The Emerging Academic Program Solutions
Students and young professionals coming from all over the world have innovative solutions to tell about at the 6th World Water Forum. Here is the summary of the Emerging Academic Program Solutions :
1. Good governance is the key
In order to ensure that the actions, opinions and needs of all who have an influence on and are influenced by water management are taken into consideration, sustainability assessments need to be backed up by multi-stakeholder engagement.
- It is important to take into account the expertise voiced by different actors including residents, policymakers, scientists, potential investors and enterpriseswho can participate in roundtable meetings, plan policies and assess investment opportunities. (Xiaoman Yu, People’s Republic of China)
- Furthermore, acknowledging the difficulty of incorporating the voices of the usually socially excluded, it is necessary to integrate the local community into decision-making processes to better understand the factors which influence the success of a project. Such factors include community culture, government roles and the available funds and resources. (David Rounce, United States)
- The management of water resources must also be adapted to geographical, political, economical, social and cultural particularities of regions. It is crucial to create a sustainable access to water by thinking globally and acting locally. Specifically, this means incorporating all three nodes of sustainability and creating solutions that are economical – (at fair prices), environmentally friendly (by preserving ecosystems and biodiversity), and socially inclusive (by creating participatory democracy). (Natalia Selivanova, Canada)
- A good water governance and managementalso relies on good communication. Today’s technological ability must be recognized to bring experts and population together, such as the use of a cellular telephone as a financial incentive to support water resource management plans. (Aaron Krolikowski, United States)
- The importance of a long-term vision across all levels needs to be at the heart of the solutions. Building in the long term and in a sustainable way should become a priority and be encouraged and rewarded, not only by governments. For instance, competitions for the title of ‘sustainable city’ / ‘sustainable region’ could be organized by the government and rewarded by a “good water management” label.
There should be no conditions to let people choose what kind of water management they want. Aid donors should stop tying their lending to economic policies or policies which have negative environmental and social effects. Structural adjustment loans and water and sanitation loans used to contain conditions requiring privatization, including service contracts, management contracts. If donors argue that they have changed their approach and that ‘conditionality’ has been replaced by ‘ownership’, little has changed on the ground.
The best water management doesn’t always rely on privatization or private public partnership. Local people and government should be the ones to decide what type of water management will meet poor people’s needs. We should promote a type of water management and provision that is the most adapted to local context, (community based management, informal water provision), inspired to what is working on the ground. regulation.
2. A better use of water to insure food security
Finding an optimal use of water in order to prevent waste is one of the major issues being faced today. Indeed, agriculture is one of the major water consumers, and yet it is indispensable to human life. To avoid waste, several levels of water use require attention and improvement. Many of the solutions mention alternatives to the high water consumption of agriculture.
- For instance, it is proposed to promote organic polyculture to compensate for the impact of urbanization on peri-urban agriculture, against intensive agricultural production which causes a deterioration of the environment. (Amanda J, India).
- Anthony Egeru, Uganda, suggests developing a Phytomass Growth model (PHYGROW), the mapping of grazing and migration routes and water points conditions using relatively cheaper technologies, in order to optimize water uses.
- A new irrigation system is also submitted by Bertrand Joel Foe Eloundou, Cameroon: the idea is to reduce the difficulty of watering for truck farmers imposed by the decrease of available water resources, adopting a new small irrigation based on the use of motor-pumps.
- Wasting food is wasting water. Reduction of food lost through regional food systems, better storage facilities and infrastructures will help limit the waste of water (Jessica Sharkey).
Also, some solutions underline the importance of capturing and stocking water.
- For example, Lauren Bulcock promotes small scale water harvesting, which could improve the efficient use of rainfall by capturing it on or near the site.
- The idea of setting up large water tanks on top of mountains using the water and ice stored from the winter months has also been put forward by Mohamed Manoufali. Nabil Mansouri presents an innovative project: the 100L Water Project which is an integrated rainwater harvesting and end-use.
In order to set up an optimal use of water, consumers also have a responsibility.
- Indeed, they should recycle their wastewater and transform it for domestic purposes. At the same time, they should use what they really need. For example, Natalia Selivanova emphasizes implementing restrictions such as the unnecessary use of drinking water for industrial purposes.
- The economy and markets should also be involved in this water use improvement. It has been proposed to create basin-wide water markets (Dominic Skinner), to implement and improve water trade (Yana Nazarova, Russia) and to work out a payment for the environmental services system (PES) (Bruce Charles Scott-Shaw).
