2030 WRG Partners with Government of Brazil to Lower Barriers to Industrial Reuse of Effluents

This blog was written by Stela Goldenstein

Brazil 2030 WRG recently established a working group in the metropolitan area of Campinas. The goal was to identify potential opportunities for investments in new industrial reuse units that treat sewage from cities in this region. So far, the Water Basin Agency and the Water Basin Committees of the Piracicaba, Jundiaí and Capivari rivers basins have developed the most successful institutional model for water management. They have brought water users and water managers together to regulate, plan, and invest in projects aimed at improving water quality and quantity in the region.

A conurbation of four metropolises, which are located in the state of São Paulo in southeast Brazil, houses a population of almost 34 million inhabitants. Together, these four metropolises generate a significant portion of the country’s GDP. Their vibrant economies are highly interconnected, and there is constant movement of people, information, and products across these four metropolises. These four metropolises are also tied to each other in another way; although they are situated in different watersheds, they share their water supply.

Keeping pace

The central metropolis is the Metropolitan Region of São Paulo. It has more than 21 million inhabitants and is installed at the headwaters of the River Tietê Basin. Despite the region’s immense water need, local water production is extremely low, and cannot meet the demands installed. Over the years, as the region expanded, more and more investments were poured into the region. To keep pace with the population growth and economic activities in the region, water was captured and transposed from nearby springs to the region.

As the regions—especially the Metropolitan Region of São Paulo—continue to grow, competition for water between their people and industries will only intensify. Climate change and poor water resources management further aggravate the situation. The resulting water stress is, arguably, the most serious systemic problem that the government and private sectors face in their planning processes.

Getting the water needed

Some will say that companies should be given priority because without water they need for their industrial productions, these companies will not be able to operate, and jobs will be lost. But technical and legal definitions define that public needs always deserve priority. The range of programs and investments needed to mitigate the conflict includes efforts to reduce the demands of water, as well as to adequate de offer, changing the standards for the supply and consumption of water.

Although industries need water for their production, they do not need high quality water that is safe enough for human consumption. Done right, final effluents from domestic sewage treatment plants operated by utility concessionaires should be of sufficient quality for industrial production. In other words, wastewater reuse by industries could play an important role in the effort to manage water scarcity in Brazil.

Sincere and open dialogue

The complexity and enormity of the task to manage water scarcity in Brazil call for an integrated and consistent set of actions and investments, including institutional framework adjustments, specific regulations, and innovative procedures to finance projects . For that to happen, there must be sincere and open dialogue between different spheres of government, between public and private institutions, and between utilities and municipalities, who are ultimately the grantors of water.

These stakeholders must discuss and come to an agreement on what they need to do to ensure sufficient reserves for potabilization. They also need to come an agreement about the scope and amount of investments needed to address the water needs of the population and the private sector in an equitable and sustainable manner.

Overcoming barriers

As mentioned earlier, reusing wastewater for industrial production holds great promise to address water scarcity in Brazil. Unfortunately, there are currently only isolated cases of wastewater reuse by industries in Brazil. Up to now, there are still many institutional barriers that stand in the way of increased wastewater reuse by industries. For this reason, Brazil 2030 WRG is working with the government and private sector to overcome these barriers.

In a similar fashion, the state government and industries of the regional also established a working group. They recently organized a technical seminar to initiate the consultation process for all stakeholders involved. Cities, their utilities, the State sanitation services, the region’s water-consuming industries, the state environmental agency, and the federal government all participated in the process. If this trend continues, industrial reuse of effluents from sewage treatment plants may soon become the norm.

This effort begun with a technical seminar to initiate the consultation process for all stakeholders involved. Today, cities, their utilities, the State sanitation services, the region’s water-consuming industries, the state environmental agency, and the federal government all participate in the process. If this trend continues, industrial reuse of effluents from sewage treatment plants may soon become official policy and an opportunity.

Photo credit:

Pacific Institute: Collective Action Toward Water Security in Brazil

NEWS SOURCE: Pacific Institute

Collective Action Toward Water Security in Brazil

By Abbey Warner and Giuliana Chaves Moreira
March 29, 2018


This year, the Global Compact Brazil Network and the CEO Water Mandate organized an event to bring together the Brazilian private sector, government, NGOs, and other organizations seeking to address water risks in Brazil to discuss water security challenges and solutions. The event, titled “Collaboration for Water Security in Brazil,” took place on March 19, in parallel with the 8th World Water Forum in Brasília, Brazil.


