Global Water Partnership, West Africa holds Meeting in Accra

PartnershipmeetingGlobal Water Partnership (GWP), West Africa, today began its Assembly of Partners (AP) meeting in Accra with the theme: “Water cooperation in West Africa: Meeting the challenge of commitments.”

According to the organisers, the theme is taken from the General Assembly of the United Nations declaration of 2013 as the International Year of water cooperation in 2010 with the slogan “water, water everywhere, but on condition to share.”

Objectives for the GWP/WA’s Partners Meeting are an introduction and adoption of the GWP / WA Chair’s report and introduction and adoption of the 2012 GWP/WA progress report and 2013 Work Plan.

The meeting also aims at updating the organs of GWP/WA through the renewal of their membership as well as engage in exchanges and discussions on the 2014-2019 GWP strategy and give guidance on the 2014-2016 work plan for West Africa.

Work of the GWP/WA Assembly of Partners, will thus focus on relevant actions that are taking place at different levels of River Basin Organisations (RBOs) in the region and is meant to inform partners and facilitate the reflection on the challenges and problems as well as lessons of water cooperation, with proposals to strengthen integration efforts and the consolidation of social peace around shared waters.

It is expected the meeting will generate exchanges on the establishment and operation of RBOs, for a better understanding of their interaction with Government structures and Civil Society Organisations.

Participants from Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Togo, are also expected to share with partners ongoing initiatives in the region and discuss the best strategies to maximise profit for countries.

The meeting, which is being organised by the Executive Secretariat of the sub-regional body headquartered in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in partnership with the Government of Ghana and the Country Water Partnership (CWP) of Ghana, was however preceded by preparatory meetings on Monday, May 6, 2013.

Preparatory meetings held included a meeting of existing Country Water Partnerships and a Steering Committee (SC) meeting to review various reports (financial and progress), the 2013 work plan with the budget and approval of the draft agenda of the AP meeting.

The draft agenda accepted by the SC members was submitted for approval to the Assembly of Partners May 7, 2013, while the SC was also tasked with reviewing any other matters to be submitted by the Chair and /or the Executive Secretary.

GWP/WA’s meeting is expected to allow the over 40 delegates of the 13 CWPs to discuss specific concerns to be submitted to the AP.

Issues to be looked at include a presentation on the West African Regional Policy of Water Resources, the role of the management bodies of shared waters, the presentation of water cooperation initiatives in the region, a working session on GWP Strategy 2014-2019 and guidance on the 2014-2016 work plan for West Africa and renewal of the organs of GWP/WA: Steering Committee, Technical Committee, and the Executive Secretariat as well as the recruitment of the Chair.

According to the organisers, the Assembly of Partners comes at a time when the GWP is at the end of its 2009-2013 strategy and has started thinking on the next strategy for 2014-2019 for which the GWP family wants a participatory process for the strategy.

Optimistic about the outcome of today’s meeting, the organisers stated in a brief that “The West African region has made great strides in terms of political integration with organisations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with 15 member countries with a guarantee of visa-free travel, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) with 8 states having the same currency.”

“ECOWAS has also entered the water control and collaboration for the management of water related natural resources as a noble ambition to accomplish in its work plan contained in the regional water resources policy. So the establishment of river basin authorities for rivers with no common management bodies for the benefit of its Member States sharing water courses is included,” they added.

There are already transboundary water management organisations, some of which are cited as examples of success in the world. These include the Organisation for the Development of the Senegal River (OMVS), which comprises four countries having many socio-economic achievements to its credit, the Niger Basin Authority (ABN) with 9 countries and the Organisation for the Development of the Gambia River (OMVG) which includes 4 countries.

On the other hand, the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) includes two West African countries which are Niger and Nigeria.

Quoting a comment made by the Director General of UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova at the official opening ceremony of the International Year, the brief stated: “Water is not just one subject among others, it is the central subject of international cooperation.  In 2010, the UN General Assembly recognised water as a human right and this must now be translated into reality. In a world where 300 water basins are shared between several countries, this can only be achieved through cooperation.”

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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