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IGAD Advances Water Security Amidst Climate Change Challenges

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia –The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is intensifying efforts to combat water scarcity and climate change impacts across its member states. Spearheaded by the Water Unit under the Agriculture and Environment Division, IGAD’s initiative focuses on sustainable groundwater management and fostering regional cooperation to build resilience and trust within communities.

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Since its inception in 2007, the Water Unit has implemented a range of strategic projects, including the mapping of transboundary water resources, river basin dialogues, and governance frameworks. A landmark achievement was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Kenya and Uganda for joint river basin management and the launch of targeted groundwater initiatives.

The latest initiative, the Groundwater for Resilience (HoA GW4R) Program, underscores IGAD’s commitment to water security. Currently active in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, the program aims to enhance sustainable groundwater use and lay the groundwork for climate resilience. Future phases of the program plan to include additional IGAD member states.

Central to IGAD’s strategy is the IGAD-Platform for Groundwater Collaboration (I-PGWC), which promotes regional cooperation in addressing water challenges. This platform enables member states to share knowledge, harmonize policies, and strengthen collaborative efforts in groundwater management, ensuring a unified and comprehensive strategy across the region.

IGAD’s proactive approach includes developing key agreements and systems for effective water management. The preparation of an MOU for the joint management of the Merti Aquifer between Kenya and Somalia exemplifies the region’s dedication to cooperative water resource governance. Additionally, the establishment of a regional Groundwater Information System and data-sharing protocols are crucial steps toward integrated water management across the IGAD region.

To deepen the understanding and management of vital water resources, IGAD has initiated feasibility studies for three transboundary aquifers: Dawa, Shabelle, and the Northern basement aquifer. These studies aim to assess aquifer systems, identify sustainable management practices, and enhance cooperation among the sharing countries. For instance, the Dawa Aquifer study includes a comprehensive assessment of groundwater development and management, exploring potential projects to improve drought resilience and socio-economic development across Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia.

Beyond immediate groundwater management, IGAD’s strategy includes developing alternative water sources and climate-resilient infrastructure. This holistic approach ensures a sustainable water supply and integrates climate adaptation measures across the region.

“Water is the lifeblood of our communities and economies. Our efforts in transboundary water management depict IGAD’s dedication to regional integration, ensuring that every drop counts towards the collective growth and well-being of our member states,” stated the Director of Agriculture and Environment.

IGAD’s comprehensive approach to water security reflects a nuanced understanding of the region’s needs, fostering sustainable development and resilience in the face of climate change.

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