One significant outcome of the event was the partnership announced between the Global Compact Brazil Net, the CEO Water Mandate, and the 2030 Water Resources Group in São Paulo. Since mid-2017, the 2030 Water Resources Group has been working to advance water security in São Paulo through projects to reuse effluents from domestic sewage treatment stations and projects to improve the performance of sanitation services in small and medium-sized municipalities. The partnership formed during the 8th World Water Forum event will focus on advancing water security in Brazil through water reuse and the circular economy.

It will take coordinated action from a variety of stakeholders, including the private sector, government, and civil society, to meaningfully advance water security in Brazil. The Water Action Hub provides companies and others with the ability to connect to projects happening near them or find potential partners for future water stewardship action.


Could linking farmers to markets be the answer to poverty reduction?



Sugarcane field

By 2050, we will need to increase food production by 100% to feed expanding populations in developing countries. This is either from more farmers producing more food or, the same number of farmers producing more food. Enhancing farmer incomes by increased agricultural productivity will reduce migration to urban areas and ultimately, improve food security. But without assured buyers for the produce, this may not necessarily be the case.

I recently visited sugarcane farmers in western Maharashtra in India to learn why they continue to grow sugarcane although it is a water intensive crop. Turns out, sugarcane is resistant to most pests, needs little care and has a well-established supply chain. Given that the crop has an assured buyer in sugar factories, farmers have little to worry about their household income from agriculture. Even if a farmer has a meagre 2 hectares of land, he prefers growing sugarcane as it has a guaranteed return on investment. This makes it difficult for the farmer to give up the crop. At present, Maharashtra accounts for 34% of the national sugar output. Consequently, several government schemes and initiatives are designed to make sugarcane more water productive i.e. shifting from flood to drip irrigation, and improving sugarcane productivity. Currently, average sugarcane yield in Maharashtra is approximately 60 to 80 tonnes per hectare whereas its yields can potentially increase to 100 to 120 tonnes per hectare.

On the other hand, focusing on a particular crop might not always lead to positive outcomes. Farmers in drought prone district of Yavatmal in eastern Maharashtra had a different story to tell. Cotton, a dominant crop in this region was infested by the pink ball worm in the last season (2017-18). As a result, farmers faced several losses and did not receive the expected price in the market. Several women farmers organized themselves into self-help groups with the aim of supporting family income due to the losses incurred. But lack of market connectivity dissuaded them from taking actions to develop products such as baskets, papadums, jams, etc. Limited market access and low selling opportunities prevented them from contributing to the household income which could have compensated for the losses they realized through the ravaged cotton crop.

Linking farmers to the markets may help them move out of poverty by assured buyers for their produce and guaranteed income – giving a greater sense of security. Although establishing market linkages may take time, initiatives such as the new model Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing Act 2017, the government is keen on looking at agricultural marketing from a holistic manner. This is while giving farmers the opportunity to directly sell produce in the market or to whoever is willing to offer the best price without an intermediary. Organizations such as the International Finance Corporation is exploring innovative ways to unlock private sector investments and offer advisory services that help mobilize markets. The 2030 Water Resources Group (2030WRG), hosted by the World Bank, is bringing together public, private and civil society representatives to deliberate and discuss new business models and market-based solutions to support an end-to-end integrated approach for agriculture development, with a focus on water security.

In an effort to bring farmers closer to the market, in Karnataka in the Ramthal area, 2030 WRG facilitated partnership agreements between agribusiness companies (retailers, exporters, processing units) and Government of Karnataka for offtake of high-value agricultural and horticultural produce, thereby improving farmer incomes and livelihoods. Similar efforts are being carried out by 2030 WRG in western Maharashtra to maximize water productivity and improve market linkages for farmers.

Finding new ways to connect smallholder farmers to the market is critical for poverty reduction and improved livelihoods. It can also stem the flow of farmers to urban areas in search of better jobs and transform the rural environment as a place of production and value addition. Although realizing the vision will require a more collaborative effort from the government, private sector, civil society and rural communities, its results will be far outreaching.


Karishma_Blog_photoThis blog was written by Karishma Gupte, Coordinator, Maharashtra, 2030 Water Resources Group, The World Bank Group





Further reading:

Meandering river Peru

A disruptive approach towards achieving the SDGs

Meandering river Peru

This blog has been written by Karin Krchnak, 2030 WRG Program Manager, as part of our newsletter blog series.

