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Water Convention Partners on Training for Improved Transboundary Water Investment in Africa

Transboundary water resources constitute nearly 80% of Africa’s freshwater resources. In this context, increased regional cooperation and joint planning, development and management of water investments and infrastructure are essential to meet targets for agricultural and industrial development, food security, energy security, climate resilience, and health improvement, as well as other sectors. However, facilitating investment in transboundary water implies the need to have the adequate tools and knowledge, especially a better understanding of international principles and norms that governing transboundary water resources.

To this end, the Water Convention, serviced by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), partnered on a training on Water Governance and International Water Law (IWL) for improved transboundary water investment in Africa. The training was held from 11-14 November 2019 and was hosted by the Water Resources Institute of the Ministry of Water and the Environment, in Entebbe, Uganda. 

The annual training was organized by Global Water Partnership (GWP) together with UNECE and other partners including: Water Resources Institute of the Ministry of Water and the Environment, Uganda; Makerere University (Uganda); Northumbria University (UK); Nile IWRM Net/CapNet; the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD); the African Network for Basin Organizations (ANBO); Senegal River Basin Organization (OMVS); UNDP, GEF; New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD-AUDA); African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW); GIZ, the European Union and the Geneva Water Hub.

Over 42 participants from 22 countries whose work relates to transboundary water cooperation attended the training. The strong diversity of pan-African participants was reinforced with representatives from river basin organizations, universities technical and financial partners as well as regional and sub-regional institutions. UNECE supported the training with funds provided by the European Union.

The training builds on previous versions of this training which the Water Convention regularly partners on and is aligned with the emerging needs of Africa to facilitate transboundary water investments and better recognize the role of groundwater in integrated water resources management. It also complements past regional workshops in Africa that the Water Convention has convened with the aim of deepening the understanding and commitment for implementation if the two UN global water conventions, namely: the 1992 Water Convention and the 1997 Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (Watercourses Convention).   

Indeed, there is a very promising momentum in Africa towards accession to the global UN water conventions. Chad and Senegal in 2018 were the first African countries to accede to the Water Convention. Many others have expressed formal interest in acceding to the Convention and started national accession processes, while other are also looking into this opportunity. Thus, there is a clear opportunity in the region to build further capacity and momentum regarding the Conventions. It is also crucial to foster implementation of the Conventions as accession should be a means to advance transboundary cooperation concretely.

The training let to strengthening capacities of institutions of countries and basin organizations in Africa in addressing issues related to transboundary water resources management through enhancing knowledge and skills necessary for promoting cooperation among countries. The water Convention secretariat contribute in discussion on global Conventions. Senegal and Ghana representatives also shared with participants their experiences and motivations in joining to Global Conventions.

The training was conducted in both English and French with simultaneous interpretation.

More information can be found at GWP webpage and in the event announcement.

An online training on international water law, developed by the University of Geneva, Geneva Water Hub which participants were expected to undertake before the training is also available.

For information on the back-to-back national meeting regarding Uganda’s interest in accession to the UN Global Water Conventions, please see here.