Improving water security means empowering everyone — water managers and users, businesses, and citizens — to regularly assess and address water risks. By collaborating with communities, we can negotiate project activities which will best reduce negative effects of a particular area’s primary water risks. The Sustainable Water Partnership’s Water Security Improvement (WSI) process relies heavily on changing behaviors away from polluting, wasteful practices and conventional engineering approaches that often prevail in many countries. It builds on eight essential practices:
- We focus on priority water risks in a defined geographic and technical space.
- We engage and mobilize water users as the actors that affect water resources.
- We employ a “systems thinking” approach to address causes, not just symptoms.
- We acknowledge uncertainties about information, science, climate change and variability, and human behaviors to ensure comprehensive solutions.
- We negotiate integrated actions that distribute tangible benefits to water users, notably women and marginalized groups.
- We design science- and fact-based solutions through a combination of infrastructure development, watershed management, behavior change and institutional improvements.
- We build adaptive management capacities of institutions and communities to improve resilience to stresses and shocks.
- We ensure sustainability through economic efficiency, environmental soundness and social equity.
The WSI Process (pictured above) has an initial check-up and five steps:
- Confirm & Initiate: Verify the demand and need for a WSI process, ensure governmental and financial support, and formally begin
- Define Scope & Scale: Focus the process by identifying who to engage and defining the scope (geographic area and priority water risks)
- Assess Water Security: Gauge the situation by conducting technical, institutional and risk studies to provide an understanding of current and future water security
- Plan: Define, analyze, compare and select relevant water security activities while identifying and securing financing
- Implement: Execute water security activities that target priority water risks and provide tangible benefits to water users
- Monitor, Evaluate, and Adapt: Track the progress and performance of implementation, adjusting activities as needed
As populations continue to grow, and as climate change and variability affect water availability and the frequency of extreme events, achieving and maintaining water security is a fundamental development challenge. Total protection from water risks or definitive resolution of water problems is rarely, if ever, possible. But by applying and repeating this process, SWP can mitigate the risks inherent in water issues, informing and engaging water users in the process.