A framework for 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 is 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 third in the above list and is the culmination of the development of AWaQ. It provides a foundational structure for developing a framework for AWaQ and is guided by the three principles of state custodianship, co-development, and coordination and collaboration. It has been proposed that AMCOW Member States will retain their sovereignty and become custodians of the data and information generated as part of AWaQ, and will be closely involved in the development of program activities. Further, AWaQ entails coordination and collaboration between regional, global and transboundary institutions and initiatives involved in water quality monitoring, assessment and management.

The framework for AWaQ rests on the following four core components which were developed based on stakeholder consultations and literature studies:

1. Governance
2. Water quality monitoring
3. Data management
4. Capacity building

AWaQ will aim to deliver within each of these core components. The governance component of AWaQ will build on already existing country governance structures and regulatory provisions through management approaches such as Integrated Water Resources Management and Catchment-based Water Management, with the aim of achieving the goal of improved water quality. The water quality monitoring component will aim to encourage countries to collect basic water quality data to support regional and global indicators. The data management component will make use of decentralized national platforms, where countries submit only final national assessments to AMCOW for reporting and planning while retaining the raw data on their own databases. Lastly, the capacity building component would be coordinated through AMCOW to deliver standardized and tailor-made training to Member States with support from global donors.

Development of this framework needs to be followed by a strategic implementation plan that would provide a road map for implementing AWaQ. The strategic implementation plan would involve a series of steps, including stakeholder mapping, clarified roles and responsibilities, budgets, key indicators and associated monitoring programs, and overall coordination and reporting mechanisms. Specific activities under each core component of the framework need to be designed to meet the objectives of AWaQ. This paper only goes as far as providing the overall framework for AWaQ.

Citation : Mukuyu, Patience; Dickens, Chris; Jayathilake, Nilanthi; Tijani, M.; Chapman, D. V.; Warner, S. 2024. A framework for an African Water Quality Program (AWaQ). Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute (IWMI). 22p. (IWMI Working Paper 209)

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