In order to combat water crisis in Africa, a team of water experts with the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) has agreed to increase the number of experts and research into more water sources.
Speaking at the closing of the fourth IHP United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) water science, policy and management conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday, UNESCO National Commission Executive Secretary Prof Elizabeth Kiondo said the conference focused on climate change effects, which resulted in a large and indefinite number of immediate and long-term impacts on water resources including floods, drought, sea-level rise, drying up of rivers, poor water quality and quantity in surface and ground water systems.
“Apart from lack of experts and inadequate researches, we need to have gender equality in the sector of water since it has been occupied by men, while women are the number one victims of the water crisis,” she said.
Deputy Minister for Water Gerson Lwenge said to find solutions, provisions for action at local, national and international levels were needed to ensure water had an economic value in all its competing uses and should be recognised as an economic good. He said it was vital to recognise first the basic right of all people to have access to safe and clean water and sanitation at an affordable price.
“Failure to recognise the economic value of water has led to wasteful and environmentally damaging uses of the resource. Managing water as an economic good is an important way of achieving efficient and equitable use and of encouraging conservation and protection of water resources,” he said.
He said fresh water was a basic natural resource, which sustained life and was also a finite and vulnerable resource as well as essential to development and environmental sustainability. “Effective management of water resources demands a holistic approach, linking social and economic development with protection of natural ecosystems,” he said.
He said we should not forget that water development and management should be based on a participatory approach involving users, planners and policy-makers at all levels and women played a central role in the provision, management and protection of water.
The IHP national committee chairman proposed to host the fourth meeting in Tanzania whereby the previous three were hosted in Nigeria, South Africa and Benin.