Karin KrchnakFor the first time in my 25-year career, during the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015 in New York City, I heard government after government note the important role of the private sector in addressing our global water challenges. It took a great deal of effort to conclude the SDGs and the agenda is one that charts a better future for our precious planet. That is if—if we can meet those goals or at least make significant enough progress on them. The comments by governments in New York in 2015 highlight the realization that no set of actors alone can ensure the SDGs will be met.

The 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG) was formed out of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos where there was a realization already in the early 2000s among corporate leaders that water issues, both quality and quantity, had the potential to significantly impact their operations, both current and future. Water topped the list of WEF Global Risks Report in 2015 for the first time, with many of the other risks (e.g., extreme weather events, failure of climate change adaptation) linked to how we manage water. The outlook is not getting better, with a business as usual approach by countries leading to approximately 40% gap between freshwater supply and demand 2030.

On January 1, 2018, 2030 WRG officially moved from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), where it sat after its incubation at WEF, to the World Bank, specifically to the World Bank Water Global Practice. While the IFC will remain an integral part of 2030 WRG, the change is intended to scale 2030 WRG’s innovative multi-stakeholder approach to help governments meet the extensive challenge of the water security agenda and leverage the wider potential of the World Bank Group to build momentum to help meet the SDGs.

I truly believe that only through collective action across stakeholders will be able to ensure a more sustainable future. In addition to my new role as Manager of 2030 WRG, I remain active in the World Water Council (WWC). The 8th World Water Forum, hosted WWC and the Government of Brazil, to be held in Brasilia in March 2018 will include the business community. A Business Day will be held the day before to the Forum, to be hosted by leading business associations. In addition, there will be High Level Panels with a focus on business and water scarcity. This is an evolution that I have witnessed first-hand in water fora over the last several decades where stakeholders are coming together to share and learn from each other, including the private sector as active contributors.

We all have a steep road ahead of us when it comes to water and meeting the SDGs. Not simply SDG6 on water, but all the others (e.g., energy, agriculture, poverty) that depend on us getting water right—as I termed it SDG6+. 2030 WRG has supported the creation of approximately 46 working groups across 14 country engagements where government, private sector and civil society are working together to reduce the gap between water supply and demand by digging in together on such areas as mining, wastewater reuse, and agricultural supply chains.

Multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSPs) are not new. I have been involved in many in my career. But having joined the recent Steering Board Meeting of the MSP in Karnataka, India, this is the first time where I have seen a platform where government actors across agencies (e.g., water, agriculture, planning), the private sector, and civil society take joint decisions on improving water resource management and then follow up with action. MSPs take time to build but once formed on a basis of trust and agreed understanding of the hydro-economic situation of a country or basin, the potential is there to drive toward action on the SDGs.

The MSPs that 2030 WRG has helped develop include the highest levels of government, private sector and civil society. They take decisions on actions in watersheds, basins, and policy changes at the national level. While each of the MSPs is transforming water resource management in their own country or state, they are also shaping the broader agenda on water. MSPs in Mongolia, Bangladesh and Peru, for example, are breaking through on economic incentives and water valuation, something that I have seen missing in the water space in the last decades but which has also gained traction through the High-Level Panel on Water. MSPs thus function individually but also collectively.

I feel honored to be leading 2030 WRG, as its disruptive approach is a part of the process toward achieving the SDGs. We could not progress without the efforts of all the partners and the continued engagement with new ones as we climb the steep road to 2030. I truly hope that in 2030 we can look back and say we achieved the SDGs — or at least made significant progress toward them. I do not know how I can look my daughter in her eyes if I did not feel I had at least some small part in that.

Karnataka Multi Stakeholder Partnership for Water: A Journey in Progress

Most people who work in the water sector would associate their work in some way with Sustainable Development Goal 6 which has several objectives related to the achievement of water security in its several manifestations. But there is little discussion of the fact that the path to the realization of Goal 6 lies in Goal 17 which is about the need for partnerships. This is a journey which is not always straightforward, sometimes not in a tidy sequence and almost always requires patience and persistence. Despite these possible road bumps, the 2030 World Resources Group has embarked on this journey in several countries, among them India and among the states in India also in Karnataka.

The first step has been to arrive at a productive working relationship with the State Government based on a mutual identification of the water security challenges that need addressing. This is the first part of the journey. In turn, this needs a sustained effort to bring together a group of organizations in the private and not for profit sectors that can bring competence and commitment to projects and processes that can show demonstrable results in specific locations. There is then the challenge of scaling up the approaches demonstrated in these projects across the state.

The work streams that have been identified for this purpose are particularly relevant for a number of reasons.

