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.

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ABCG Launches New Lessons Learned Publication on Translating Projects to Policies

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.

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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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Linking Integrated Water Resource Management and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

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).

FW-WASH FACILITATOR'S GUIDE

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.

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ABCG Launches Freshwater Conservation and WASH Advocacy Strategy Facilitators Guide

FW-WASH FACILITATOR'S GUIDE LAUNCHThe Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) members, Conservation International and the Jane Goodall Institute in collaboration with IRC WASH have developed the Freshwater Conservation and WASH Advocacy Strategy Workshop Facilitator’s Guide. Launched on August 20, 2020, through a webinar presentation, the guide lays out steps that conservation, WASH, and development practitioners can use to develop an advocacy strategy that can enable them deliver positive conservation outcomes.

Building on years of experience, the ABCG FW-WASH task group has translated decades of on-the-ground successes into long- lasting policy action. Recognizing the integral role advocacy plays in creating and sustaining momentum for progress on conservation and human health policies, the FW-WASH task group developed and ground truthed the guide.

The Freshwater Conservation and WASH Advocacy Strategy Workshop Guide consists of five parts, the main Facilitator’s Guide and 4 appendices:

  1. Advocacy Strategy Workshop Facilitator’s Guide
  2. Appendix 1: Advocacy Strategy Workshop PowerPoint Presentation
  3. Appendix 2: Country Context Presentation Template
  4. Appendix 3: Facilitator Workbook
  5. Appendix 4: Participant Workbook

The expected outcome of the guide is to have ABCG members and partners increase institutional capacity to address policy gaps and challenges to multisectoral, integrated FW-WASH policy in sub-Saharan Africa. Participants will build skills in advocacy strategy creation, communications, and advocating for changes in policy.

The objectives of the document are to:

  1. Provide individuals with guidelines for developing basic advocacy and facilitation skills and a process for building advocacy capacity of organizations working on FW-WASH.
  2. Present content and activities designed to develop basic skills in advocacy strategy design.
  3. Provide a platform for sharing existing advocacy experiences and expertise across one or more organizations.

When using this guide, please use the suggested citation below.

Suggested Citation: Walter, E., Sorto, C., Edmond, J., Mercurio, S. and Rozenberg, E. 2020. Freshwater Conservation and WASH Advocacy Strategy Workshop: Facilitator’s Guide. Washington, DC: Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group and IRC.

For questions about the methodology in the guide, please contact Elynn Walter (walter@ircwash.org) or Colleen Sorto (csorto@conservation.org).

Download the guide here: Freshwater Conservation and WASH Advocacy Strategy Workshop Facilitator’s Guide

Watch the recorded virtual launch of the guide here: Webinar recording and presentation of the Freshwater Conservation and WASH Advocacy Guide launch

About ABCG FW-WASH Task Group

ABCG is reducing watershed degradation and improving the health of freshwater ecosystems through linking freshwater conservation (FW) and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). In response to human-induced threats to biodiversity and freshwater resources in Africa, ABCG partners, Conservation International and the Jane Goodall Institute brought together conservation and development actors to address these multisectoral issues and develop solutions for improved human and ecosystem health in sub-Saharan Africa.

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