UNDP Around the world

Integrated Water Resources Management

Integrated Water Resources Management

The competition for available water resources in much of the developing world is growing rapidly due to ever-increasing and conflicting demands from agriculture, industry, urban water supply and energy production. The demand is fueled by factors such as population growth, urbanization, dietary changes and increasing consumption accompanying economic growth and industrialization. Climatic changes are expected to further increase the stress on water resources in many regions.

The traditional fragmented approach is no longer viable and a more holistic and coordinated approach to water management is essential. This is the rationale for the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approach that has been accepted internationally as the way forward for efficient, equitable and sustainable development and management of the world’s limited water resources. The emergence of climate change as a major new threat that primarily manifests itself through the hydrological cycle underscores the importance of incorporating climate change adaptation in the water sector.

UNDP assists countries to achieve equitable allocation, develop capacities and implement integrated approaches to water resources management through adaptive water governance to reduce poverty and vulnerability, sustain and enhance livelihoods and protect environmental resources.

UNDP’s Response

  • Transboundary Waters Programme

Through its Transboundary Waters programme, UNDP is supporting over 100 countries in the preparation of shared waters governance frameworks in some of the world’s most important shared waterbodies such as the Nile, Okavango, Orange/Sengu, Senegal and Niger river basins in Africa; the Danube, Dnipro, Tisza and Kura rivers in Europe; Lake Chad and Lake Tanganyika in Africa; the Artibonito River basin in the Caribbean; and Lake Baikal, Lake Peipsi and Lake Prespa in Europe/CIS. UNDP supports joint ‘fact finding’ by countries to identify and agree upon priority issues and their causes, and helps countries to prepare and implement joint action programs of governance reforms to address priority challenges.

  • UNDP Water Governance Facility at Stockholm International Water Institute

The Water Governance Facility provides policy advice and technical support to developing countries to promote progress on MDGs. WGF works in multiple thematic areas, including integrated water resources management (IWRM), transboundary water, water supply and sanitation, water adaptation to climate change, gender and capacity development. It promotes water governance knowledge development and exchange of water reform experiences and best practices. WGF works through the UNDP framework and operates in close collaboration with UNDP regional and country offices. The Water Governance Facility:

  • Develops and supports development and implementation of projects and programmes.
  • Designs new tools and methodologies for addressing and working with water governance related issues.
  • Enhances knowledge on water governance issues through publications, capacity building activities and training programmes.
  • Contributes to international monitoring and assessment processes.
  • Cap-Net – Network for Capacity Building in IWRM

UNDP recognizes the key role of capacity building to manage competing demands and improve equity and efficiency in water use and management. Through the international network for capacity building in integrated water resources management, Cap-Net, UNDP is scaling up local capacity development through strengthening of capacity building networks, developing and sharing tools and training materials, sharing and exchanging experiences and supporting delivery of capacity building.

Cap-Net is made up of a partnership of over 20 autonomous regional and national capacity building networks and three thematic networks linking more than 300 capacity building institutions and knowledge centers across the world. The programme receives core support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sida and the EU and its global secretariat is hosted by the Water Research Commission in Pretoria, South Africa.

  • Mainstreaming Human Rights and Gender Equality

Equality and non-discrimination, participation and accountability are core concerns of water governance. UNDP promotes the practical implementation of a human rights based approach in its work to improve water resources management and access to water supply and sanitation. Developing experience, lessons learned and guidance aims to improve the capacity of water professionals and development practitioners to mainstream human rights in policies and programmes.

UNPD also emphasizes the importance of addressing gender equality in water initiatives to ensure more equitable water resources management and human development opportunities for both women and men. UNDP supports capacity building to mainstream a gender approach to water. Tools, such as the Resources Guide on Gender and Water Management, assist practitioners to incorporate gender perspectives to improve efficiency, sustainability and equity in water resources management and water supply and sanitation.

  • Small Island Developing States IWRM Programme

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are particularly vulnerable to increased stresses on water resources as populations grow. With limited land resources and even more limited fresh water resources the pressures of economic development coupled with climate change associated climate variability make water shortages, flooding, soil erosion, pollution and salinisation a present day reality.

UNDP, in partnership with UNEP, is presently supporting all Pacific and Caribbean SIDS to address these challenges through the preparation and implementation of national IWRM plans whereby the island ecosystems including land, freshwater and coastal zones are addressed in a systematic and coordinated manner. In parallel, a series of demonstration projects are piloting on-the-ground strategies for implementing IWRM at island level for up-scaling and replication in other islands. The aim of the support is to improve the assessment and monitoring of water resources, reduce water pollution, improve water use efficiency, access to technologies and strengthen institutional arrangements. A similar program is in preparation for the SIDS around the African continent and the Indian Ocean.

  • Promoting IWRM in Central Asia

In Central Asia, UNDP has started a 5.4m USD project together with the European Commission to promote IWRM and foster transboundary dialogue. The focus lies besides policy and institutional reforms in supporting the governments to develop national investment and development strategies, accompanied by a number of demonstration projects in the areas of rural water supply and sanitation irrigation efficiency and small-scale hydropower. The project works also on transboundary level aiming at facilitating cooperation on shared waters and contributing to developing bilateral activities. Capacity building on IWRM approaches and tools, and supporting IWRM dialogue are amongst the priorities on the regional level. Climate change adaptation issues are also addressed as the region is highly vulnerable to climate variability and change, and water stress could become even more severe than at present.