The problems of impending water stress make the promotion of efficient use of water for agriculture, by far the biggest user of water, an imperative for conservation and sustainability. This is very much a direction that the State government is committed to following and in which farmers and private sector organizations can work together to apply new technologies, drip irrigation among others. By working on sugar cane and paddy, the biggest users of water in the agriculture sector the potential for scale is enormous. But conservation of water has to be combined with efforts to support livelihoods of farmers which is why the promotion of farm to market corridors is so important as another step in the chain to maximize the benefits of water-efficient agriculture.

The workstream on the treatment, recovery and reuse of wastewater can benefit not just urban residents but also generate water for industrial use and agriculture in the surrounding hinterlands of towns and cities. Which is why the State Government’s policies on mainstreaming this approach are so important. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s interest in systemizing this approach is not only of benefit to industrial users of water but also is a way of demonstrating private sector’s support to the larger goals of sustainability and the promotion of public benefit.

These efforts require not just continuous effort but also the ability to record, analyze and disseminate the results to make a strong case for such approaches over ever increasing geographies. And imagination is needed to turn large amounts of data to usable information and knowledge, not just to members of the partnership and other practitioners but also more widely to members of the lay public. This is where civil society organizations can play a significant part.

As the work grows in scale and complexity there will be an inclination to immerse ourselves in our own projects and work streams. Without compromising any attention to detail it will be important to keep ourselves abreast of the work of other organizations in the state (eg the Gnana Aayoga, the State Knowledge Commission and the Advance Center of Integrated Water Management) which are also committed to the development of sound water policies and practice. Even if complete convergence is not always possible, duplication and contradiction can be avoided in this way.

Ravi Narayanan
Co-Chair Steering Board
Karnataka Multi Stakeholder Partnership for Water

Ravi Narayanan is currently Chair of the Asia Pacific Water Forum, International Mentor to the Japan Water Forum, Chair of the Water Integrity Network and Advisor to the Arghyam Foundation in India. He was a member of the World Panel on Financing Water Infrastructure (the Camdessus Panel) and the UN Millennium Task Force on Water and Sanitation. He is an associate of the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bangalore, India. With degrees in Physics and Engineering from Delhi and Cambridge Universities, Ravi began his career in the corporate sector in the UK and India before moving to the not-for-profit sector. As part of the latter, he was formerly Asia Director for Action Aid and Chief Executive of Water Aid. He was awarded an honorary CBE by the UK Government in 2009 for water and sanitation services to poor communities in Asia and Africa. Ravi Narayanan is a resident of Bangalore.

WEF Blog: “Why the answer to water insecurity is working together”

Davos, Switzerland – 25 Jan 2018

This article is part of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting and is written by Elsa Galarza Contreras, Ministry of Environment of Peru and Jane Nelson, Director, Corporate Responsibility Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School

Water insecurity poses one of the greatest risks and leadership challenges of our generation. It threatens the well-being and livelihoods of millions of people. It has started to undermine food, energy and industrial production and damage economic growth prospects in many countries. It raises the spectre of failing systems, large-scale involuntary migration, political instability and conflict.

Demand for water is expected to exceed supply by 40% by 2030. New technologies, financing mechanisms, delivery models, voluntary standards and policy and regulatory innovations will be required to address this growing gap. Governments must take the lead in enabling these activities and making tough choices to allocate water resources among different uses and users. To be effective, however, they will need to consult and cooperate more strategically with stakeholders in business and civil society.

In the absence of such collaboration, it will be impossible to achieve the type of technical, behavioral and political changes that are needed to improve water governance at global and national levels, as well as in water management and local use. The 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG) demonstrates what is possible.

The 2030 WRG was established in 2008 as an informal consortium of some of the World Economic Forum’s members, including the IFC, McKinsey & Company, the Barilla Group, The Coca-Cola Company, Nestlé, New Holland Agriculture, SABMiller, Standard Chartered Bank and Syngenta. Today, it has evolved into a multidimensional, public-private partnership with country-led implementation platforms at its core. Hosted by the World Bank Group, its mission is “to help countries achieve water security by 2030 by facilitating collective action between government, the private sector and civil society”.

Through multistakeholder platforms in 14 countries and states, some 600 organizations from different sectors are working together on projects and policy reforms with support from the 2030 WRG team. They range from operational projects, such as agricultural, industrial and municipal water use efficiency, to strategic initiatives, such as urban-industrial security and river basin governance.

