Blue Deal session about Social inclusion in IWRM

On September 12, the Blue Deal presented a session during Partners for Water's Day ‘Social Inclusion in Water Climate Adaptation – making a Transformation’ in Utrecht.

“We need to bend the beam of observation upon ourselves”, says Martin Kalungu-Banda of the Ubuntu.Lab institute, one of the speakers during the plenary programme. Are we always doing as well as we think we do or should we sometimes look at ourselves more critically? The room is full of people from the water sector, from NGOs and organizations such as the Blue Deal. All with the beautiful intention of supporting others worldwide. But this requires that we work on the right things and especially with the people involved. “We’re trying to help, but we forget to listen,” notes one of the participants of the day.

Within the Blue Deal we try to do this through stakeholder participation. During the session ‘Working bottom up in Integrated Water Resources Management: how to implement an Area Oriented Approach to maximize sustainability and inclusiveness’, about 20 people from different organizations were present and 3 examples from the Blue Deal were discussed.

Communities map top 10 issues

Priscilla Daddah, Young Expert for the Blue Deal partnership in Ghana, explains during the session how the partnership involved stakeholders by working with 3 communities to map the top 10 issues for the Lower Volta Songor region. They also jointly drew up a Community-based Resource Management Plan (CREMA).

Using traditional tribal hierarchy

Bertho Bulthuis, water expert from the Blue Deal partnership in Burkina Faso, explains how they use the traditional tribal hierarchy within his partnership. “This is an already existing structure, able to connect people in the communities.” Of course, there are also disadvantages to this, Bulthuis admits. Because these structures do not represent everyone either. Another challenge he mentions is that many people in the area cannot always focus on anything else besides their daily needs. “It’s not always easy to look towards the future to things like climate mitigation and adaptation, when you are struggling for daily needs, like food for the day.”

Future base camp

Tanah Meijers, from the Blue Deal partnership in Kenya, talks about the ‘Bring Njururi back to the river’ project. This project is about restoring the water beetle (Njururi) to the Thika river in Upper Tana, Kenya. The water beetle symbolizes good water quality and a healthy ecosystem.

Stakeholder participation also plays a major role in this project. For this purpose, the team organized a so-called future base camp. About 120 people from various social groups and organizations in the area came together for a few days of camping. Together they thought about how they would like to shape the future in their region and how they could achieve this. Meijers: “We were looking for common ground, because everybody is part of the solution. Together, we drew a map. What is happening today? What are the challenges we face? And what do we need to do to get the water beetle back?”

Discussion

After the presentations of the case studies, participants of the Blue Deal session discussed in 3 groups about how to scale an inclusive sustainable bottom-up approach on IWRM: how to implement a jointly drafted sub-catchment plan and maximise sustainability and inclusiveness? Below some of the discussion outcomes:

  • Formalisation of the effort of local organisations is necessary (mandate/ status);
  • Make use of current systems of formalised governments;
  • As soon as you scale up, the balance between bottom-up and top-down can get lost, it is a battle to fight for the rights in a bottom-up approach. Be aware of these issues;
  • There will be a political battle/competition about livelihood needs and less on water needs when you scale up. Be aware of these aspects;
  • Choose your local champions to scale your approach;
  • Keep reflecting: is everyone really included?
  • Clear benefits and responsibilities are necessary to get everyone on board;
  • Realisation of the needs: analyse the needs in an area thoroughly;
  • These processes take time. Spend time on raising awareness in your project

Get in touch

Want to know more about the outcomes of these 3 cases? Reach out to info@bluedeal.nl to get in touch with one of the speakers.

Blue Deal Ghana visits Sand Motor in Togo and Benin 

From 9 until 12 May a group of representatives of the Ghanaian government and the Dutch Blue Deal Programme paid a visit to the Sand Motor project in Togo and Benin. The visit is part of the cooperation between Ghanaian organisations and the Blue Deal Programme.

