TODAY and tomorrow could prove to be important and mark a milestone regarding the direction Zimbabwe will take when it comes to investing in water resources and infrastructural development.
By Peter Makwanya
The Water Resources Infrastructure Investment Conference being hosted by the Environment, Water and Climate ministry, could not have come at a better time, as there a number of policy and procedural gaps that need to be covered so that the country cannot continue to experience water related poverty, while there is the abundance of the precious liquid.
The government has its own blueprint and programmes that it hopes will bring about a new water era and we should keep an eye on what change and improvements these projects can bring.
According to the country’s vision and long term plans, these projects will bring in investments, a new water and infrastructural revolution, climate action and finance and resilience activities.
Maybe the government considers that it has not accomplished much and now is the right time to roll out a proper plan with measurable targets.
It is important that authorities are wary of water and climate-related barriers, obstacles and pitfalls that the country has to navigate through before reaching the promised land of water efficiency and sustainability.
In many times and situations, when nations design projects, they are usually too ambitious.
Most of the targets are far removed from the realities and experiences of the locals.
This is because, instead of looking for local solutions, policy planners are under pressure to come up with project proposals that appeal to funders.
It is, therefore, important that at the Water Resources Infrastructure Investment Conference, any plans and resolutions should put local communities first.
It is common knowledge that business and the private sector always aim big because they are in it for profit and they may not want to fund small-scale projects, because these may not be so profitable.
For any country to engage and promote sustainable water-related projects, there must be sound infrastructure like dams, roads and treatment facilities.
The management of underground water is another critical component.
History has also taught us that, no matter how high-sounding the blueprints and policy documents are, if the projects do not appeal to the local community’s needs, they are bound to fail.
Thus, policy makers should look for investors in areas that locals have identified in terms of water resources management and infrastructure development.
Governments in developing countries should not wait to be dictated upon by foreign administrations, but rather they should take the lead in identifying gaps.
Land restoration and conservation should be considered, as they always thrive in the presence of water resources and sound infrastructural mechanisms, in order to support and influence positive growth.
This will promote the active participation of the locals and the government.
As for the private sector, there must be tailored sponsorship and participation designed to support and uplift communities.
The safety of water bodies is paramount and should not be compromised by pollution, siltation and sedimentation.
Water treatment, waste water disposal systems, sewage disposal and flood controlling mechanisms should be up to standard.
Although there is bound to be a lot of jargon and technical issues at the conference, the overall objective should be investing in life-long water, environment and climate resilience.
Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his capacity and can be contacted on: firstname.lastname@example.org