Experts from the University of Aberdeen’s Centre for Constitutional and Public International Law helped lead discussions on the future of transboundary water governance in Africa this week as part of a global forum focused on advancing water resources knowledge, policy and management.
Nearly half the population of Africa have no access to potable water; millions live without access to affordable, renewable and reliable energy resources; and food shortages and hunger continue to be rampant within some parts of the continent.
However, a 2019 report from the World Bank showed that less than 5% of the continent’s cultivated land is irrigated and only 10% of hydropower potential has been utilised. While resources within the continent are rich, their management and utilisation are failing to provide vital lifeline services to the population.
Shared watercourses underpin all access to water, food and energy. Existing difficulties relating to the governance of such shared resources are now being exacerbated by rapid population growth and climate change.
The International Water Resources Association (IWRA) World Water Congress provides a forum for organisations around the globe to share experiences, promote discussion and present new knowledge, research results and developments in the field of water sciences.
The University was one of three host institutions leading two special virtual sessions at the event which ran from 29 November to 3 December in Daegu, Korea.
The sessions demonstrated a number of approaches to water governance from a multi-disciplinary perspective, including the merits of an integrated governance approach to shared water resources through the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus; the opportunities and challenges associated with basin-wide cooperation and coordination among riparian states through the integration of international watercourses law and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and the potential for cooperation that integrates focus on transboundary basins and aquifers.
Both sessions included diverse presentations and discussions which sought to explore answers to the question: what next for transboundary water governance in Africa?
The project formed part of the University’s Horizon 2020 work, an EU initiative coupling research and innovation to drive economic growth and create jobs.