Submitted by guest blogger on Mon,09/21/2015

By Jerome Koundouno of IUCN’s Office for West and Central Africa.

The recent Stockholm World Water Week provided plenty of opportunities to explore the links between water and land rights, and the importance of these rights for ensuring sustainable development at both local and national level.

This was my second time at World Water Week. As regional coordinator of the Global Water Initiative (GWI) in West Africa, based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, I travelled to Stockholm with colleagues from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and partners from Mali and Senegal.

‘Water for development’, the theme that set the scene for this year’s conference, made the link with two big events on development and climate: the Sustainable Development Summit taking place next week in New York and the UN climate change conference in Paris in December. As a result, many of the sessions and workshops were about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how to ensure water is thoroughly integrated into the expected climate agreement.

This year’s theme fitted particularly well with our GWI work in West Africa on how to make large water infrastructure – especially dams and irrigation schemes – better in terms of benefit sharing and food security for local people. We presented a side event ‘Toward economically viable and socially just dams in West Africa’ in collaboration with representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Initiative Prospective Agricole et Rurale (IPAR, a Senegalese think tank) and local communities of the Niger River Basin.

Women working in irrigated rice fields in Bagre, Burkina Faso © Global Water Initiative

Women working in irrigated rice fields in Bagre, Burkina Faso © Global Water Initiative

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