The collaborative approach has helped to build trusted relationships between different sectors as well as across silos within government and industry. In Peru, for example, five ministers serve on the country’s WRG steering board. The highest levels of government have made commitments in Bangladesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. In South Africa and Mongolia, agricultural, mining and manufacturing companies are cooperating individually and through industry associations. Efforts are underway to increase engagement with civil society organizations, farmers and citizens.

The evolution of the 2030 WRG has not been without setbacks and challenges. Some initiatives have been disbanded and others adapted in response to changes in leadership, external evaluations and shared experimentation and learning. As 2030 WRG approaches its 10th anniversary, the model reflects five early lessons for leaders working on water security and other complex, systemic challenges:

  1. Government in the lead: The multistakeholder approach offers an alternative to what has primarily been a public sector role when ultimate responsibility still rests with government. A core priority of the approach is to help address the capacity gaps and overcome the political constraints that many governments face in managing water resources effectively and transparently.
  2. Local ownership and collaboration from business and civil society: Greater inclusion and decision-making by local business and civic leaders have been essential in identifying shared priorities, designing feasible solutions and creating the incentives and buy-in needed for implementation.
  3. A combined focus on data and analysis, stakeholder dynamics and the political economy of change: The 2030 WRG has learned the importance of balancing rigorous data and a technical understanding of water challenges with an appreciation of the institutional and political context. In addition to highlighting water security as a potential constraint on economic growth, it considers social and environmental concerns to generate a sense of shared urgency among diverse stakeholder interests.
  4. Strong ‘backbone support’: A challenge of many multistakeholder platforms is that they unite parties who are at best unfamiliar and at worst distrustful of each other. Backbone support from a team that has the ability to stimulate, coordinate and support collaboration among such parties is essential. It requires a combination of technical expertise alongside the ability to think long-term, live with uncertainty, and learn and adapt along the way.
  5. Vital roles for individual champions: Individual leaders have been essential to the evolution of the 2030 WRG. They have ranged from government ministers to corporate CEOs and practitioners from the participating organizations. Many have taken real, personal risk, investing their time, effort, influence, networks and, in some cases, reputation as vocal supporters for a collective effort they do not control and the outcomes of which are uncertain.

The 2030 WRG offers a promising approach to tackling the complex, systemic challenges of achieving water security and resolving shortages in the world’s most essential resource. If it can demonstrate the effectiveness of systems leadership and collaboration in the water sector, there will be enormous potential for this kind of approach to have a broader role in expediting progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

This draws on the findings of a report on the 2030 Water Resources Group published by the Corporate Responsibility Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School.

Read or download the executive summary here >>

Read or download the full report here >>

link to blog:

WEF: To achieve the SDGs, the world must work together

News Source: WEF
By: PAUL BULCKE, Member of the Board of Directors and Chairman-designate, Nestlé
Published: Tuesday, January 10, 2017

In contrast to the UN Millennium Development Goals agreed in 2000, the private sector was given the opportunity to provide input and help elaborate the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed in September 2015 by the UN General Assembly. It is only natural that the private sector must, in turn, assume a shared responsibility, in partnership with all other actors in society, to achieve these goals. We have expertise, knowledge and capacity at all levels to contribute to their achievement, especially at the country and community levels.

Moreover, a business can only be successful over time and create value for its shareholders if it also creates value for society as well. At Nestlé, we call this Creating Shared Value. From my perspective, a Creating Shared Value lens can help mobilize companies to identify and focus specific business efforts in support of the SDGs.

Let me go into a bit more detail on what this means for us. First, I would argue that each company must identify those areas where they can have the most impact. For us, driven by our company purpose to enhance quality of life and contribute to a healthier future, our positive impact on society focuses on enabling healthier and happier lives for individuals and families, on helping the development of thriving and resilient communities and finally, on stewarding the planet’s natural resources for future generations.

Second, I would argue that each one of us should leverage their specific comparative advantage to deliver impact. The private sector can bring global scope and scale, implementation capacity, innovation and research capabilities, and efficiency in execution. It is up to each partner to identify how best they can contribute.

But third, and very importantly, we each have to think beyond our own direct operations and fields of activity. We live in an interconnected world and our futures are inextricably linked. For us, it is only through cross-sector, cross-industry and cross-society partnerships that we can scale the societal commitments to which we hold ourselves accountable. So we need to explore and establish dynamic partnerships that explicitly expand our boundaries, particularly at the national and local levels where the necessary flexibility allows us to address locally relevant issues.

The 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG) and the New Vision for Agriculture (NVA) are two examples of action-oriented multistakeholder partnerships with which we have been involved since their beginnings in the late 2000s. What they both provide is a neutral convening platform where country-level public, private and civil society stakeholders can come together for open discussion, the identification of sustainable solutions and ultimately, transformative change. They are an essential breeding ground for trust, which surely must be the first ingredient for any successful attempt to bring about sustained transformation.

