By Wallace Mawire Harare : Zimbabwe will on 27 to 29 October 2010 host the 11the regional water symposium in Victoria Falls to promote interaction among policymakers,academics,practitioners from water and related sectors including key cooperating partners.
The symposia have been held annually by Waternet,Water Research Fund for Southern Africa (WARSA) and Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWP-SA) in the Eastern and Southern Africa region for the past ten years. The 11the symposium is being held in association with the International Commission on Water Resources Systems to identify regional issues,gaps and priorities that require further research and support. Great emphasis will be placed on integration of knowledge,particularly involving scholars from the natural,medical and social sciences.
The Institute of Water and Sanitation Development (IWSD) is the lead host of the planned symposium and is working with a local organising committee of stakeholders drawn from the water sector in preparation for the regional event.
The symposium is being held under the theme:Integrated water resource management (IWRM) for national and regional integration:where science,policy and practice meet. According to a statement released by the secretariat to the local organising committe of the 11th symposium at IWSD, progress in developing and implementing water resources management and water efficiency plans have so far been varied across countries in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Countries like South Africa,Kenya,Uganda,Zimbabwe,Mozambique,Malawi,Zambia and Swaziland to name a few have all had some water reforms aimed at addressing water resource management.
The lessons are valuable to share according to the symposium organisers.The secretariat says that the way that regional governments helped to resolve the 2008-2009 cholera outbreaks in Zimbabwe shows the power that regional integration can provide. Presentations at the symposium will focus on addressing sustainable water supply and sanitation and linkages to public health livelihoods and climate change.Subthemes of the symposium will include:hydrology,water and environment,water and land,water and society,water supply and sanitation including water resources management. The symposium is being held at a time when the overall leadership and coordination of the WASH sector in Zimbabwe is currently weak and the institutional arrangements are fragmented,unclear and unnecessarily complex, according to a report released by the Ministry of Water Resources Development and Management as major outcomes of the Ministers of Water and Sanitation retreat held at Nyanga in February this year.
The report says that roles and responsibilities and coordination mechanisms for the urban water and sanitation sub-sector are not
clear.Currently there are six government agencies playing key roles in the WASH sector namely Ministry of Water Resource Management and Development,Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA),Ministry of Transport,Communications and Infrastructural Development,District Development Fund,Ministry of Local Government,Rural and Urban Development and the Minstry of Health and Child Welfare. “There is no clearly designated lead ministry for the sector with various ministries claiming to lead the sector.The national coordination mechanism for the rural sub-sector has become weak and currently operates at too low a level in the civil service.Roles and responsibilties,leadership and coordination mechanisms are not clear.The Ministers and Permanent Secretaries of the responsible ministries agreed to jointly address these issues,” the Nyanga report says.