3. Water treatment
Water treatment is a key link in the water use chain, as it is indispensable from a customer’s point of view with regards to the environment. Indeed, water treatment contributes to health improvement, and to the environmental cleanup. But most of the time, treatments are complicated, or expensive. Many solutions propose cheap and easy alternatives, using local material.
- For example, Björn Plüg, South Africa, proposes to implement new treatment plant re-using garden refuse as a source of carbon for the nitrate removal of treated landfill leachates. This solution aims at cleaning up waste waters and industrial effluents.
- Also, some African countries are lucky to own pozzolan in their ground (a volcanic rock). Indeed, this volcanic rock, when activated, can be used as a low cost and environmentally friendly way of filtrating water (Isaac Yves Nyengue Bahanak, Cameroon).
- In agricultural world, the installation of Biodigestor could contribute to waste-water-treatment decontamination while producing biogas (Pierre Paul Audate, Haïti Haïti).
- Another proposition is to improve the constructed wetlands technology for wastewater treatment, with active aeration or higher organic loads. (Viviana Valancia-Zuluaga, Colombia).
- A South African laboratory developed a very efficient water sanitizing filter (that is cheap and easily manufactured from biodegradable materials…) cheap, easily manufactured from food grade materials, biodegradable (Danielle Marguerite Du Plessis, South Africa).
Education is an often highlighted theme. Indeed, there is a need to empower people, especially the younger population, and make them a part of the solutions. It has been emphasized that if they learn the importance of water preservation and how to better use it, they will spread their knowledge into their community.
- According to Alex Zizinga, skill development among young people is key to sustaining all the mentioned priorities.
- For example, children and young people should be taught alternative water saving techniques for irrigation methods, recycling and reuse of water (Edward Mukiibi).
- Teaching children and youth how to use water is a step in the right direction, but it is not the sole answer. Some propose to make them real actors of this issue. In this way, Sajid Iqbal emphasizes the creation of Youth Water Clubs, which would aware the youth and population about proper water use and conservation through workshops, camping and conferences.
- Nicole Susan highlights that training young teens between ages 11 to 15 to become peer educators in order to then promote the building capacity and to provide training for their younger siblings and neighbors, could increase the effectiveness of current hygiene promotion interventions.
- Young people should be taught ICT, to facilitate communication in the cheapest possible way to educate and advocate for environmental issues (Hira Hafeez-Ur-Rehman).
In order to strengthen the effects of all solutions, knowledge should be shared on a national, international and local level. International scientific discourses should be compared to local knowledge. Eunjeong Park supports the creation of a locally originated epistemic community, incorporating the nationwide epistemic groups and the collected local knowledge.
Finally, to help people understand the issues and the difficulties of proper water management, Kimberly Ogren suggests Hydro-games, as a way to develop solutions for water management, at any scale, from local to international, exploring the “what ifs” of water management.
5. Information and data
A topic often mentioned in the solutions is access to data and information regarding hydrological matters. These solutions concern either the way data should be used or the models designed to forecast water management. A lot of solutions propose to use new technologies to get more accurate data and ease water management.
- For example, the use of freely available satellite images in a Geographical Information System (GIS) and of a web-based ICT tool in order to avail the processed data can help inform decision making processes (Bahal’okwibale Mulengera Patrick-Moïse, Congo).
- Access to this information is also another obstacle to tackle, and Xiaoman Yu’s idea, People’s Republic of China, is to build a database for decision makers . It would be equally open for public including NGO, enterprises, and research institutions.
- Following the same thought, the University of Texas has recently engaged in a project called World Water Online (WWO) aimed at linking geospatial, climate and observation data together and distributing this data across the globe while conforming to standards (Fernando Salas, United States).
6. Crises and risks management
Another theme highlighted by young people in their solutions is risk management. Risk may be understood as a natural disaster (such as flood, drought, hurricane…), or tribal wars triggered by water issues.
- Regarding natural disasters, one of the proposition is to promote a strategic planning for flood risk management, with a multidisciplinary networking approach, three levels of action (prevention, during and post-event) and above all a participatory management with the creation of a committee of health emergency, involving representatives of civil society along with political managers and technical staff specialized in this type of situation. (Camila Pozzer, Brazil).
- Mukhtar Mohamoud, Somaliland, suggests improving our resilience to variable rainfalls, for instance using underground aquifers, drought resistant crops, water harvesting…
- Around the world, water is a source of life, but also of conflicts. Eunjeong Park, South Korea, proposes to reinforce soft power of weaker countries in hydro-politics in order to overcome asymmetrical capabilities.