UNESCO, SADC & Waternet Special Session on Water Security
November 7, 2016
Taking Communities Beyond Short Term Relief
Gaborone, Botswana.New challanges arise,due to the global climate change - many of them related to the regional water security. On the 25 and 26 of October 2016, UNESCO in partnership with SADC Water Division and other regional UN agencies met in Botswana developing strategies of long-term relief to the current food-water-energy challenges.
At the meeting, Lesotho was represented by the Deputy PS of Water, Mr, Rethabile Mosisili and Mrs. Bontle Ntsoaole, Programme Coordinator for Science at Lesotho National Commission for UNESCO.
The participants of the two day Consultative Meeting for SADC Regional Integrated Water Resources Initiative (SADC-WIN), Gaborone, Botswana
Climate change in Southern Africa is causing untold hardship as a result of extreme weather events such as droughts and floods. This is exacerbated by the current El Nino prevailing in the region which is negatively impacting on food security leaving an estimated 32 million people in the region food insecure (RIASCO, 2016). Several countries in the region, Lesotho included, have had to provide humanitarian assistance to provide immediate relief to the affected communities. While humanitarian response is necessary, very little attention has been paid to the root cause of the problem which is water related.
Long-term relief to the current food-water-energy challenges of the region
UNESCO in partnership with SADC Water Division and other regional UN agencies have proposed a more innovative and holistic approach to this recurrent challenges and have developed a regional initiative on integrated water resources management as means to providing long-term relief to the current food-water-energy challenges of the region. The overall estimated budget including programme support costs EUR 40,000,000.00.
UNESCO Regional Office of Southern Africa organised a consultative meeting to present the proposed initiative to different stakeholders such as SADC member states, SADC Secretariat, UN Agencies (GIZ, OXFAM and FAO) and Waternet Regional Programme.
Speaking during the official opening of the meeting, the Representative of UNESCO and Director of UNESCO Regional Office of Southern Africa, Professor Hubert Gijzen said the situation is urgent, and while there is global humanitarian response plan in place, this is not enough, as SADC members we have to top this up with over 24 billion US dollars. This however, he said, will not prevent future occurrences. As humanitarian responses are extremely costly, it is good that partners at this meeting are committed to assisting but the important question to ask is. “What have we learnt from this catastrophe?”
Joint partnership and commitment to long-term resilience building
The consultation meeting included presentations, dialogue, sharing of good practices to consolidate the proposed SADC-WIN for building long-term resilience to water-food-energy security. One of the expected results of the meeting was the joint partnership and commitment to long-term resilience building to the recurrent food and energy insecurity through a coordinated regional integrated water resources management, governance and capacity development for action.