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From scarcity-born conflict to peace and stability
The Fragility Forum is a biennial event that brings together policymakers and practitioners from humanitarian, development, peace and security communities; public and private sector; academia; and civil society. The objective is to exchange innovative ideas and knowledge to improve development approaches in fragile, conflict and violence-affected settings to foster peace and stability.
The WPS Partnership participation at the Fragility Forum is aligned with the organisation’s objectives and the Water-Climate-Conflict Nexus. The partnership of five organisations is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and they combine data technology and participatory analysis with capacity building and dialogue in order to enhance local stakeholders to address issues of water security and water and conflict towards peace.
GIZ and the WPS partnership collaborate in the Frexus project in Mali, Chad and Niger. The aim of this project is to improve security and climate resilience in a fragile context through the Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus, and it is co-financed by the European Union and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by GIZ.
Water as conflict- and peace-driver
The panel discussion that took place on 7th March 2022 was built on the phenomenon that many regions worldwide face security issues due to resource scarcity. The session moderated by Rolien Sasse, Water, Peace, Security expert and consultant, as well as co-founder of WPS, shared key findings from a risk and resilience assessment carried out by World Bank in the region of the Ferghana Valley in Central Asia and compared its implications to the security situation around Lake Turkana in East Africa.
First Sasha Djumena, the World Bank’s Country Program Coordinator in Central Asia took the virtual floor. When describing water as a potential conflict driver, he emphasized the nexus presence of water in providing livelihoods, energy, irrigation, and more. He highlighted the need for permanent regional cooperation in data sharing and dispute resolution mechanisms – where the risk and resilience assessment found the lack of binding agreements. Mr Djumena called for the recognition of World Bank as an important stakeholder in the region, thanks to its neutrality, financing capabilities, and data collection.
In the following, Rabindra Gurung, International Alert’s Country Director for Kenya and Horn of Africa added his points on the importance of community-level approach. According to him, conflicts have to be addressed firstly on the local level, as the “ground might not be able to wait for the political will to come together to address transnational levels”. Mr Gurung highlighted that in East Africa where 60% of the communities are pastoralists, prolonged droughts, rising temperature, increasing water variability and food insecurity, weak governance and poor community water management create a fragile environment where conflict can easily break out.
Dinara Ziganshina, Acting Director of the Scientific Information Centre at the Interstate Commission for Water Coordination in Central Asia emphasised that the cornerstone of development cooperation in water security is the cross-fertilisation between different levels: seeing a problem at the lowest level and then taking action on the highest level.
David Rinnert, Deputy Development Director & Governance Advisor of UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in Central Asia pointed out the sensitivity of raising issues with local governments and advocated for moving beyond the tick-box-exercise, by joint initiatives involving conflict-, gender-, and political economy-sensitivity.
Finally, David Ekwee Ethuro, Former Speaker of the Kenyan Senate Kenya took the floor and explained how water scarcity and conflict about pasture lead to loss of livestock and eventually human lives. He highlighted the Kenyan government’s effort to create the legal framework of conflict- and climate-sensitive initiatives – such as the equalisation fund where 0.5% of the national government’s ordinary revenues are allocated to marginalised areas to develop water infrastructure – and called for a speedy implementation of these actions.
Following the statements of the panellists, the questions of His Excellency Guy Bonvin, Swiss Special Envoy for Water in Central Asia were asked, who himself built a broad vision of the Water-Energy-Food Nexus in development contexts.
Watch the full recording here:
Addressing the Water-Climate-Conflict Nexus: Lessons from Central Asia and Africa