Session FT 1.04
Linking poverty reduction and water management - Reaching the MDGs through investing in water
The Poverty-Environment Partnership
United Nations Development Program
Stockholm International Water Institute
The objective of the session was to illustrate through the presentation of “local actions” how investing in water management can contribute to poverty reduction and all of the MDGs in different ways, not just those that refer explicitly to water and sanitation.
The session built on the framework for understanding poverty reduction developed by the Poverty-Environment Partnership. The framework provided a setting for the discussion of local initiatives that have explicitly addressed the role of water in poverty reduction and achieving the MDGs.
The presentations and discussion focused on lessons learned on the role of water in enhancing livelihood security, reducing health risks, reducing vulnerability and enhancing economic growth for the poor.
Water management needs to be linked to wider poverty reduction processes at national and local levels: this is the key approach to integrated water resources management, and part of a wider process of poverty reduction and sustainable development. The analysis presented in this paper identifies a wide range of positive experiences that demonstrate the potential for making these links. The paper argues that water management can impact on poverty reduction in a variety of ways, and that increased resource flows to water management have positive impacts on poverty (and, consequently, on health) and are beneficial in social, environmental and economic terms
Investing in water (and sanitation) is an economically sound decision, whether in large-scale infrastructure or in small local developments. Investments can generate rapid returns that make them competitive with investments in other sectors and are beneficial in wider development terms, tackling fundamental causes of poverty. The potential of encouraging local entrepreneurs in particular needs to be explored.
Doing infrastructure right: substantial new investments in water control infrastructure are needed, including major water control structures to increase storage capacity and regulate water flows, but these need to be part of a package of structural and non-structural measures that includes social, environmental and health safeguards.
Finding the finance: innovations in financing the water sector are essential if the potential of water in poverty reduction is to be realised. This includes both increased financial flows from the international community and, more importantly, actions to enhance levels of internal capital generation in developing countries, including from the private sector and the poor themselves.
Achieving the sanitation targets: for many countries there is little prospect of reaching the sanitation MDG without major changes in their approach and allocation of resources. Innovations in technical choices, financial mechanisms, information and awareness raising and institutional responsibilities are needed if this challenge is to be met.
Recommendations for action
- Integration of water into MDG-based Poverty Reduction Strategies and reforms to reduce fragmentation within and between government agencies through IWRM
- The improvement of local level water governance through decentralization, securing rights and enhancing institutional capacities that brings decision-making within reach of the poor
- The establishment of an effective regulatory system, including creating a level playing field to encourage investments by small local private sector enterprises
Local Action presented
IWRM to reach the MDGs in Kazakhstan
Tim Hannan, UNDP
The local action illustrated the importance of involving stakeholders from community level up to national government level in the process of developing an IWRM plan. This process created awareness within and between ministries of the importance and poverty impacts of investments in water. The local action also elaborated on the importance of harmonizing the various laws – water, environmental etc and the need for transboundary collaboration for effective pro-poor water management.
Reducing health risks for the poor through improved groundwater monitoring in the Riviera Maya, Mexico (LA1206)
Luis Marin, Instituto de Geofísica-UNAM, Mexico
Scientists and students from the Geophysics and Geology Institutes of the Mexican National University, as well as scientists from the Centro de Estudios del Agua have been carrying out hydrogeologic research including mapping groundwater flow directions, fracture and joint analysis (to determine what are the preferred groundwater flow directions). Working closely with divers from the Quintana Roo Speleological Survey, they have studied how the cavern and cave systems alter at a local and regional scale, groundwater flow directions. These maps are being fed into a regional Geographical Information System. This information is being used to develop groundwater monitoring systems that will help avoid problems with pathogen transport that severely impact on the drinking water quality of the poor people in the area.
Ecological sanitation solution for poverty reduction – examples from Mexico
Ron Sawyer, Sarar Transformación SC, Tepoztlán
The presentation underscored that additional economic and social benefits that can be derived from the closed-loop ecosystem-based sanitation approach to protect human health and water resource for improved livelihoods worldwide and especially in cities. A variety of local initiatives in Teploztlan were presented that explicitly have addressed poverty, environment and income generation through ecological sanitation initiatives.