Building Water Leadership

This government-led Programme will strengthen leadership and collaboration in water resources management (WRM) and WASH governance, generate evidence, norms and standards for inclusive and climate-resilient water and sanitation policies and strategies, and support to identify and address systemic and financial constraints to improve WRM and WASH services.

April 20, 2022, 3:25 p.m.

The Global Water Leadership (GWL) in a Changing Climate Program is under implementation in 10 countries of Asia and Africa, including Nepal with funding from the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to support to establish effective, evidence-based policies and strategies; implement inclusive, climate-resilient water policies and strategies; and accelerate climate-resilient systemic change. The Global Water Partnership Organization (GWPO) and UNICEF with other strategic partners will support the government to implement this Program.

This government-led Program will strengthen leadership and collaboration in water resources management (WRM) and WASH governance, generate evidence, norms and standards for inclusive and climate-resilient water and sanitation policies and strategies, and support identifying and addressing systemic and financial constraints to improve WRM and WASH services. In Nepal, GWP Nepal/Jalshrot Vikas Sanstha (JVS) and UNICEF support the implementation of WRM and WASH components. The Water and Energy Commission Secretariat (WECS) and Ministry of Water Supply will lead, coordinate, and facilitate its implementation. WECS organized a Launch and Inception Workshop of this GWL Program in March 2022 to inform and sensitize multi-stakeholders about its components, outputs, and outcomes with key activities and seek their inputs.

Er. Dinesh Kumar Ghimire, Secretary of the Government of Nepal, currently at WECS informed national initiatives on SDG targets on water and expressed commitment and willingness to lead this GWL Program to achieve its desired outcomes. Er. Ghimire appreciated the support of the UK Government to improve the resilience, health and livelihood of poor and vulnerable communities in Programme countries by addressing bottlenecks and barriers, identifying investments, and accessing climate finances to make inclusive and climate-resilient water resources and WASH services.

Chaired by Saraju Kumar Baidya, Joint Secretary at WECS, the Launch session was addressed by Er. Tiresh Prasad Khatri, Joint Secretary at MoWS, Surya Nath Upadhyay, Secretary-General at GWP Nepal/JVS, Lal Induruwage, Regional Coordinator, GWP-SA, and Dr. Budhi Setiawan, UNICEF Nepal. Speakers focused on several issues related to WRM and WASH services and key issues are summarized below:

  1. Climate-induced disasters have adversely affected water resources and WASH services and demand urgent actions to help people and natural resources to adapt and build resilience to climate change, generate knowledge and evidence-based information to formulate policies and laws, and identify areas for investment, and means to access climate finance.
  2. GWP has a mission to ensure water security and advance governance and management of water resources for sustainable development, and hence requires extensive multi-stakeholder consultations to generate knowledge and share experience & learning for securing water effectively.
  3. Nearly 3.5 lakhs people in Nepal are directly affected by climate-induced incidents in the last five years with an economic loss of over US$ 141 million, and it is urgent to accelerate progress on climate-resilient WASH services and IWRM against the backdrop of the 2030 Agenda, Paris Agreement, and International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development.
  4. Nepal has progressed in WASH services as reflected through improved health. Over 50 drinking water and sanitation projects are damaged each year due to landslides and floods. This GWL Programme is expected to contribute achieve SDG 6, NAP and NDC targets.
  5. Experiences of the adverse impacts of climate change and climate-induced landslides, floods, and drought show possible extreme weather in the future and Nepal should implement prioritized adaptation programs on water resources and the WASH sector to adapt and build resilience to climate change.

During the inception workshop, speakers outlined a number of issues and challenges in the water sector such as inadequate adaptation interventions, coping and preparedness for water-related disasters, transboundary water issues, shortage of water supply and sanitation facilities along with inadequate capacity, technology, and finance. They urged to implement critical laws, harmonies policies and coordination structures, expand stakeholder participation, create mechanisms for data capture and sharing, expand partnerships to unlock co-financing opportunities, and increase revenue for Integrated WRM.

In South Asia, every child is exposed to at least one climate and environmental hazard. By clustering activities into eco-zone programs, children-centered disaster risk reduction, climate-resilient WASH, and shock-responsive social protection, UNICEF is supporting the government to address key challenges and barriers such as lack of understanding, insufficient data, competing priorities, service delivery models, and focus on 'infrastructure' than 'service' on climate-resilient WASH services.

On this backdrop, the GWL Program is expected to identify and address systemic and financial constraints, facilitate in-country multi-stakeholder change processes on IWRM and climate-resilient WASH services, support to advance climate-resilient plans and policies for water, and develop capacity, share knowledge, and communicate results. GESI would have greater value in this Program.

Nepal has established a strong basis for engaging multi-stakeholders and promoting GESI through existing policies, strategies, legislation and guidelines, and institutional responsibilities. IN recent years, women's empowerment has increased in managing resources, accessing property and education, and making decisions. However, the difficulty lies in identifying stakeholders for meaningful participation. Overlapping institutional responsibilities, lack of legal ownership on land and property, climate-induced water insecurities, and ineffective coordination mechanisms as key gaps and drivers while root causes and barriers are related to multi-culture and multi-ethnicity, societal rules and traditions, inadequate understanding, and 'benefits to privilege group'. Opportunities exist to increase stakeholder engagement, implement GESI-friendly policies, laws, and guidelines, and make GESI focal points effective with reservation in key positions, increasing engagement in decision-making processes, and exploring livelihood improvements.

Key stakeholders for the GWL program range from policymakers to general people at national, provincial and local levels. Mandated institutions should effectively work to make WRM & WASH service climate-resilient, link gender-responsive budgeting indicators in sector programs, and identify and mobilize GESI-sensitive social change agents and leaders for transformation.

Recalling water quantity reduction in pine forests, participants urged for effective coordination between drinking water & forestry sectors, promote IWRM in action, support of WASH services in remote areas, and building the capacity of needy people. In Nepal, GWL Program is expected to internalize an integrated approach to make WRM and WASH services climate-resilient by advancing the multi-stakeholder change process.

batu uprety111.jpg

Batu Uprety

Former Joint-Secretary and Chief of Climate Change Management Division, Ministry of Environment (then), and former Team Leader, National Adaptation Plan (NAP) formulation process. E-mail: upretybk@gmail.com

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