandate was established at the district level to coordinate and create new tools so that water projects can both include consideration for WASH and environmental conservation. In South Africa, the task group received additional budget and funding for their activities from the district government because of the project intervention connection to WASH investment. Watch the 2 minutes video as well as read the transcript below:
Colleen Sorto year-end message
Hi, I’m Colleen Sorto, I’m the director of development partnerships based at Conservation International’s headquarters in the United States, I’m also the ABCG task lead for the theme on integration of freshwater ecosystem conservation and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, also known as WASH. Our task aims to improve the coordination between these two groups of the water sector (freshwater ecosystem conservation and WASH). Our work is focused on field demonstration of successful integrated models, educating community stewards and government champions on these connections, and advocating for policy funding or planning changes to enable integration at a larger scale.
Despite Covid-19, our task members still had some great achievement in 2020. In South Africa, the Conservation South Africa method of clearing alien invasive plants, which both support natural resource management strategies but also increase the availability of water, received additional budget and funding from the district government because of its connection to WASH investment.
In Uganda a mandate was established at the district level to coordinate and create new tools so that water projects can both include consideration for WASH and environmental conservation.
These achievements would not have been possible without our previous efforts with local communities to demonstrate what this looks like in practice.
In 2021, we are going to be releasing a lessons learned report that outlines additional learning from the advocacy process which we hope others in sub-Saharan Africa can benefit from as they also work to improve and promote integrated models of water resource management.
As this year comes to a close and we enter 2021, we sincerely hope to see more conservation and development practitioners adopt integrated approaches to protecting human and ecosystem health. And we hope that our work can continue to inform but also share with practitioners who are looking to grow the FW-WASH community of practice.
Translating On-The-Ground Successes into Policy Action: Advocating For Integrated Freshwater Conservation and WASH in Uganda
JGI Robert Atugonza presenting a progress report on the FW-WASH project to the workshop participants during training of the Sectoral Committee in Masindi, Uganda on the tools developed to integrate FW-WASH. Photo credit: Edirisa Isabirye
The Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) aims to reduce watershed degradation and pollution by linking Freshwater conservation and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (FW-WASH), thereby improving the health of freshwater ecosystems. ABCG’s FW-WASH task group is applying FW-WASH integration tools that have been developed over the course of the project to engage local community actors in development activities. These activities are geared at mitigating impacts and provide compensation for biodiversity loss to deliver positive conservation outcomes.
The project is now translating on-the-ground successes in policy action and have developed key advocacy resources to advance this work to the next level. One key tool being used by the task group is the ‘Freshwater Conservation and WASH Advocacy Strategy Workshop Facilitator’s Guide’. This guide lays out steps that conservation, WASH, development and conservation practitioners can use to develop an effective advocacy strategy that can enable them deliver positive conservation outcomes. This guide was developed by IRC and ABCG members (Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) and Conservation International). In addition to the advocacy strategy guide, the task group has developed guidelines and tools for integrating Environmental Conservation into FW-WASH activities. These tools include: i) Environment impact monitoring form, ii) Environmental and social management plan, iii) Environment certificate; and iv) Reporting (screening) tool on WASH.
In Uganda’s Hoima and Masindi District, JGI is using these resources to translate on-the-ground successes into policy action. JGI Uganda with the help of the local communities is advocating for the inclusion of integrated FW-WASH in planning, budgeting, implementation and reporting by the District Water Council.
JGI Uganda conducted a workshop in October 13-14, 2020 that was aimed at sensitizing, training and enrolling political leadership of the district as FW-WASH champions who appreciates the need of conserving freshwater ecosystems. And secondly, to secure approval of the tools to integrate environmental conservation into WASH activities developed by ABCG in 2019 and later on adopted by the Works and Technical Services Committee (DWSSC). This was intended to develop a consensus on the need to present a policy proposal to the District Council that will guarantee Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) actions in all capital development projects implemented by the district.
This workshop targeted the Masindi District Production, Natural Resources, Works and Technical services Communities (DPNRWTSC) and District Technical Staff who will implement the FW-WASH tools once approved by the District Council. The participants took part in workshop discussions and a field visit to have a practical experience of how the tools will be used. They visited two sites, a protected spring in Pakanyi Sub County and a borehole in Mirya Sub County which have WASH infrastructure. This presented an opportunity to pretest the planning and monitoring tools whereby each team member was asked to identify the environmental impacts of the infrastructure and their mitigation measures.
Activities conducted during the workshop resulted in the Sectoral Committee approving the tools. Secondly, it was resolved that the tools be presented to the District Executive Committee and Council for a policy to be developed.
With these advocacy efforts, ABCG hopes to be able to put in place a district level mandate for FW-WASH, mechanisms for coordination, and tools to facilitate the delivery of water projects that include both WASH and environmental conservation.
Read more about ABCG’s efforts to integrate FW-WASH:
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.