World Water Day 2011

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World Water Day 2011

"During the dry season, the water from our spring would drip so slowly that we would have to line up and even sleep at the spring just to get some water," says Lucy Njoki, chairperson of the Rumbia Women's Group in the Mount Kenya area of central Kenya. Deforestation, overpopulation and mismanagement have been destroying and degrading springs and streams all over the area. Water scarcity and contamination are growing concerns.

The IFAD-funded Mount Kenya East Pilot Project for Natural Resource Management (better known as MKEPP) helps groups like the Rumbia Women's Group strengthen and organize themselves for better water management. Since MKEPP began supporting the establishment of community-elected water users' associations, there is more clean water available, hygiene has improved and a long-term management plan is in place for most river basins. The associations monitor pollution levels in the rivers, rehabilitate irrigation schemes and plant trees and vegetation to protect riverbanks and natural springs. Without vegetation to protect the soil and prevent water from evaporating, springs progressively dry up and water sources that were once abundant and clean can no longer be used.

Mount Kenya is a vital resource. Known as the country's ‘largest water tower' it supplies water to the three million inhabitants of the nation's capital Nairobi, and two million people in surrounding rural areas. It helps generate 50 per cent of Kenya's hydropower.

Water for all

This year's World Water Day theme, ‘Water for Cities', highlights the intimate connection between resource management for rural and urban areas. The water that flows to cities originates in rural areas, and it is in rural areas that the critical work of protection and management of this essential resource is grounded.

"All over the world, environmental degradation, population pressure and changes in climate are threatening the quantity and quality of available water. Springs, rivers and water basins often originating in remote areas provide water for agriculture, fisheries, hydroelectric power and industry, and also feed and power our cities," says Rudolph Cleveringa, Senior Technical Adviser for Rural Development, Water Management and Infrastructure at IFAD. "Water resources are under increasingly severe stress and competition because demand for water is growing in rich and poor societies alike."

At IFAD, we promote more sustainable and equitable water management practices. We support sustainable water management practices that are helping to halt or reverse declines in water availability and quality. We are part of a global community of practice encouraging multiple water use systems. These systems work to secure synergies in water use for different purposes, from different sources, by different people, at different times throughout the year.

Smallholder farmers not only play a major role as global food producers, they also manage ecosystems that others depend on too. "It is crucial that we help farmers use these natural assets sustainably," says Cleveringa.

Location

Rome

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