Innovations in water quality monitoring and management in Africa: towards developing an African Water Quality Program (AWaQ)

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The African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) Secretariat committed to design and implement an African Water Quality Program (AWaQ) in its Strategic Operational Plan (2020-2024) considering the guiding frameworks it uses such as the Africa Water Vision 2025, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the African Union Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. AMCOW reached out to the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) to support the development of such a program.

AWaQ builds on the rich experiences and lessons learned from past and ongoing regional and subregional water quality initiatives across Africa by different players, including African Union institutions, and the wider members of the World Water Quality Alliance (WWQA), as well as the AMCOW African Water and Sanitation Sector Monitoring and Reporting System (WASSMO).

The five phases of developing an African Water Quality Program (AWaQ) are explained in the following papers:

1. State of Water Quality Monitoring and Pollution Control in Africa (phase 1-2)
2. Innovations in Water Quality Monitoring and Management in Africa (phase 3-4)
3. A Framework for an African Water Quality Program (AWaQ) (phase 5)
4. Country Water Quality Profiles

This paper is the second in the above list and documents the greatest innovations in water quality monitoring and management in Africa, and proposes interventions to strengthen Africa’s current water quality monitoring and management efforts. Innovations related to monitoring program design, analytical techniques and instruments, deployment of instrumentation and approaches to water quality monitoring are presented together with their applicability and suitability for implementation in Africa. Similarly, water quality management interventions — policy and regulatory mechanisms, catchment-based management, data management and sharing, wastewater reuse and nature-based solutions, among others — are examined. The most suitable interventions are proposed for African contexts using criteria such as affordability, scalability and flexibility.

Key findings of this paper highlight the following:

1. There are numerous innovations within water quality monitoring and management. However, not all of them may be suitable for implementation in resource-constrained environments characteristic of many parts of Africa. For example, statistical analysis and modelling may require large amounts of existing monitoring data currently unavailable in most African countries. Nonetheless, other interventions such as the priority monitoring approach can be beneficial in optimizing resource utilization. Similarly, technological interventions such as multi-parameter sensors for basic water quality variables are now widely available and affordable in the provision of in situ results and lessening the need for laboratory analysis.
2. Available and existing traditional methods of water quality monitoring and management offer a good starting point to further strengthen and streamline efforts for increasing efficiency and effectiveness. Currently available laboratory facilities may benefit from instrumentation upgrades and continuous staff training.
3. There is scope for community and citizen engagement in the various processes of water resources monitoring and management. There is evidence that this enables success where governments do not have the monitoring capacity or adequate resources.

Ditation :

Mukuyu, Patience; Warner, S.; Chapman, D. V.; Jayathilake, Nilanthi; Dickens, Chris; Mateo-Sagasta, Javier. 2024. Innovations in water quality monitoring and management in Africa: towards developing an African Water Quality Program (AWaQ). Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute (IWMI). 52p. (IWMI Working Paper 208) [doi:]

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