Submitted by guest blogger on Wed,11/11/2015

Written by Peter Newborne, Research Associate Water Policy Programme, Overseas Development Institute-ODI

Access to water is crucial in arid and semi-arid regions. A key question is how far cities can require distant rural areas to provide water for their – growing – inhabitants.Read more


Submitted by Rebecca Welling on Tue,10/13/2015

There is growing recognition that water security is critical for sustainable economic development, reducing poverty and adapting to climate change. Yet a key aspect often overlooked in efforts to meet this fundamental need is the role played by ecosystems such as rivers, floodplains and wetlands – or ‘natural infrastructure’.

This is where the WISE-UP project, led by IUCN, comes in. It shows the value of natural infrastructure as a ‘nature-based solution’ for climate change adaptation and sustainable development. As the impacts of rainfall variability, along with population and economic growth, increase competition for water, solutions are needed that maximise the benefits provided by the basin – food, water for irrigation and energy production and so on – whilst maintaining the needs of the basin ecosystem itself.

Focussing on the Volta and Tana River basins of West and East Africa respectively, WISE-UP works with decision makers, encouraging them to consider solutions that are based on both natural and built infrastructure (including dams and irrigation channels).

Dialogue with decision makers to identify and agree trade-offs lead to conversations on more equitable and effective solutions that suit all stakeholders including farmers, local communities and government agencies. However, these conversations need the right tools and knowledge to integrate natural infrastructure into future planning and investment choices, together with the latest climate information to understand the future pressures on river basins.

Key questions arise in these conversations: are the initial project findings relevant to stakeholder needs? Is the research accessible, communicable, and applicable for key decision makers? Is there anything that project partners feel that hasn’t adequately been covered? 

Some of these questions were raised at the recent ‘action learning’ meetings held in Nairobi and Accra, led by our partners, the African Collaborative Center for Earth System Sciences (ACCESS) – University of...Read more


Submitted by guest blogger on Thu,08/27/2015

Authors: Laetitia Pettinotti (BC3), Marloes Mul (IWMI), Beatrice Mosello (ODI) and Naomi Oates (ODI)

At the Stockholm World Water Week and in the run up to the United Nations Summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development goals, “water for sustainable development” is top of the international agenda. Ensuring that investments will benefit all, from national to local interests, is the challenge at hand.

Over the last decade, there has been a revived interest in large scale water resource development. The argument is that large dams for irrigation and hydropower generation can contribute to adapting to climate variability and to mitigating risks, while boosting economic growth and reducing poverty.

However the potential for ecosystem services to contribute to water management, thus for nature to perform as natural infrastructure has frequently been neglected. The key question is: how can portfolios of built and natural infrastructures support pro-poor and climate resilient development? Drawing on research from the WISE-UP to Climate project, we pose this question based on two proposed developments in the Tana and Volta River Basins.

Rural-urban water transfers in the upper Tana, Kenya

The Tana River Basin provides over 70% of Nairobi’s water supply and produces a significant proportion of the country’s hydroelectric power. Many rural households intimately depend on the river’s ecosystem services to support their livelihoods and food production - crops, fish and livestock.

Although the river is coming under increasing pressure and its catchment is being degraded rapidly, the Tana Basin is relatively water rich compared to the neighbouring Athi Basin, where Nairobi is located. To help meet growing demands, the proposed ‘Northern Water Collector Tunnel’ (NWCT) has been designed to transfer an additional 140,000m3 from the upper Tana to the capital. The project is estimated to cost 6.8 billion Kenyan shillings.

Inter-basin transfers are a means to tackle imbalances...Read more


Submitted by guest blogger on Mon,04/27/2015

Lara Nassar of IUCN’s Regional Office for West Asia reflects on the power of networking from her experience at the recent 7th World Water Forum.

To many people in my region, networking is theoretical. It will not lead to action on the ground and more importantly, resources should be put into projects that directly benefit the local community in developing countries. For many years, being from Jordan myself, I thought so too.

During the World Water Forum, I helped staff the IUCN booth (which, if I may add, was amazing). I took great pride in sharing our activities with participants, showcasing our achievements, and explaining our work in West Asia and North Africa. I was able to share A toolkit for increasing climate change resilience in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) with many people, mostly from that region. These professionals were genuinely interested and willing to share it with others. This will help increase awareness about the participatory approach to environmental management that we use in the region to increase local community climate change resilience. But, I still ask myself, is this what networking really means?

At IUCN’s Regional Office for West Asia (ROWA), after two years of working with member organisations and partners under the Regional Knowledge Network on Water (RKNOW), this is no longer a project but an initiative, a strategic vision, a NETWORK.

During one of the forum meetings, ROWA partners and members took turns in voicing their long-term vision for this network. It was very interesting to notice that they saw this as a long-term partnership, a collaborative environmental network which will in turn create change on the ground, that will not end when the project itself expires.

From the past few years with IUCN, I have learned how beneficial networking can be....Read more