Six years after the 2030 WRG was first incubated at the World Economic Forum to close the gap between water demand and supply by 2030, this public-private partnership is working in 11 countries or states, with 44 proposals for programmes and policies to be implemented – of which 14 are already under implementation – engaging over 500 country partners.

The NVA has engaged over 600 organizations across all stakeholders to simultaneously deliver food security, environmental sustainability and economic opportunity. It has catalysed multi-stakeholder platforms in 21 countries across Africa, Asia and now Latin America and has, to date, reached over 10.5 million smallholder farmers.

We have learned many things from our experiences with these partnerships. First, it has become even clearer that we cannot achieve system-wide change alone. Actually, no one can do it alone. What we are able to do as a partnership builds on and strengthens what we can do by ourselves. Second, government commitment at all levels is an absolute prerequisite if there is to be real and sustainable impact on the ground. Third, trust is often enhanced through collaborative action at the national or local level where the locally relevant ambition or vision can be defined and a strong sense of pragmatism leveraged. The framework for country-led action developed by the NVA provides useful guidance on this approach.

There are a couple of key prerequisites too, notably having the right “values” frame and the right time frame. The latter – more specifically, a long-term framing – cannot be overemphasized. Transformative change takes time and a long-term framing induces the right values and approach across all stakeholders, often bringing them together. Looking forward, I am optimistic and excited. Since the two partnerships that I have outlined were born, we have come a long way. I look forward to continuing the journey we have started and delivering what we helped elaborate in 2030.

The 2030 Water Resources Group is a platform where public, private, multilateral, and nongovernmental-organization actors collaborate and work toward identifying solutions that increase water sustainability and efficiency. The secretariat of the 2030 Water Resources Group is currently being hosted by the IFC at its Headquarters in Washington D.C.

Innovative irrigation financing for smallholder farmers key to Kenya’s water-smart future

by PS Patrick Mwangi

Ministry Water and Irrigation


There is no disputing the importance of agriculture to Kenyan livelihoods and our economy. In 2014, Kenya imported food worth KES 114 billion. This figure is expected to increase to KES 200 billion by the end of 2016. Agriculture contributes approximately 28 percent of GDP, employs 75 percent of the national labor force and accounts for 65 percent of the country’s total exports. If we are serious about realizing our Vision 2030 goal of increasing agricultural production in the face of the country’s low water endowment, growing population and changing climate, we must focus our attention on two of the sector’s greatest contributors—water and smallholder farmers.

While we may agree upon the importance of water to our lives, we may not fully appreciate its fleeting nature if we do not manage our resources responsibly. If we maintain a business as usual approach to the way we manage our water resources, by the year 2030, Kenya will see a 30 percent gap between available water supply and demand. Expanding our agricultural production will therefore require we better manage our water resources to close this gap. Understanding how such resources are currently being used helps us decide the best way forward.

The agricultural sector is the largest user of water in Kenya. Of available water supply, about 60 percent of the country’s fresh water is used for agriculture. If we wish to expand the sector, it is imperative we work to improve agricultural water productivity by looking at water efficient technologies and practices. Given that less than 20 percent of Kenya’s arable land is suitable for rain fed agriculture, irrigation schemes, which currently cover only 2.4 percent of arable land, provide a more suitable solution.

We must therefore introduce farmers to new techniques, such as drip and sprinkler irrigation where appropriate. What many of us may not realize is that roughly 75 percent of Kenyan agricultural output is produced not by large scale agricultural companies, but by smallholder farmers. The role of these smallholders is therefore critical to attaining our goals.

While many larger companies have the resources to make their businesses more water efficient by investing in smarter irrigation systems, the majority of smallholders do not. Access to financing for the agriculture sector in Kenya, often perceived as risky, is extremely limited. A few banks and non-bank financial institutions, such as Barclays Bank, Equity Bank, Sidian Bank, formerly K-REP Bank, KCB, One Acre Fund and Umati Capital however, have taken initial steps to close the gap. These institutions are working to encourage investment in irrigation through traditional guarantees, supply chain financing, and group lending.

Compounding the lack of access to finance, is still reluctance and/or an inability on behalf of smallholder farmers to embrace more efficient irrigation technology. Further understanding of the benefits of efficient irrigation technologies and available options through capacity building is still needed to make this a reality. Successful interventions will therefore require an ecosystem approach that includes building awareness, developing financing mechanisms and connecting farmers to inputs and markets.

