The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) participated in the 2017 Southern African Development Community’s (SADC’s) Multi-Stakeholder Water Dialogue which took place in Johannesburg, South Africa from 21 -22 November 2017.
The 8th Multi-Stakeholder Water Dialogue, which was hosted by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) on behalf SADC and the Global Water Partnership – Southern Africa was held under the theme: “Water Development in SADC-Fostering Regional Value Chains and Job Creation through the Water-Energy-Food Nexus Approaches”.
The dialogue provided a platform for water, energy, food and economic and gender practitioners and policymakers to develop strategies to ensure that nexus approaches contribute to fostering regional value chains and job creation. Delegates heard how the interdependence between Water, Energy and Food security (WEF) offers opportunities for stronger collaboration among the three sectors, thus increasing the strength of tackling the region’s developmental Agenda leading to the achievement of the SADC Goals of Peace and Stability, Regional Integration, Industrialisation and Poverty Eradication.
The Dialogue was officially opened by DWS’s International Water Support Deputy Director-General, Ms Lindiwe Lusenga, who said the collaboration between three sectors offered the opportunity to tackle the region’s developmental Agenda. In her remarks, Ms Lusenga said “To supply water to various needs, energy is key. To attain food security, water is required through irrigation, stock watering and agro-processing,”. She urged delegates that it was important that the Dialogue benefited women, the youth and ordinary people by encouraging the industrial partners to be part of the water sector value chain.
Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWPSA) has been mandated to implement the Nexus programme in the Southern Africa region on behalf of the SADC Secretariat. During the first phase, running from 2017 to 2019, GWPSA is preparing a framework which will help SADC create an enabling environment to promote Nexus investments in the region.
FANRPAN Representative, Ms Sithembile Mwamakamba, participated in the closing high level panel which focused on Strategies and Recommendations to provide practical next steps in implementation of the nexus approach to foster sustainable value chains and job creation in the SADC region. Ms Mwamakamba’s interventions focused on the potential that irrigation plays within the region and highlighted the need to Identify ways to make irrigation profitable. She stressed that unless governments are willing (and able) to continue subsidising repairs and rehabilitation, irrigation must do more than meet farmers’ subsistence needs. Irrigation is an expensive business, and will be sustainable only if it is financially lucrative.
She further called for investments in multi-layered capacity strengthening, noting that although irrigation can be lucrative, many farmers report difficulties accessing inputs and markets, and for various reasons schemes repeatedly fall into disrepair. One underlying factor is an overemphasis on infrastructure, with limited attention to local capacities and institutions. Social learning approaches can be a useful strategy to build the capacity of farmers and local government staff alike, but require long-term investment. Such an approach entails cycles of knowledge-sharing and joint action to co‐create information, institutions and practices.
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