Competition over water resources is on the rise in many countries. Together with other water-related challenges, such as natural disasters or water pollution, this has direct and indirect impacts on people’s lives and livelihoods. With competing interests around water, grievances can occur, conflicts can strike and violence can erupt. Trust-building and dialogue are key to prevent or mitigate such water-related risks to security, stability and peace.
The Water, Peace, & Security Partnership’s (WPS) Global Early Warning Tool identifies hotspots of potential conflict, while our regional work assesses local water-related conflict dynamics to inform decision-making and dialogue at the local level. WPS provides support to key stakeholders addressing water-related security risks through awareness raising, policy advice, tools, capacity development and support for dialogues and planning processes, based on local needs.
Currently, WPS works in four countries where water-related security risks are pressing: Mali, Iraq, Kenya and Ethiopia.
"Through WPS we want to positively influence communities and stakeholders, both at national- and county level, to find sustainable solutions to prevent and resolve water-related conflicts in Turkana County.”
- Daisy Kosgei, Project Officer Kenya, International Alert
Creating shared understanding of water-society links
WPS generates a joint understanding of the functioning of the water-society system as an effective basis for broad acceptance of . When the causal links between environmental, economic, social, cultural and institutional factors are represented in a diagram, this helps local stakeholders to identify those factors that can be altered to their interest.
Analyzing potential solutions
The joint analysis of potential solutions is aimed at a shared understanding of how to influence the system. This can help local stakeholders to set boundary requirements for solutions to issues, with respect to the interests and needs of different groups. Trade-offs can be made transparent and negotiated, which also can contribute to relationship and trust building.
Selecting the best options for solutions
When potential solutions have been identified, their feasibility, effectiveness and impact on the different needs and interests of various groups can be assessed. An iterative process will help stakeholders to internalize new insights in their ways of thinking and working. WPS’ models and tools can support this process by providing information and visualizations of the potential of solutions.
Agreement for future action
Depending on local needs and interests, local decision-making on water management, the prioritizing of investments or socioeconomic incentives can be agreed upon by local stakeholders. Shared strategies can be formulated and joint action can be coordinated.
"Any development interventions including water resource management programmes need to ensure Gender and Conflict sensitivity are well-integrated in its approaches. At WPS, we take proactive and intentional steps to integrate gender and conflict sensitivity in our work to better understand the context and local needs and act upon the understanding to maximise opportunities for peace.”
- Rabindra Gurung, Country Director Kenya and the Horn of Africa, International Alert