WaterNet’s success as a regional capacity building network is evident in increased capacity for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) within the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region and beyond. For Phase IV (2017-2021), the network seeks to increase the regional institutional and human capacity in IWRM in pursuit of more equitable water management, reduced poverty levels, improved livelihoods, and environmentally sustainable development. The challenge facing the network for the on-going phase is to find means of continuing to develop capacity while increasing the relevance to the region of its academic programmes, professional training, collaborative research and outreach.
WaterNet’s achievements since 2000 offer proof of concept that regionally-based capacity development of water sector professionals in IWRM fills a real need and contributes to improved water sector planning and management. Hence, WaterNet has embarked in capitalizing on the capacity it has built over the years to inform outcome pathways leading directly to impact for the future. While WaterNet continues to invest in capacity development of water professionals related to IWRM, it now more than before uses its extensive network of alumni and other professionals to inform and revise academic curriculum in line with the region’s most pressing developmental needs, including climate change, in pursuit of sustainable development. Similarly, short professional training courses, collaborative research and outreach will be more oriented toward addressing the same goal.
In order to contribute to sustainable development, WaterNet is working toward building bridges between its key partners and those responsible for implementing IWRM on the ground. Bridging gaps between the supply side (represented by WaterNet member institutions) and the demand side (those implementing IWRM) will increase WaterNet’s relevance in regional capacity building. Therefore, WaterNet is working toward developing mechanisms to regularly identify trends and knowledge gaps across academic disciplines, professional trainings and collaborative research. The identified ‘needs’ are being analysed and incorporated into WaterNet’s curriculum, professional training, collaborative research and outreach programmatic interventions.
AfriAlliance is one of the examples that materialise WaterNet aspiration of strengthening capacity to co-create regional water solutions in a changing environment. WaterNet’s role in the AfriAlliance consortium further supports the Phase IV focus. WaterNet leads the part of the project that strives towards enhanced knowledge sharing and technology transfer through various knowledge brokerage and outreach events. Beyond the SADC region, where WaterNet operates, the AfriAlliance project provides a well-structured pathway towards enhanced and sustained regional cooperation and research capabilities in delivering water and climate solutions for the African continent.