Access to water is limited in many parts of the world. Constructing dams is a way to controll the supply, like here in Jessore in Bangladesh.
Photo: Elisabeth Lorenz/Sida
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 is often a source of conflict, as watercourses do not respect political boundaries between countries. More than a half of the world's water resources are used by at least two countries. It is therefore important to build effective regulatory framework and institutions that will manage shared water resources, as well as to establish a good dialogue between the different parties. Management of water resources receives up to one fifth of Sida's overall aid to water sector (2012).
As climate change becomes more visible, disasters with droughts and floods increase in many countries. Climate change adaptation and risk prevention efforts are also part of Sida's work.
Six countries sharing water from the river Volta
An example of how common watercourses can create problems is the Volta River in northwest Africa, a river that flows through six countries. The regional programme was created to counteract the political tensions between Ghana and Burkina Faso, after accusations that the construction of dams has drastically decreased the flow of water. To solve the problems, it was important to promote cooperation and involvement of all parties. An important part of Sida's work has focused on strengthening regional organisations to raise awareness about the common water resources. Today, Burkina Faso and Ghana have established a common regulatory framework that regulates how water from the Volta delta should be monitored and managed. One concrete outcome of the programme is the establishment of the Volta Basin Autority, which was created by all six countries.
The support for management of Volta’s water is one example of how Sida works regionally. Another African river is in a similar situation: the Okavango, in southern Africa. A third of our support to water and sanitation sector is precisely used for regional efforts.
Sida also supports the International Centre ICIMOD's efforts to enhance the resilience of mountain communities - especially among women – by improving the knowledge about vulnerability, as well as by identifying adaptation options and developing action strategies in the upper Mekong-Salween river basin. Cross-border issues such as climate change and water require cross-border solutions. ICIMOD is the only regional organisation that focuses on mountain areas and has been assigned to work in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region.