World Africa Day celebrates the creation of the African Union, a continental organisation created after independence, whose current objective is to promote unity and solidarity between African states, in order to strengthen, among others, cooperation for development.
In order to understand the role of cooperation at the African basin organizations level, we gave the floor to Judith Efundem Agbor Enwaw, General Secretary of the International Commission of the Congo-Oubangui-Sangha Basin (CICOS) and former President of the African Network of Basin Organizations, a central partner for INBO.
1)World Africa Day, scheduled for 25 May, commemorates the creation of the Organization of African Union, which marked the independence and development of cooperation between African states. How did the creation of ANBO allow and still allows today to strengthen a cooperation framework within the African Union?
First of all, I think that it is important to understand the vision behind the creation of ANBO: it is the desire to cooperate on water, an essential resource for human life. It is important to know that within the African Union, there are many technical commissions that exchange on several issues, including the African Minister Council of Water (AMCOW), the council of Ministers in charge of water composed of Member States, which carries the AU vision on water, towards its realisation.
Thanks to the strong recommendation of this body, ANBO was created , with the main objective of bringing together water stakeholders in a single platform where Ministers can have access to specialised interlocutors with expert knowledge on water resources management and, more specifically, shared waters management. ANBO is a real technical body of AMCOW, essential for the implementation and achievement of the objectives of the Agenda 2025 and the African Union's Vision 2063 on water.
ANBO is not a political tool, it has, above all, a consultative vocation in order to support its members to improve water governance. We prioritise our activities on exchange of experiences, knowledge sharing and institutional support, to enable all members to better adapt to the issues and challenges related to sustainable resource management. Through horizontal and vertical collaboration, ANBO offers its members an opportunity to strengthen inter-state cooperation within the African Union.
2)Why cooperation in water management at the basin level is essential to address current and future water challenges on the African continent?
Cooperation between water stakeholders at national, transboundary and inter-basin levels, is a guarantee for sustainable water resources management. Although there are common challenges across Africa, these may vary, according to the geographical location of the basins. While drought and resource scarcity are more likely to affect the Southern African basins, at the Congo Basin scale, for example, the challenges remain focused not on the resource scarcity, but rather on the transformation of the water resource into a real tool for economic development, integration and social cohesion.
As a network, we try, through the exchange of experience, to promote bilateral cooperation and build strong relationships between basin organisations so that they are able to respond effectively to the diversity of needs. For example, the International Commission of the Congo-Oubangui-Sangha Basin (CICOS) has developed tools and activities related to the promotion of navigation. A few years ago, CICOS launched a discussion with the Organisation pour la Mise en Valeur du fleuve Sénégal as they can benefit this experience at its scale.
Water resource monitoring, knowledge and data collection, are other challenges facing basin organisations. Through cooperation, a majority of them has developed tools that improve the mobilisation and optimal allocation of transboundary resources and uses. The data collection and sharing have also been strengthened, which now allows better decision-making for optimal resource management.
3) How does the partnership between ANBO and INBO contribute to the strengthening of cooperation mechanisms betwee African basin organizations ? What prospects do you see for the future?
Our integration in the International Network of Basin Organizations is essential because it enables us to establish relations with the regional networks affiliated to INBO (REBOB, EURO-INBO, CEENBO etc.) You know, nobody can "go it alone" when it comes to water governance at the scale of transboundary water resources. By working together, we will be able to achieve optimal water resource management on a global scale.