Delft, The Netherlands, 18 Sep 2015

New SDGs: UNESCO-IHE in action part 2

Water security plays an important role in several of the SDGs. Agricultural water management plays a central role in food production and food security. On the one hand, poor water management practices contribute to depletion and degradation of land & water resources. On the other hand, improved water management plays a vital role in increasing food production and reducing food insecurity as well as supporting sustainable land and water resources development.

Water security projects

UNESCO-IHE has been and is involved in a variety of water security related projects, where research is being carried out on e.g. drought forecasting, groundwater dynamics; innovative agricultural practices; IT solutions; water scarcity & water abundance and integrated water resources management. Below you will find a selection of projects of which we are proud.

DEWFORA: drought forecasting in Africa 

For the DEWFORA project, which was completed last year, UNESCO-IHE as part of a large consortium, developed a framework for monitoring, predicting, timely warning and responding to droughts, applicable to institutions in African countries. Drought is considered a natural hazard with a very large impact on people and the environment and is one of the largest water related disasters in Africa. Read our story about drought forecasting.

ESCACES: Evaluating groundwater in times of scarcity and of abundance in Colombia

Improving the knowledge on groundwater resources in the Valle del Cauca in Colombia, and the interaction between groundwater and surface water, both in times of water scarcity and of water abundance, will help the local environment agency responsible, to manage the resource sustainably. In collaboration with Deltares and CVC (Regional Environment Agency in Columbia), UNESCO-IHE is researching the dynamics of groundwater in the Valle del Cauca, an area of key socio-economic importance in the country by improving the knowledge and capacity on groundwater resources and the interaction with surface water, through field research and modelling, as well as help understand the role of groundwater in flooding. The project will also consider how the knowledge acquired can be scaled up to the rest of Colombia.

EartH2Observe: Global Earth Observation for Integrated Water Resource Assessment

EartH2Observe is a collaborative project funded under the DG Research FP7 programme of the European Commission. The goal is to handle global water resources better, including water scarcity issues and related human factors. The project began in January 2014 and will run for 4 years until the end of 2017. The overall objective is to contribute to the assessment of global water resources, through the use of new Earth Observation datasets and techniques. For this purpose, the project will integrate available earth observations, in-situ datasets and models, to construct a consistent global water resources reanalysis dataset of sufficient length (at least 30 years). The resulting datasets will be made available through an open Water Cycle Integrator data portal: the European contribution to the GEOSS/WCI approach. The datasets will be downscaled for application to case-studies at regional and local levels, and optimized based on identified European and local needs, thereby supporting water management and decision making.

MaMaSe: Improving water safety and security in the Mara River Basin in Kenya

The MaMaSe Sustainable Water Initiative is aimed at improving water safety and security in the Mara River Basin to support poverty reduction, sustainable economic growth and conservation of the basin’s ecosystems. In this four year programme running from 2014 to 2018, the people and institutions in the basin are supported by a process of structural change, working towards a more sustainable, productive basin. The outcomes of the programme will be improved water safety and security, contributing to poverty reduction, economic growth, ecosystem conservation, and self-reliance of the people in the basin. To bring about these changes, the MaMaSe Initiative is focused on five solutions:

  1. A water management strategy supported by local authorities and stakeholders
  2. Conservation of existing forests and restoration of depleted forests
  3. Sustainable management of rangelands outside the Masai Mara Reserve
  4. Creation of sustainable modes of finance
  5. Support for activities that improve water quality

The MaMaSe initiative is supporting Sustainable Development Goal on water (SDG 6) and will include a focus on increasing water-use efficiencies in all sectors. The project supports the following targets of Goal 6.

  • By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate
  • By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes
  • By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies

Mobile water management in Mozambique

VIA Water supports innovative projects that solve water problems in African cities, many of which are related to the targets of SDG 6. VIA Water is a cooperation between UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education and Aqua for All, and is being funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They recently started up the first signed project, Mobile Water Management in Mozambique. By using smart phones to read out water meters, their project will be increasing water-use efficiency. VIA Water looks for bright and innovative solutions like this in many more areas (called their 12 'pressing needs'), including floods & droughts, groundwater, water harvesting, and water & sanitation.

VIA Water believes that there is more than enough potential in African cities to work towards SDG Goal 6 in innovative ways, which is why they are very proud of the fact that more than 70% of the so-far 150 received project proposals comes from their seven African focus countries (Benin, Ghana, Mali, Rwanda, Kenya, South-Sudan and Mozambique). Read more here.

About the SDGs

On 25 to 27 September, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be adopted by world leaders at the Sustainable Development Summit in New York. UNESCO-IHE has undertaken action to support the inclusion and achievement of water-related SDGs, in particular Goal 6 on ensuring access to water and sanitation for all. Much of the Institute's work contributes to Goal 6 or related environmental, notably by educating water professionals, undertaking research and developing innovative solutions to sanitation, environment and food security challenges.

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