Invited by the government to help close the projected water gap, the Kenya 2030 Water Resources Group is a public-private-civil society partnership working with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation to build on these early financing initiatives. The Kenya 2030 WRG is working on developing national partnerships and structures with government, farmers, banking institutions, aggregators and equipment providers to encourage more lending to commercial smallholder farmers and prove market readiness.

Initial steps may include the use of bank guarantees, innovative blended finance mechanisms, or direct lending to non-bank financial institutions. Scaling-up investment will, however, require partnerships among stakeholders in the value chain.

Leveraged properly, innovative financing for smallholder farmers will emerge as a keystone to Kenya’s water-smart future.

Water for food, for energy, or for elephants?

Dave Butler Tanzania

Photocredit: Dave Butler, Tanzania

What we can learn from the Ruaha experience about our options for tackling water scarcity

It is a testament to the wealth of environment riches in Africa that a national park of 20,000 square kilometers – half the size of the Netherlands, more than twice the size of Yellowstone – can remain relatively unknown. This is the case with the Ruaha National Park in Southern Tanzania.  In fact, even fewer of us may have heard of the Ruaha were it not for the fact that the river that feeds the park, the Greater Ruaha, has been drying up. 

Blogpost written by Will Davies, 2030 WRG Regional Lead Africa, and Onesmo Sigalla, 2030 WRG Tanzania Country Representative.

Historically, this 300 mile river would consistently flow year round, but in 1993 the river dried up for the first time for a period of three weeks. By 1999 this had reached three months. In 2008 the documentary “Surviving the Drought”, which highlighted the plight of the park’s wildlife, notably its estimated 10,000 elephants, brought the park to the attention of a wider public. But the decline in water levels has continued unabated, with record low flows reported in 2012/13, and in some cases dry spells being reported even during the wet season.

The factors underlying this trend are both well known, and familiar. Rapid population growth in the catchment, and the country as a whole, has led to dramatic increases in demand for agricultural land, and consequent impacts on water, in particular via increased irrigation. For those interested in more detail, read the excellent “Water resources system analysis for the Usangu Plains and its subbasins” (2015) by Rikard Liden in the Global Water Practice. A particular challenge in the Ruaha is suitability of the flood plains for rice, a high-demand crop in Tanzania usually grown via water-intensive flood irrigation methods, with extremely inefficient traditional water abstraction and conveyance systems (especially for smallholders).  Much has been written on this topic. In the international press, the voice of the environment is perhaps heard the loudest, with emphasis placed on the need to secure the priceless ecological assets of the catchment.  In conversations in Tanzania, the weight of opinion differs, with a stronger emphasis on the importance of food security and livelihoods.

This challenge is illustrative of the raison d’être of the 2030 Water Resources Group. We bring together key stakeholders impacted by water stress, from across the public sector, private sector and civil society, to overcome these kinds of “tragedy of the commons” scenarios that so often occur in the water resource sector. In 2013, we were invited by the Government of Tanzania to set up a Tanzania 2030 Water Resources Group partnership, to drive collective solutions to address the growing gap between water demand and supply in the country.

Great Ruaha Catchment

The solutions being discussed in the context of the Great Ruaha Restoration Campaign, a new catchment level multi-stakeholder initiative convened by the Tanzania 2030 WRG partnership, fall into three broad categories:

Increasing water productivity in agriculture

More people equals more demand for food.  But the water we need to grow that food is finite. So we need to grow more with less, or generate “more crop per drop”.  The word productivity, rather than efficiency, is used deliberately, as hydrologists will rightly debate what “water consumption” means and whether, for example, flood irrigation is inefficient if the water that is not absorbed by the crops returns to the environment.  What is clear is that in many cases, as in the Ruaha, the use of more productive irrigation methods, such as drip and sprinkler systems, as well as other water-maximizing farming practices can increase agricultural productivity while reducing the amount of water that needs to be abstracted, thereby allowing the farmer to grow more with less.

This inevitably leads to the question of how to finance “modern” irrigation technologies which, while more productive, are also more capital intensive; a big challenge for cash-strapped smallholder farmers.  This is a challenge we are tackling through the 2030 WRG, not just in Tanzania but also in Karnataka (India) and Kenya.  This topic is worthy of a future article in itself, so watch this space.