Delta Programme

Since the Blue Deal Programme focusses on the exchange of knowledge, good governance and capacity building, this visit was of great value. One part of the Blue Deal activities in Ghana is setting up a Delta Programme with the cooperating organisations for the coast of Ghana to deal with issues such as sea level rise, erosion and salt intrusion. A long-term plan, a Delta Fund, Delta laws and an overarching governance structure can be part of this Delta Programme.

The Dutch Blue Deal members were accompanied by the Ghanaian Water Resources Commission (WRC), a coordinating NGO for Delta Issues in Ghana, a representative of the district assemblies in the Lower Volta Delta, the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) and the Hydrological Service Authority (Hydro). Together they are taking the first steps into the development of the Delta Programme.

Sand Motor in Togo and Benin

Since 2022 the Dutch company Boskalis started the Sand Motor project along the coast of Togo and Benin as part of the West African Coastal Areas Management (WACA) programme. The main goal is to protect 40 kilometres of the coastline from the east of Togo to the west of Benin from erosion. The project includes the construction of new groynes and the rehabilitation of existing groynes. In addition, beaches are raised with more than 1 million cubic meters of sand. Finally, a Sand Motor of 6.4 million cubic meters is constructed on the Benin side of the border.

This Sand Motor is an innovative way of protecting the coastline by ejecting sand on the beaches through a submerged pipe. A large amount of sand is placed in strategic places, which over time spreads along the coastline due to the natural movement of wind, waves and currents. This principle of building with nature strengthens and maintains the coastline in a robust and natural way.

Nature Based Solutions and local involvement

The visit to Benin and Togo was a great opportunity to learn more about nature-based solutions like the Sand Motor and to work together with different organisations to set meaningful next steps in the protection of the coast of Ghana. Boskalis guided us along the coast to visit the various construction sites. They stressed the importance of the cooperation with the local people and local governments. Although on some locations the people started to oppose, it turned out very soon that they became strong supporters of this approach. Because the flood safety for the local communities is improved, the entrance to the sea is always guaranteed and ownership is established, and no fishing grounds have been destroyed.

The exchange of experiences with Togo and Benin about their approach was very fruitful for the Ghanaian organisations and the Delta Programme team learned from the strategies of Togo and Benin to protect the coasts. To broaden the knowledge, some participants of the meeting will also be visiting the Sand Motor along the coast in the Netherlands in June during the Blue Deal Congress.

Blue Deal Ghana: successfully connecting water to other relevant themes

In March, the Blue Deal Ghana team went on a work visit for 2 weeks to meet with many new stakeholders outside the water sector. By meeting stakeholders outside the water sector, the Blue Deal Ghana is trying to get water challenges higher on the political agenda.

The goal of these meetings is to work together with other partners, besides the Water Resources Commission (WRC), and to connect the water themes to other relevant themes. In this way, the water challenges will come higher on the political agenda. The project team met with partners such as the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation (MESTI), the Hydrological Authority (HYDRO), the Ministry of Works and Housing (MWH) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Regional: bottom-up

During the visit in March, the project team started with the implementation of the Area Oriented Approach in the Songor Lagoon in the south of Ghana. An Integrated Water Resources Management plan for the Lower Volta Basin is almost completed by the WRC and the area of the Songor Lagoon is selected as a pilot area to start the implementation of the overall plan. A big challenge in this area is mangrove depletion.

However, the area faces many more water related challenges. For this reason the Ghanaian and Dutch team shared knowledge on conducting an Area Oriented Approach and guided in the process of starting it. During a workshop with around 45 stakeholders from the area (such as representatives of the communities, the Forestry Commission and NGO’s) different cohesive issues were brought up and concrete actions to solve these issues were identified. In this way the pilot project will have a more multidisciplinary and holistic approach. The water challenges in the Songor area are now brought bottom-up to the political agenda of the WRC.

Next to this, the Blue Deal met with the governor of the Upper East Region to talk about the water related challenges in the area. The main outcome is that water themes will be scheduled during regional meetings with for example District Assemblies, chiefs and subbasin committees.

