South-South Cooperation on Water

Partnership for the SDG

January 31, 2024

Water was on the agenda as UNDP facilitated South-South knowledge sharing between Ethiopia and China. The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 focuses on ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all as a basic human right. 


Ethiopia is sometimes referred to as the water tower of Africa and the country has in place several policies, strategies and guidelines, as well as pilot programs and projects related to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Investments are also underway in hydro-power, irrigation and water supply. However, more needs to be done to fully deliver on the commitments around SDG 6.


UNDP’s interest in water stems from the understanding that it is the entry point for the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. 

UNDP-Ethiopia’s extensive climate portfolio seeks to help the country address institutional and capacity gaps to effectively address the water issue with a focus on climate-smart agriculture and integrated watershed management. Interventions have also targeted local communities, helping them diversify their income and create employment opportunities, particularly for women and youth. 

Supported interventions are also helping to mitigate the impact of drought and increase food security, with investments in water storage infrastructure (boreholes, drilling, irrigation facilities) for multiple uses ranging from drinking water to irrigation, and deployment of innovative and efficient water resource management approaches. There is a heavy burden of work for women and girls who regularly spend long periods fetching water, and investments in water solutions help lessen this load.

Sharing knowledge 

A Technology, Innovation and Sustainable Water Management for Localizing the SDGs Symposium was held in Nan’an, Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, China from 25 to 26 January 2024. The event falls under UNDP’s ongoing Water Governance Programme in China and is hosted by UNDP with contributions from JOMOO Group. 

The international symposium creates opportunities for key stakeholders, including international organisations, think tanks, government policymakers, NGOs, and Chinese enterprises to exchange knowledge, experiences, and innovative solutions around water management.  

Participants from Ethiopia included the Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Health, as well as staff from UNDP Ethiopia. During the knowledge-sharing sessions, participants from the ministries exchanged perspectives and priorities on Ethiopia’s WASH practices. Expectations were also explored by participants to tap into South-South Triangular Cooperation to facilitate global exchange and sharing of best practices. 

Participants also visited several tech demonstration sites in China, showcasing the successful application of various technologies in water governance, and also engaged with local authorities. 

Solar is another area where UNDP is leveraging a South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) between China, Ethiopia and UNDP. In collaboration with the Government of China, UNDP will be supporting the installation of a solar-powered irrigation system for 5.53 hectares of land for smallholder farming communities in Ethiopia. More than 300 farming households are expected to benefit from this support, and this is expected to improve the communities’ access to water supplies and enhance the production of cash crops and high-value crops.

Solar panels installed in Wolaita Sodo