Session FT 1.34
Water infrastructures for sustainable and equitable development
International Water Resources Association
International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage
International Hydropower Association
International Commission on Large Dams
International Association oh Hydraulic Engineering and Research
Addressing the key issues of meeting the MDG’s of fighting poverty, hunger and assuring human health and safe environment by securing services for irrigation , drainage , access to clean drinking water and sanitation , clean and renewable hydro-electricity , protection from flood and draught and fostering efficient water transportation is clearly the role of water infrastructures in the sustainable and equitable development. Representatives of major scientific societies outlined the role of science and state-of-the-art in their respective fields in support of sustainable and equitable development. Country representatives presented actual policies and practices from Egypt, China, Former Soviet Union, Turkmenistan, and Uganda. The challenges faced by these countries laid out the basis for the follow up discussions. A series of key recommendations were made and presented by the Moderator supported by the participants. The recommendations stressed the importance of creation of stable and robust financing system in support of developing countries, strengthening the capacity of national and local institutions, sustained political will, the need for innovative mechanisms for technology transfer, modernization of management and financing, promotion of universality of access to food, clean water and sanitation and electricity city for all.
- The last century witnessed the largest water infrastructure development in the history of humanity. At the dawn of the 21st Century, this infrastructure provided great benefits for humanity, However, during this last century we have also made mistakes and many infrastructure developments have had unexpected and negative consequences. We have learned the need to assess much more carefully the impact of infrastructure development on our environment
- Everybody needs access to a clean, safe, cheap and healthy food supply. We cannot rely only on agricultural trade, since 92% of the cereals consumed are in the places where the cereals are produced, irrigation infrastructures should be developed to face rising demand.
Low returns on investments in agriculture, and the long period of time to repay the investments call for innovative financing mechanisms. Furthermore, the profits derived from energy and hydropower developments have been steadily increasing. whereas, food and fibre commodity prices have been staying constant, and in some cases decreasing with time.
- There is an evident lack of information and capacity to implement environmentally and technically feasible solutions in some developing countries. There is a need for a more institutionalized capacity building system to provide the short, medium and long term needs of technology transfer and information dissemination for river basin and regional scale projects.
- Governments in developing countries are finding difficult to implement large scale water infrastructure projects without international donor commitment. The problems of crumbling water infrastructure in their countries, and the need for the international donor community to come to the rescue and help countries to renew, rehabilitate and modernize their water infrastructure
- Some panelists alluded to the fact that governments were unable to make the necessary commitments for infrastructure renewal and regular operation and maintenance. In Central Asia, government budgets for operation and maintenance had dropped from $60 per hectare to less than $8 per hectare. The result is that infrastructure is rapidly deteriorating. This is not a sustainable situation.
Recommendations for action
- Commitment by the international financial institutions of bilateral and multilateral to fund US$280 billion over 10 years in water infrastructure needed by less developed nations in Africa, Asia, Caribbean and Latin America, especially to renew, rehabilitate and modernize existing infrastructures. The international donor community should work more proactively with governments to implement large scale water infrastructure projects.
- Institutionalize the South – South cooperation in water infrastructure development through assistance from the emerging economies to lesser-developed nations in the areas of capacity building, technical support and technology transfer for major project planning, design and implementation. There is a need more for a stronger database on the social, economic and environmental benefits of water projects, and the science and technology capacity of developing countries must be expanded to undertake the needed research, and data generation and analyses
- Political commitment from governments to fund, develop and maintain water infrastructure for the benefits of all inhabitants irrespective of income, location and ethnic origin.
- Development of innovative financing mechanisms to attract the private sector and local organizations as effective partners at the local community levels in developing countries is needed. We need to involve other related private sector agencies in the financing of irrigation projects, eg. energy companies, fertilizer companies, seed companies, machinery companies, and those agencies involved in the provision of agricultural services through Public Private partnership for instance. Pricing arrangements for energy and agricultural commodities should be assessed, in light of the prices being paid to farmers and the costs of irrigation projects.
- Assist the development, organizational and management capacity of local organizations in the private sector, NGO and civil society organizations to undertake planning, management, operation and maintenance of water infrastructure. The need to work with all stakeholders, in both upstream and downstream areas was stressed. We need to evaluate projects at the river basin and region scales, so that people both upstream and downstream of infrastructure projects benefit from these projects.
- We must take into account the multi purpose role of infrastructure. Providing secure and affordable food supply will require investments in irrigation and drainage infrastructure. These investments in dams and reservoirs for irrigation also can be used for energy and flood control.. This is very much a win win situation. We are all in the boat together. We either sink or swim. We must all work as partners.