National

To get the water challenges higher on the political national agenda the project team met with many new stakeholders during the work visit. The goal is to work together with other national partners, and with the WRC, to connect the water themes to other relevant themes. The Delta programme that we have in the Netherlands is of great interest for Ghana, since the country faces many challenges in the Lower Volta Delta and along the whole coast. Therefore, the Blue Deal team endorses to set up a Delta programme. For this reason the team met with MESTI, WRC, HYDRO, MWH and EPA to assess the challenges in the Delta and strengthen the cooperation in the future.

Next to this, the Blue Deal team had several meetings with the Netherlands Commission of Environmental Assessment (NCEA). They came with the Blue Deal team to Ghana to address their work on a national level and start the cooperation in current and new programmes, policies and plans (such as land use plans or water catchment plans). Their aim is to ensure that the environmental and social consequences of proposed activities are incorporated into decision making, through an inclusive process. Together with the Blue Deal team the NCEA met with the EPA.

The connection of the EPA and the Blue Deal team secures the holistic approach of water resources management within the work of the EPA. In the near future the NCEA will provide independent advice through Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) for the catchment plans of the WRC and will provide guidelines and training to work on capacity development of SEA with the WRC, EPA and other involved stakeholders.

Another example of making sure water challenges are of more importance on a national level, the Dutch team assesses climate issues like reforestation. In the Bongo District a successful reforestation project is already set-up. In this way the Blue Deal becomes more relevant to the Dutch Embassy, which for their part have influence on a national level.

Transboundary cooperation

Ghana faces many water related challenges that they can not solve all by themselves. Therefore, the cooperation of Ghanaian and Dutch water partners also supports to look on a transboundary governance level for cooperation and effective solutions. Such as the sand motor that is now set-up in Benin to protect the coast from further erosion. In the next few months a broad delegation of the Ghanian partners will visit this project to explore the options for their own coastal protection. Small scale cooperation between the partners along sub catchments that are part of as well Burkina Faso as Ghana should also gain more attention in the Area Oriented Approach of the Blue Deal programme in the Upper East Region.

More than 200,000 trees planted in Ghana

At the end of October and beginning of November, the Blue Deal Ghana project team travelled to Ghana again for a work visit. The programme included work sessions and field visits to see the progress of the projects in the different regions and to discuss the planning for the next months. Some highlights of the work visit.

In Ghana, the Blue Deal partnership works in the north in the White Volta and in the south in the Lower Volta Delta on various projects in areas such as governance, planning and water quality.

In the middle of this year, more than 200,000 trees have been planted along the riverbanks to protect them against erosion and to restore the groundwater level. Including last year, the count now stands at more than a quarter of a million trees. The financier of this project, Trees for All, wanted to see and monitor the result with their own eyes. That is why they joined this working visit. Together with the Blue Deal, they visited 11 communities and 2 tree nurseries.

Keeping the trees alive is a challenge in this environment, where drought, insects and damage by livestock threaten the young seedlings. Where necessary, a protection of mud is built around each tree (“mud wall”). However, this requires a lot of time from the communities and Erik de Bruijne devised a “mould” and had it made by a local blacksmith to see if making a mud wall could be done faster and more effectively. It has been tested in many places in the field and has proven to be a success.

Meetings White Volta Basin Board and Gambaga Sub-basin Committee

The White Volta Basin Board met again for the first time in 3 years; that was not possible before because of the corona crisis. This Board is responsible for the implementation of the integral Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) plan White Volta and the determination of the sub-basins sub-plans. The White Volta Basin is divided into 9 sub-basins, each with a Sub-basin Committee. However, the Committees are not yet active, except for the Kpasenkpe Sub-basin Committee. This has been activated with the help of Blue Deal in Phase 1 of the Blue Deal and a sub-basin IWRM plan has been drawn up. The meeting of the White Volta Basin Board was a success, with the approval of the IWRM plan of the Sub-basin Committee Kpasenkpe as an important milestone.

