H2O Catalyst: Live Interactive Broadcast from World Water Week
From The Front Lines:
How Global Conflicts Are Changing Water’s Value
On August 29th, 2017 policymakers, security analysts, investors, educators, scholars, and students as well as leaders from companies and aid agencies took part in a timely interactive town hall about water and conflict.
J. Carl Ganter
J. Carl Ganter is co-founder and director of Circle of Blue, the internationally recognized center for original frontline reporting, research, and analysis on resource issues with a focus on the intersection between water, food, and energy. Carl — an award-winning photojournalist, reporter, and broadcaster — is recognized for developing the keen skills that helped to shape the multimedia journalism era. He received the Rockefeller Foundation’s Centennial Innovation Award (2012).
Corinne Graff is a senior policy scholar at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where her work focuses on promoting effective, whole-of-government approaches to mitigating state fragility and conflict risk in developing countries.
Sunya Orre is the Director at Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority. NDMA is an agency of the Government of Kenya mandated to establish mechanisms which ensure that drought does not result in emergencies and that the impacts of climate change are sufficiently mitigated.
Dr. Geoffrey D. Dabelko
Dr. Geoffrey D. Dabelko is a professor and director of the Environmental Studies Program at the George V. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University in Athens, OH. He teaches and conducts research on natural resources, conflict, and peacebuilding; global environmental politics; climate change and security; and environmental leadership.
Roger-Mark De Souza
Roger-Mark De Souza is the director of population, environmental security, and resilience for the Wilson Center. He leads programs on climate change resilience, reproductive and maternal health, environmental security, and livelihoods, including the Global Sustainability and Resilience Program, Environmental Change and Security Program, and Maternal Health Initiative.
Ramon Scoble is a hydrogeologist and environmental advisor to the management of Griffin Group in Yemen. His work there over the last two decades has ranged in scale from province-wide assessments of water resource availability down to village-level understanding of water use – the conflicts, the actors, the solutions.
Dr. Sadoff has three decades of diverse and distinguished experience as a global researcher and development practitioner. She has engaged with development experts and policy makers at the highest levels in dozens of countries, addressing a wide range of water development challenges, including climate adaptation, drought and flood response, and transboundary river basin management.
Dr. Jägerskog has worked extensively with Transboundary Waters and security issues in the Middle East and Africa for the past decade. He is frequently consulted in national and international media on issues relating to global water issues, especially the inter linkages between water, conflict and security issues in Southern Africa and MENA region.
Maitreyi Bordia Das
Maitreyi Bordia Das is the World Bank’s Global Lead for Social Inclusion. Based in Washington DC, she works on issues of inequality and exclusion and on the design and implementation of social policy and programs
Brett writes about agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and the politics and economics of water in the United States for Circle of Blue. Brett also writes the Federal Water Tap, Circle of Blue’s weekly digest of U.S. government water news. He is the winner of two Society of Environmental Journalists reporting awards, one of the top honors in American environmental journalism: first place for explanatory reporting for a series on septic system pollution in the United States (2016) and third place for beat reporting in a small market (2014).
J. Carl Ganter: An urgent conversation today. We’ll focus on the unique intersection between water value and current events. Especially as repercussions of water scarcity and lack of access are reaching across borders and upending the lives of millions of people.
As you are just joining H2O Catalyst, and many for the first time, the show opens with special guests who cue up the latest news and context. Then we’ll go into three expert led, facilitated breakout groups, where you will have the opportunity to share your voice in this important conversation. I assure you this isn’t a typical webinar. To fully participate today, we do recommend that you have both an audio connection by phone or by web, and a visual interface using your PC, or MAC computer.
If you haven’t already logged into the visual interface, please open the reminder email you received from MaestroConference two hours ago, and a day ago. In that email you were given a phone line to call in on, and your unique six digit pin. Below the pin is a link to the visual interface, where you will be able to see our visuals during today’s event, and ask questions during our breakout sessions. You will also be able to use your keys on your phone when prompted, to raise your ha-.
Hi everybody. And, welcome to H2O Catalyst. I am J. Carl Ganter, Director of Circle of Blue. Thanks for your patience hearing my voice in the setup there. We’re coming to you live from Stockholm World Water Week, with another interactive broadcast in the H2O Catalyst series. If you’re joining us on the social webinar, you can let your networks know about today’s event by sending the Tweet displayed on your screen, now. And to share your questions and comments via Twitter, which we’ll be following here, use the hashtag #KnowWater. And that’s spelled K-N-O-W, water. And you will also have the chance to discuss these issues live during today’s event, in special breakout groups with expert guests and top journalists.
