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).

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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.

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Translating On-The-Ground Successes into Policy Action: Advocating For Integrated Freshwater Conservation and WASH in Uganda

ABCG FWWASH Workshop held in Uganda on October 2020JGI 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.

ABCG FWWASH workshop field visit Uganda Oct2020This 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:

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