In Phase 2, the Blue Deal will support the activation of other sub-basins, starting with the Gambaga Sub-basin. As a first step, a kick-off meeting was organized with the members of the Gambaga Subbasin Committee. In particular, the learning experiences of the Kpasenkpe Subbasin Committee were central.

Much more

In addition, during the work visit, work was done on an IWRM plan for the Lower Volta Delta in the south of Ghana. During the work visit, attention was also paid to the Songor region, where the Ghanaian partners and Deltares have been working on a number of products in recent months, such as: a socio-economic analysis of the Songor region, a system analysis for mangrove restoration, water quality measurements, a drainage map and a map showing the condition of felled and existing mangroves.

Ghanaian Delta programme explored

At the end of November 2021, the Dutch water experts from Dutch Water Authorities paid a visit to their Blue Deal partner in Ghana. During the multi-day working visit, the Dutch Delta Programme was on the agenda as a source of inspiration for Ghana.

The Ghanaian partners are looking for more structure, more integrality, better frameworks and better long-term solutions. The Delta Programme offers a long-term vision and scenario planning for climate change and socio-economic growth. The Blue Deal partners are exploring what a similar approach could mean for Ghana and how it could be linked to the Inegrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) plan.

The partners also paid a working visit to the north of Ghana to improve the water management of the Vea Dam and the Tono Dam. Because sand washes back into the waterways and reservoirs, the water and soil quality worsens. Because the water is not clean, residents are forced to get their water elsewhere. The partners are therefore committed to improving the water quality and the quality of life for residents, among other things.

First physical work visit to Ghana since coronavirus

The first physical working visit to Ghana (since the coronavirus lockdown) took place! At the end of July, the Ghanaian and Dutch partners saw each other again after 1.5 years of purely digital contact.

They immediately started with field visits in the various regions and live stakeholder meetings to see the progress of the projects with their own eyes. For example, the integrated water management plan is increasingly taking shape. Watch the video here.

Lecture: solutions for complex water problems

The KIWI learning programme recently organised a lecture by professor Guy Alaerts about the unruly nature of international water management and solutions for complex water problems.

Water managers worldwide are looking for integrated solutions for complex water problems. Major investments are often required to become climate proof, but finding financing is difficult. Water managers and financial institutions do not know where to find each other and converting globally available financing into concrete projects on a large scale is difficult. Watch the lecture below. The lecture is in Dutch, but can be viewed with subtitles.

Study: water management knowledge exchange

TU Delft and Erasmus University, in collaboration with Dutch Water Authorities, have launched a study into water management knowledge exchange. The universities are investigating which lessons the Dutch regional water authorities take abroad.

Meeting room with people seated at tables for a traning session. One man is stood, giving a presentation.
Dutch Water Authorities and local partners attending a training session.

As part of the study into water management knowledge exchange university researchers are looking at the lessons learned at an individual level, group level and organisational level. The aim is to find out exactly what effect these lessons have on organisations.

Questionnaire

A questionnaire is sent out via the Dutch Water Authorities foreign coordinators. It is hoped that insight can be gained into the possibilities and limiting factors of international knowledge sharing.

More on Dutch Water Authorities and knowledge exchange

Blue Deal Annual plan 2021

The 2021 annual plan of the Blue Deal programme has been approved by the steering committee. The partnerships will continue their work in 2021 to improve water management in 14 countries.

Two men inspecting a waste water treatment plant.

The focus of the Blue Deal Annual plan 2021 is on three crucial elements: sufficient knowledge and skills, a well-functioning organisation and collaboration with key stakeholders.

Online learning

As COVID-19 continues into 2021, the Blue Deal partnerships focus on online learning and training in the first six months. This is not easy in all countries, for example due to slow internet connections or recently initiated partnerships. Therefore, the partnerships also focus on additional local representation. Dutch Water Authorities hopes to physically meet its partners again in the second half of 2021.

More on the Blue Deal