Africa’s water challenges
Containing 9 percent of the world’s water resources and 11 percent of the world’s population, Sub-Saharan Africa is not necessarily “water poor.” However, the region faces numerous water-related challenges that threaten economic growth and jeopardize livelihoods: Only 5 percent of the region’s cultivated land is irrigated; the rest is rain-fed and highly susceptible to climate variability. Hydropower, the main source of electricity, is largely underdeveloped. Current installed capacity represents 10 percent of the sector’s potential. Urban electrification is at 60 percent, while rural electrification is at a mere 14 percent. Only 58 percent of people have access to safe drinking water and these levels are actually declining in many cities due to urban migration and lack of bulk supply. These challenges are exacerbated by limited water storage and management capacity, a rapidly expanding population, and increasing climate variability; they are further complicated by the transboundary nature of the continent’s waters, given that 76 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa falls within 53 international river basin catchments crossed by multiple borders.
While cooperative management and development of transboundary waters present complex challenges, they also provide tremendous opportunities to optimize regional benefits and mitigate shared risks, including those of climate variability and change. For example, a multi-sector analysis of the Zambezi River shows that cooperation could lead to a 23 percent increase in firm energy production without any additional investments. However, political, technical, environmental, and financial complexities involved in cooperative action often result in stalled investments or in the adoption of sub-optimal development choices that have significant costs, many of which disproportionately impact poor and vulnerable populations. The urgency to facilitate cooperation around shared waters in Africa increases as competition for the resource grows and climate change intensifies hydrological variability and unpredictability.
CIWA as a response
The Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA) is a multi-donor trust fund established in 2011 and represents a partnership between the World Bank and the governments of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. CIWA supports riparian governments in Sub-Saharan Africa to unlock the potential for sustainable and inclusive growth, climate resilience, and poverty reduction by addressing constraints to cooperative management and development of international waters. CIWA will achieve this by improving the quality and accessibility of information, strengthening institutions, and providing support for preparing and improving the quality of investments with regional benefits. CIWA leverages the comparative advantage of its host institution, the World Bank, which offers strong technical expertise in international waters and water-related sectors, while also having the power to convene a wide range of stakeholders.
Currently supporting both long-term engagements in key transboundary basins and short-term, catalytic activities across the African continent through a program of US $71 million, CIWA has an ambitious target of mobilizing $200 million for cooperative transboundary water management and development over ten years.
CIWA’s design is informed by lessons learned over decades of work fostering cooperation in international waters. In particular, CIWA aims to capitalize on the successes of and lessons from the joint partner engagement around the Nile Basin Trust Fund (NBTF) and translate these to its work continent-wide.
Lessons Learned on Cooperation in International Waters
A framework for thinking through CIWA’s support
CIWA recognizes that the primary driver for cooperation among riparians in a basin is Action on the Ground, i.e. all value-adding investments in information, institutions, and infrastructure. CIWA also recognizes that, in order for these investments to be able to jointly contribute to development goals of riparians, a host of foundational elements are required. These foundational elements, collectively called the Basin Framework, comprise of data and information, transboundary agreements, institutions, investment plans, and operation agreements.
CIWA works to strengthen the various elements comprising the Basin Framework to inform and improve the quality of Action on the Ground; to catalyze Action on the Ground informed by the Basin Framework; and to connect Action on the Ground to the Basin Framework to facilitate achievement of sustainable climate resilient growth and poverty reduction.
Program Objective & Results areas
CIWA’s overall program level objective is to strengthen cooperative management and development of international waters in Sub-Saharan Africa to facilitate sustainable and inclusive growth, climate resilience, and poverty reduction.
Towards this objective, CIWA designs its activities to achieve the following four results:
Poverty as a core focus
The World Bank aims to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity. CIWA contributes to ending extreme poverty by advancing initiatives that protect the poorest from water-related risks. Though initiatives that improve sustainable use of groundwater, for example, CIWA helps ensure poor farmers have access to water sources on which they rely for growing food. CIWA promotes shared prosperity by advancing water resources management at the local, river-basin, and transboundary levels through activities such as allocating water to maximize the social and economic values of water, taking a coordinated approach to increasing water storage to deal with increasingly volatile weather systems, and undertaking watershed management activities that improve water quality.
A balanced program
CIWA strives to maintain a balanced program in many respects. The program is designed to commit to a few long-term programs in order to support institutional development in priority basins, but also to remain flexible enough to address strategic opportunities where a shorter-term engagement will unlock the potential for cooperation.
CIWA believes that international cooperation on transboundary water must be firmly tied to both water resources development and management and seeks to reinforce this through its portfolio. CIWA also strives to balance its support in advancing information, institutions, and investment, depending on the needs of a particular basin.
What types of work does CIWA do?
Lessons learned from the Nile Basin Trust Fund (NBTF) and Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA) till date suggest that steady progress towards transboundary cooperation can be made through long-term sustained support to a given basin with weak institutional capacity. Experience has also shown that given the event-driven nature of many collaborative opportunities, shorter-term support in the form of analytical work, capacity building, technical assistance, etc. can often propel cooperation within a basin. Recognizing the varying needs and opportunities across Africa, CIWA is designed to provide long-term support to a few priority basins, but remains flexible to address short-term, strategic opportunities as they arise.
CIWA delivers three categories of work through two sub-programs, as indicated in the figure below.
Whom does CIWA work with?
Experience suggests that transboundary cooperation between multiple riparian countries is best developed at the level of the river basin where shared resources of the basin is a unifying concept. In this regard, many riparians have formed River Basin Organizations (RBOs) or similar initiatives around lakes and groundwater with the function of supporting riparians in the task of cooperative management and development of their shared water resources. CIWA thus works with RBOs and with organizations that work in the joint management and development of aquifers and lakes.
Lessons in promoting cooperative management and development of international waters have also shown that multiple entry points with various types of institutions are often required to promote effective cooperation. Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are generally mandated with the promotion of economic cooperation across different sectors in their regions, many of which are directly related to water. CIWA thus works with RECs with the objective of:
CIWA also works with civil society institutions that support strengthening of civil society participation in processes and programs that promote transboundary water cooperation on issues including environmental conservation, gender equity, livelihoods, poverty reduction, and others. By supporting communications and knowledge dissemination to assist with informing and building ownership in this key group of stakeholders, CIWA seeks to promote their engagement in consensus building for regional cooperation on transboundary waters.
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The Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA) 2014 Annual Report summarizes the progress and impact of the program in FY14. The report showcases the breadth of CIWAs portfolio, describing the programs engagements across the continent in East, West and Southern Africa primarily in the Nile, Niger, Volta, and Zambezi basins. Important catalytic activities, including the Political Economy of Cooperation, a Multi-Sector Opportunities Analysis in the Okavango Basin and efforts to make important water and climate information more accessible through the Spatial Agent app are also featured