22 December 2011 – Sudan’s Ministry of Water Resources has taken an important step in promoting the formation of a shared vision for water resource management by hosting a workshop in Khartoum this week attended by a wide range of water users, including representatives of all major water-using ministries
The meeting was attended by representatives of 10 government ministries, in addition to civil society, universities, the private sector and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and was the latest in a series of water resource management forums held in Sudan in late 2011.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop, the Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources, Mr Adam Abbakar Bashir, called for input from the participants to enable the ministry to better serve the people by understanding the needs of different water users.
UNEP is supporting the Ministry of Water Resources in its implementation of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) as part of UNEP’s wider programme promoting sustainable and equitable environmental governance in Sudan.
The collaboration on IWRM is built on the recommendations made by Sudanese delegates on two study tours to South Africa in 2010, staged by UNEP in conjunction with South Africa’s Water Research Commission, during which they witnessed how IWRM has promoted an inclusive approach to water management in South Africa.
At UNEP’s invitation, the commission’s Director of Water Resource Management, Ms Eiman Karar, who holds both Sudanese and South African citizenship, visited Sudan in December to attend discussions in Khartoum with the federal ministry, and in South Darfur with the Ministry of Water Resources and Environment.
A technical group within the federal ministry has been established to lead the work on the formation of a water resources vision for Sudan, and to coordinate Eiman’s activities.
At the federal level, the work coincided with the appointment of a new Minister of Water Resources, Dr Seif Eldin Hamad Abdalla, and a change in the mandate of the ministry, which reflects a growing emphasis on water resource management.
This week in South Darfur, the state ministry kicked-off a new process of IWRM policy formulation with a team from across government at a town hall-style meeting hosted by the Deputy Governor of the State, Mr Abdelkarim Musa.
Implementing IWRM involves representative participation of all water users, which is a crucial element of rebuilding sustainable and equitable governance in a region emerging from a conflict in which competing control of scarce resources has been a key component.
UNEP representatives and Ms Karar worked with the technical team to chart the way forward with consultations needed for the policy formulation in the coming months in 2012.
A new water resources study for a piped water supply to the town of Kass was also presented at the South Darfur meeting.
UNEP is supporting the Groundwater and Wadis Department of the Ministry of Water Resources in this study and other projects to improve data management for water resources in Darfur.
Speaking at the meeting, the Minister of Water Resources and Environment for South Darfur, Mr Hassan Kaskous, linked the discussions on Kass and water policy by stating: “From now on, no urban water supply schemes will be implemented without an assessment of sustainability of the resources on which they depend”.
UNEP’s Programme Coordinator in Sudan, Mr Brendan Bromwich, said more attention to resource management is an important issue for water programming in Darfur following the emphasis on demands during the upheaval of the Darfur crisis, during which time the water resources have become severely stressed.
“We’re excited that these policy processes are proceeding both at federal and state level and that they are linked with the practical implementation of projects,” Mr Bromwich said.
“This roots the policy work in the realities of the federal system and the real needs of water users,” he said.
These practical steps in promoting both implementation of water schemes and equitable governance of water resources have been supported by the Darfur International Water Conference, which had a significant focus on IWRM.