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Final Call for Papers 2ND IGAD WATER DIALOGUE FORUM

Author: Jemal Mensur

Background

Water is a driver for regional cooperation and is one of crucial issues in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region. Starting from its establishment in 1986, to the present, IGAD has been striving to gets its people out of poverty and protect them from recurrent droughts and food insecurity. It also became apparent during the Covid 19 pandemic that water was called upon to realise the health protocol of hand washing amongst rural areas and urban informal settlements. The IGAD region, consisting of eight Member States, namely Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda, and its 70% land mass is composed of Arid and Semi-Arid areas where groundwater is the main water source. Groundwater has the potential for providing water security and socio-economic benefits in the region. Having this in mind, IGAD with support of the World Bank initiated the Horn of Africa Groundwater Initiative Project with the objective of helping the countries prepare for sustainable development and management of groundwater resources in the region. This is being done through strengthening knowledge systems, building capacity and assessing the feasibility of specific investments in an integrated and coordinated manner so as to achieve food security, avoid potential or real water related conflicts and attain peace and sustainable development. The HOA Groundwater Initiative Project aims at promoting investment in groundwater development for improved water and food security, and regional integration and cooperation in sustainable water resources management through improved knowledge of the available groundwater resources
In order to provide an opportunity for dialogue and exchange of experiences and views among the policy makers, practitioners, civil societies, development partners, private sector, researchers, and academicians, IGAD decided to hold Regional Water Dialogue Forums regularly. The first IGAD regional Water Dialogue was held in Nairobi, Kenya from 8th – 10th December, 2014. Based on the experiences gained from the 1st IGAD Regional Water Dialogue Forum , the 2nd IGAD Regional Water Dialogue Forum on Groundwater for Resilience is planned to be held in Entebbe, Uganda from 5th to 7th October 2021. This dialogue will be used as a tool to assist IGAD in executing its mandate in the water sector through: (a) providing an opportunity for all stakeholders to discuss groundwater and other related themes; (b) creating synergies among all ongoing and planned water-related projects and programmes; (c) aligning development partners’ water-related programmes to IGAD water resources management policies and strategies; and (d) agreeing to water resources related investment areas.
The 2nd IGAD Water Dialogue Forum will be held under the theme “Groundwater for Resilience” The overall theme will be discussed under five sub- themes namely:
(a) Groundwater for peace and stability,
(b) Groundwater for food security and climate change,
(c) Groundwater for socio-economic development,
(d) Groundwater for drought resilience, and
(e) Groundwater capacity building .

Sub-Themes

The 2nd IGAD Water Dialogue Forum has five sub- themes whose details are described below:
1. Groundwater for peace and stability
Water can be either a source of cooperation or conflict. In IGAD region the utilization of Transboundary groundwater resources should be based on equitable utilization and no significant harm. This would create a joint utilization of the water resources for peace and security. This sub-theme will assess the role of groundwater in promoting peace and stability of the IGAD region.
2. Groundwater for climate change and drought resilience
Food insecurity is the hallmark of the IGAD region, even if the region has high water resources potential. The proper utilization of water resources is very crucial particularly in view of the climate change in the region. This sub- theme will therefore critically examine the role of groundwater for achieving food security and address the challenges related to climate change.
3. Groundwater for socio-economic development
Groundwater resources are widely developed and utilized in the IGAD region to support various socio-economic activities. The role groundwater plays in socio-economic development of the IGAD region is often not well known and appreciated. The sectoral approach to water resources management and development usually leads to inefficiency, and waste of resources. There is therefore a need for coordinated and integrated approach to groundwater development and management in order to effectively achieve socio- economic development of the region. This sub-theme will focus on the role of groundwater and how integrated and coordinated groundwater development can contribute to sustainable socio-economic development of the IGAD region.
4. Innovation in groundwater financing and technological development
Drought has remained the defining factor of the Horn of Africa. In spite of decades of attempts to address this chronic problems, drought still remains large in the region. A new approach seems mandatory and IGAD’s Drought Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI) should address this under the banner of ‘investing differently to  end drought emergencies in the IGAD region’
5. Capacity building in Groundwater
IGAD under the HoA Groundwater Initiative Project has undertaken several capacity building and training activities on groundwater. However, a lot still needs to be done to ensure that the required capacity is build to support sustainable groundwater development and management as the region is faced with a huge knowledge gap on groundwater, skills in groundwater issues and lack of frameworks for transboundary aquifer management. This sub-theme will focus on experiences with building capacity in groundwater and what more needs to be done to build the required in the IGAD region.

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