Dealing with trade offs

Secondly, while water productivity is often the easiest starting point, water scarcity may ultimately require harder decisions to be made around water allocations.  For example, it is not economically rational to be operating hydropower plants on the Ruaha river well below their operating capacity on account of lower value abstraction of water upstream for irrigation.  Likewise, increasing irrigation productivity may not solve the environmental challenge if the “savings” are simply used to expand further land under irrigation downstream.

The challenge here, of course, is that water allocations are motivated by cultural and political, as well as economic, considerations.  Getting the balance right ultimately requires some level of adjudication or “refereeing” between sectors – i.e. ensuring that the interests of the energy, agriculture and tourism sectors collectively represent the optimal outcome for the country.  Making this work in practice is a major challenge for any country, and represents an important value add that 2030 WRG can play, given its role in convening stakeholders from across sectors, both public and private.  Indeed, the planned Great Ruaha Restoration Campaign is being set up with this cross-sector coordination objective in mind.

It should also be noted that effective regulation is a pre-condition for effective allocation decisions.  If no one is monitoring or enforcing water abstractions in the first place, then discussions around allocations across sectors and water using groups can only go so far.  Hence, as in the case of the Ruaha, strengthening monitoring and regulation of permits is vital, as is getting the incentives for monitoring and enforcement right, in a context of politically-viable pricing (again a topic worthy of longer discussion).

Tanzania dry riverInfrastructure solutions

Another category of solutions to the challenges in the Ruaha lie in infrastructure.  The recent “Integrated Water Resources Management and Development Plan” for the Rujiji Basin (within which the Ruaha lies) strongly recommends increasing agricultural water productivity, but also the construction of larger infrastructure to allow for large scale storage of water, and hence regulation of dry season flows.  Additional infrastructure is certainly an important part of the puzzle, especially in countries, like Tanzania, with very low aggregate water storage capacity.  However, raising any level of commercial finance for such projects is inevitably challenging, given the public nature of most benefits, and hence such projects generally have to wait for large scale concessional funding to come available.  In the meantime, hydro-economic research by 2030 WRG shows that, in many cases, demand side solutions offer better cost-benefit returns than capital intensive supply side interventions.

Seeking Sustainable Water Services in Peru

Fernando MomiyThis blog post has been written by Fernando Momiy Hada/Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Inspection Office for Sanitation Services (Superintendencia Nacional de Servicios de Saneamiento SUNASS).

Steady urban population growth, the effects of climate change, the risks posed by natural disasters, and the impact of water source and reservoir contamination are calling for greater effort in the area of regulatory management and the involvement of water and sewage service operators in this process.  However, many more institutions are also involved, including the people themselves, whose commitment and active participation will be necessary for the sustainable provision of this vital service.

SUNASS, as the sanitation regulatory entity in Peru, is cognizant of the fact that if we do not tackle these challenges comprehensively, policy or regulatory improvement or economic and financial models will not be able to guarantee the sustainable provision of water and sewage services in the country. Our effort to implement Compensation Mechanisms for Ecosystem Services (Mecanismos de Retribución de los Servicios Ecosistémicos (MRSE)* in order to ensure that sanitation service providers can finance projects that help preserve the consistency, quality, and quantity of the water sources reveals the need for comprehensive management of water resources.

We therefore commend the Ministry of Housing, Construction, and Sanitation—the sector’s governing body—for approving the regulatory framework for the use of groundwater by turning over its infrastructure (wells and underground tunnels) to the sanitation service providers for maintenance and conservation and tasking SUNASS with responsibility for approving rate-setting methodology.  This progress is being made in the context of the challenges arising from the ground water depletion being observed in Lima and Callao, which runs the risk of leaving the population without water reserves, should changes in the water cycle occur in the watersheds that supply water to the cities.

SUNASS approved the implementation of the system revolving around rate subsidies for potable water, which will pave the way for optimization of the incentives for the development of the service by residents.

Taking stock of water resources in the design of the country’s development strategy is the first step to guarantee future growth.  Water is critical to all economic activities.  For this reason, if we do not approach our development taking water into account—how we will use it and distribute it and how much we will develop it—we will not be able to lay the groundwork for sustainable development in the future.

In our quest for sustainable water resources, we have received support from such key institutions as the 2030 Water Resources Group (WRG), which included us in working groups and opened the doors of its Board of Directors so as to seek consensus among national authorities, NGOs, private enterprises, and international assistance entities, all assembled as one group with the aim of contributing to crafting a joint vision and model for water use, which Peru needs.

*Compensation mechanisms for ecosystem services are financial mechanisms intended to conserve, recover, or use, in a sustainable manner, water source ecosystems through the provision of incentives to residents to carry out these activities.