The World Bank said in a statement issued on Wednesday night, that the Horn of Africa Ground Water for Resilience Project (HoAGWRP), a new multi-phased project, will boost the region’s capacity to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Boutheina Guermazi, World Bank Director for Regional Integration for Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Northern Africa said “world Bank experience shows that gaining knowledge on aquifers is a long term project.
“Building trust around shared groundwater resources, and jointly developing groundwater management mechanisms among countries involve a long-term trajectory that needs to be approached gradually.’’
The lender said the project fostered cooperation with Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
It said the African countries would work together to tap into the region’s largely untapped groundwater resources to cope with and adapt to drought and other climate stressors impacting their vulnerable borderlands.
Djibouti and South Sudan had also expressed interest in joining the programme in subsequent phases, it said.
The World Bank said the first phase of the project was estimated to reach 3.3 million direct beneficiaries, of whom at least 50 per cent were women, through interventions designed to increase access to water supply and reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts.
The project will also contribute to improving food security in a region undergoing severe drought.
Daher Elmi Housssein, IGAD’s Director of Agriculture and Environment Division, said groundwater constituted a natural buffer against climate variability and change, as it was available in times of drought when other surface or subsurface resources were scarce.
“The potential is vast, and we are committed to building inclusive community-level use of this shared resource, along with better information, infrastructure, and institutions to ensure our groundwater is sustainably managed for generations to come,” Elmi said.
The lender said the project would establish the building blocks that would enable the medium and long-term agenda of improving transboundary water management in the Horn of Africa.
IGAD, a seven-member East African bloc that groups Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda, will play a central role as the main promoter and facilitator of the long-term regional strategy, including data and information sharing.