By Adriano Biza and Natalia Reyes Tejada
On 18th November 2020, we had our third webinar on Governance and Inclusive Management of Urban Water, with about 45 participants. Read all about it below.
The first presentation was given by Adriano Biza with the topic ‘Challenges and opportunities to institutionalize water reuse in Mozambique’. His presentation explored the existing opportunities to adopt and integrate water reuse into the institutional and policy framework of the urban water sector in Mozambique.
His presentation covered several topics that stood out: (i) enabling policy environment with a focus on National Water Law and Policy Environment, (ii) enabling policy environment underlining existing environmental legislation, (iii) institutional framework for water and sanitation breaking down the roles and responsibilities for different actors in the water and sanitation sector, (iv) delegated management framework, (v) enabling regulatory powers highlighting agencies and responsibilities and exploring the roles of the Water Regulatory Authority, Public Institute (AURA, I.P.), National Agency for Environmental Quality Control (AQUA), (vi) Municipal power and responsibilities and, (vi) municipal existing and enabling policy environment and reforms that can drive the adoption of water reuse.
In terms of final considerations he concluded that firstly, there is a favorable legal, institutional, and regulatory environment for the adoption of water reuse in the water sector in Mozambique, especially in municipal urban contexts. This enabling environment needs retouching, updating, and modernization to make an explicit reference to the water reuse. Secondly, he settled that ongoing reforms and developments in the area of municipal/urban sanitation – implementation of new sanitation and drainage master plans drainage, restructuring of the citywide fecal sludge management, investments in rehabilitation and construction of infrastructure to contain, transport, and treat wastewater in some cities in the country – can drive water reuse adoption. However, he also pointed out that the existence of policies and legislation is not enough, explicit commitment and political will are required due to the challenge of decision-makers’ reluctance within the water sector. This lack of enthusiasm needs to be understood before going to explore how the public would frame water reuse in their everyday lives.
Concerning suggestions, Adriano referred that the National Directorate of Water Supply and Sanitation (DNAAS) would be the body to propose a possible water reuse policy/strategy and coordinate with other sectors (environment, agriculture, health, etc.) and existing regulatory powers in the area of water, environmental sanitation. He outlined two possible entry points (scenarios) for adopting water reuse in policies:
- Scenario 1 – A punctual review of the Water Policy and consideration of water reuse as a political option in Mozambique to reduce pressure on existing water sources, for public health and environmental purposes and efficient and rational use of water.
- Scenario 2 – Develop (formulate + implement) a strategy for the reuse of non-drinking water in Mozambique in rural and urban contexts.
The second speaker was Natalia who presented the article that she is writing at the moment which explores the historical relationship between Maputo’s urban development and urban agriculture. For this, she uses the case of Infulene Valley by studying 5 peasant associations around the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) located in the south of the valley. She introduced her project by explaining that when this research was designed, she thought that urban agriculture in Infulene Valley had remained despite the urban development of the city, but the empirical evidence showed that urban agriculture in green areas is part of the same processes and political relations that produced the city historically. To explain how this conclusion was reached, she identified the most relevant historical events in the city during Mozambique’s post-independence period and in the current political-economic model. She closed her presentation outlining the challenges that urban agriculture in Maputo faces today and presented her recommendations framed in the theme that concerned the webinar: How to make Integrated Management of Urban Water truly integrated and inclusive. Can we talk about integrated urban water management if we do not include irrigation and user organizations, civil society, and local control structures that are the ones who decide on land and water allocation de facto?
Dr. van Koppen’s presentation first gave an overview of the importance of self-supply and informal water economies in Africa with a projection onto the close future. Having categorized the models of water supply into 4 types according to the degree of public involvement in the distribution of water for domestic use, she shows how most of the African population will continue to depend on their own means to access water. Having reached this conclusion, she calls attention to the risk of implementing first-world solutions for providing public sanitation services in developing countries. In her presentation she made a case for recognizing the opportunities in each individual context, but also the challenges, for instance, she explained how in South Africa corruption has historically been an obstacle for an equitable distribution of water services. She used this example for making a case for the need to decolonize legislation and concluded by stating that it is urgent to recognize informal water tenure and participatory approaches to urban water management for it to respond to the reality on the field and to make it inclusive and integrated in practice.
Dr. van Koppen’s presentation.
The first question was a request to identify what would be an entry point to make a difference on the field, rather than changing Maputo’s whole water policy and institutional framework. All of the presenters in the webinar agreed in their answers: we need to first understand what is going on in the field, listen to people’s solutions, not to romanticize informal water economies (in Barbara’s research) but to recognize their potential in IUWM. For this, it is mandatory to include the users’ organizations and let them dictate what the needs in their everyday urban reality are and those needs should inform the planning efforts as in what is feasible to be improved in the current development conditions. Natalia advocated bringing Maputo’s urban reality closer to the planners and planning processes. Adriano also made the case to spread the knowledge throughout the water sector, particularly to the technicians who are those who implement the policies in practice. In sum, a reconceptualization of those water practices identified as informal was proposed, not to “formalize” them by recognizing them in the law, but to stop targeting them as the enemy of development and to think how we can make them part of IUWM instead. Another critical aspect that has been learned from the discussions is that how the ongoing WASH reforms, including the deployment of new approaches (IUWM) and technological solutions (water reclamation), would addressee the city WASH injustices issues, i.e. the current inequities in access to water and sanitation services and unequal distributions of environmental risks across the city/country.