Livelihoods in semi-arid areas depend upon a biological resource base underpinned by access to water. With increasing human populations and water stress come pressures to harness water resources for 'higher economic value' uses, instead of an integrated approach that includes provisions for ecosystem conservation and livelihood sustainability.
Nowhere is this lack of integration more prevalent than in the semi-arid regions of Africa. The linkages between Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), Sustainable Livelihoods (SL) and Biodiversity Conservation (BC) are poorly known. River basin management, biodiveristy conservation and livelihood programmes in Africa have evolved independently, with often overlapping and/or conflicting goals and responsibilities.
The result has been persistent intra- and trans-boundary conflicts; leading to increasing poverty and declines in biological diversity. This proposal will address this disparity by recognising that IWRM, BC and SL are irretrievable linked and that water management and policy initiatives focusing on individual aspects are likely to fail.
It will aim, therefore, to resolve this gap by initiating and promoting inter-disciplinary and international collaboration to integrate sustainable water resource management, biodiversity conservation and livelihoods using the Mara river basin as a case study. It will provide a platform for policy makers, practitioners and researchers to consolidate expertise on African IWRM systems and draw on experiences from the implementation of the EU-Water Framework Directive to promote and reinforce the vital synergies between IWRM, BC and SL.
The Mara river basin system in Kenya and Tanzania will form the case study for this project and it is envisaged that the principles and outcomes derived from this SSA could provide an integrated framework for future policy development and research covering other vulnerable river basins throughout the semi-arid Africa.
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