It is important to introduce environmentally friendly methods and regulations for the use of water resources in areas where people are completely dependent on shared watercourses. Among other initiatives, Sida has supported work around the Pungwe River in Mozambique.
Photo: Klas Palm
Water resource management
Climate change, pollution and a growing world population. When the pressure on the planet increases, the same thing happens to the pressure on the world's water. It is therefore a strategic objective for Sida to develop an ecological and sustainable way of thinking about water and sanitation.
Access to water can be a source of conflict, as watercourses do not respect political boundaries between countries. More than half of the world's water resources are used by at least two countries. It is therefore important to build effective regulatory frameworks and institutions that will manage shared water resources, as well as to establish a good dialogue between the different parties. Sida's financial support to the water sector was estimated to be approximately 4 per cent of Sida's total payments in 2014.
As climate change becomes more clearly noticeable, drought and flood disasters are increasing in many countries. Climate change adaptation and risk prevention are also a part of Sida's work.
Water and gender equality
Understanding and working with gender equality in water and sanitation projects raises the standard of households and improves health.
For this reason, Sida plays an important role in promoting gender mainstreaming in water, sanitation and hygiene projects and in supporting women's active participation in the planning, design, implementation and monitoring of contributions that have a focus on water and sanitation. Gender disparities – together with a usually inadequate access to wells, pumps or other tapping points, pollution of water sources, poor hygiene and cultural taboos about menstruation – are causes that hinder the work with water and sanitation. Ensuring access and the right to drinking water and satisfactory sanitary conditions for women and men, girls and boys requires active work in order that changes will be made.
Both cultural and historical reasons mean that it is usually the women who have the primary responsibility for collecting, transporting and also using water in many places in the world. They also tend to have the main responsibility for health, care of children and managing water. This division of labour results in different priorities for the use and management of water. But in many societies, women are not represented in decision-making bodies, either locally or at higher levels, and so part of Sida’s work is to actively increase women's participation in political processes. Gender equal work with water and sanitation solutions improves the health of women and girls and increases their security by reducing the risk of assault and abuse because they do not have to go as far from home to fetch water. Improved access to toilets and water that is separate for boys and girls in schools also helps to increase girls' school attendance and reduce the stigma surrounding menstruation.
Examples of Sida's work with water resource management
Good water gives good neighbours
The project Good Water Neighbours (GWN) is implemented by EcoPeace Middle East with support from bodies including Sida. The project aims to promote peace through eco-education, greater awareness and cross-border dialogue and is available in 28 communities with shared water sources in Jordan, Israel and Palestine.
A focus on water, an issue common to all, has helped to reduce the barriers between people where distrust and information exchange and communication between groups have been difficult.
GWN has served as a natural meeting place where participants have in various ways overcome language barriers and shared each other's cultures, religious beliefs and political opinions. The project has created and established a cross-border cooperation on the water issue and broken down stereotypes and prejudices. It has also resulted in the participating 28 communities improving the water and sanitation infrastructure, creating jobs and implementing a more sustainable approach to agriculture.
Cross-border issues require cross-border solutions
Sida also supports the work of the international centre ICIMOD to increase the resilience of mountain communities – especially among women – and ICIMOD's climate change adaptation programme, HICAP. This is done by improving knowledge of vulnerability, identifying adaptation opportunities and producing action strategies in the upper Mekong-Salween basins.
Globalisation and climate change affect the sensitive mountain ecosystems and thus also the livelihood of the people living in mountain communities. For this reason, ICIMOD works to increase the understanding of this change and how to adapt to change at the same as the organisation processes upstream-downstream issues.
Based in Kathmandu, Nepal, ICIMOD focuses on and is tasked with work in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan Region of the countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan.
Cooperation on water is a necessity
The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) works with UNDP within the UNDP Shared Waters Partnership (SWP) in order to strengthen and facilitate dialogue between countries that share water. SWP works actively to prevent conflicts over shared water by building trust and promoting a cooperation strategy between the parties. One of the most important objectives of the cooperation is to establish multi-party platforms to increase the political will and commitment in areas where water is, or might become, a source of conflict.
In areas such as the Mekong, SWP supports cross-border cooperation to promote food security. This is achieved by facilitating dialogue between non-governmental and state parties together with the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Development Partners Group. This is done by promoting cross-border cooperation and profit-sharing, partly through a greater link between regional integration and water cooperation.
Water in the textile industry
The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) cooperates with around 20 Swedish brands within Sweden Textile Water Initiative Projects (STWI). The project's first year, 2015, has already seen positive results from its activities. In the five countries that the project is active, Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, India and Turkey, water use has decreased by an average of 8 per cent. Energy consumption and the use of chemicals have also decreased, by 11 and 6 per cent respectively.
In 2015, STWI also helped to build up the capacity of the 72 factories that participate in the programme and that supply goods to Swedish brands from the five countries mentioned above. Savings in the factories' operating costs are estimated to be approximately SEK 39 million every year, resulting from the more efficient use of water, energy and chemicals. Between March 2015 and January 2016, more than 12,000 people in 72 factories in four countries received training in how to achieve a production that consumes less water, energy and chemicals. The STWI project has also been able to mobilise private capital corresponding to 176 per cent of the support received from Sida.