Water management lies behind most of the great development challenges of the 21st Century. It's obvious but we too often forget that we won't be able to achieve food security, energy security, healthy cities and productive ecosystems without greatly improving how we manage water. In the global north, the challenges of basic access to water services are less pressing than they are in the south but -- as hurricane Sandy showed New York -- the challenges of making the right quantity and quality of water available where it is most needed still loom large.
Hammerby Sjöstad, in central Stockholm, is integrated urban water management in action. The district, which was intended to be an Olympic Village, once was an old industrial area, but it has been transformed into a sustainable city.
Starting about a decade ago, the planners took on the ambitious goal of reducing the environmental footprint of the neighborhood by 50% compared to other recent developments in Stockholm. They brought in new ideas and put them into practice at surprisingly low costs.
While I was in Stockholm for World Water Week this past week, I spoke to Erik Freudenthal from GlashusEtt in Hammerby Sjöstad about the project.
Africa’s development agenda is inherently regional due to the large number of landlocked countries (15) and trans-boundary rivers (63 basins), as well as an uneven distribution of energy resources and load centers. Though Africa is endowed with a generous supply of water resources, most of its rivers, lakes and aquifers cross country borders - the Nile crosses 10, the Niger 9, the Senegal 4, and the Zambezi 8. This therefore calls for cooperative water resource management and coordinated investments to increase basin yields of food, power, and other economic opportunities, while strengthening environmental sustainability and mitigating the effects of droughts and floods.
As a practice there has been a lot of attention recently on innovation in the water sector. And while innovation might mean using new technology to help solve old problems, it also means looking at a problem from a different angle to find possible solutions. In this post from Sana Agha Al Nimer, Senior Water Specialist at the World Bank, she shares her firsthand account of how speaking to children about water issues is a powerful tool for the sector.