And this H2O Catalyst is part of a series of urgent conversations about the world’s number one goal risk. Risks to supplies of fresh water around the planet. It comes as repercussions of water scarcity and access are moving across borders and upending lives, and economies. A sharp drought was a contributing factor to the Syrian Civil War and human migration. At the same time, radical groups are leveraging social stress caused by drying wells and crop failures. This is a news story that’s happening now on multiple fronts. And at the core of all of these challenges is the question, how do we value water? And what values are necessary to motivate response in an era of climate change and increasing competition between water, food, and energy?
And today in Stockholm, and from points around the world, in the face of these urgent and current events, we’ve gathered an impressive group for a special discussion today. And these are leaders, and you, who are grappling with profound challenges every day, and working to develop the responses and the solutions. After opening remarks we’ll be going to our experts and into breakout groups where you can join the conversation.
Our discussion leaders are from the Wilson Center in Washington, The World Bank, Circle of Blue, and the International Water Management Institute. The results of the program, including a podcast version, will be posted online.
So now we’re going to start with Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of the Stockholm International Water Institute, and our host here at World Water Week. Torgny, one of the big conversations that’s shaping the world’s current event now is, how we value water, and what’s that actually mean? And we might think of water as value in economic terms as prices and the cost of delivery. But because water connects people and nature, value has other dimensions as well. What makes this such a difficult conversation? Or at least seemingly difficult conversation to have. The conversation about the value of water, and why is it important that it really seems to be surfacing now?
Torgny Holmgren: Thanks a lot, Carl. Yes, we are coming here from Stockholm, a gorgeous sunny day here in Stockholm. World Water Week, second day into the conference. A lot of discussions ongoing, actually on the very topic of this conversation, the value of water. And to me, I believe it’s very critical to be able to reach and achieve the [inaudible 00:04:32], but we need to discuss more in depth, the very concept of value of water. And as you are alerted to of course the value of water has many, several dimensions. Of course there’s economic, pricing, tariffs, et cetera. But those are social, environmental, cultural, and religious. A number of sections here in Stockholm, they live with these issues.
It’s a complicated issue, I am the first to underscore. Because even if we discuss it in economic terms, the pricing, et cetera, it’s not an easy game. If we are compared to other sectors where you can have global pricing, et cetera [inaudible 00:05:11]. Localists say you need to handle it in the local markets. But then we have, of course, the different dimensions. Because we all will not survive without water, even our businesses in reproduction or ag-production will not be able to undertake without water.
So I think, in that sense, we need to also look into and beyond economic dimension. The social, the environmental, cultural, and religious. I recall when I was visiting India two years ago, and discussed the teen gang approach by the current president over there. I think what I heard is that he reached out his two constituencies, the one is industry, the other is faith leaders, which means that this is something that all these people, the very heart of every human being. So I think we need to also broaden the scope, to bring in the different dimensions when we discuss the value of water. Having said that, I look forward, because there is a very high level panel of water that has a safe panel of water currently, finalizing their report that I think will be titled in Brasilia world waterfall when it is mandated.
One of the mental pick is looking at the value of water. I think I take it for granted that they have different dimensions, and they look into these, and come forward. Maybe not their recommendation, but the approach is how you can handle and how you can commonly, us in the water community, but also at large, discuss and find ways and means that we, what I would call, revalue water. Because I think that is needed to deepen our understanding to show more respect for this precious resource and thus be better prepared to be more careful and efficient use of it in the future.
J. Carl Ganter: Great. Thank you, Torgny Holmgren. Big story, big conversation around the value of water. Here in Stockholm and on to Brasilia, the World Water Forum, in March 2018. Joining us here in the room here, at World Water Week in Stockholm, we’re going to set the scene with three experts and report authors who can add some timely context to this wider conversation, around the value of water and some of the big stories unfolding here.
So around the table here, we’re joined by Claudia Sadoff, recently named the Director General of the International Water Institute in Sri Lanka. Claudia is focused on really, the turbulent dynamics of water and fertility conflict, and even violence. We also have Anders Jägerskog, of the World Bank. Anders is a specialist in trans bounding waters and waters governance, particularly in the mid-east and Africa. Thanks for being with us. And to my immediate left we have Richard Damania, a global leading economist in the World Bank’s water practice, who’s joined us this afternoon.
I really just wanted to open this up for just a few minutes to get us started in our conversation for the next, more than an hour here. And a bigger value conversation, we were talking about water scarcity and drought. We frequently talk about resilience, which often gets applied to the hard things, the infrastructure. How do we bring in the people … Torgny talked about faith toward it. Nick talked about engaging people in the wider water value conversation … How do you make investments that can fortify against water scarcity and shifting water supplies in this frame of water value? It’s kind of a wide open question, but we have a whole wide open week of big conversations going on here. Who’d like to start? Richard.
Richard: Okay, thanks very much Carl. That is certainly a very big question. When dealing with water, and dealing with the value of water, I think what we all really need to do is to try to seek the sweet spot that Torgny was talking about. The value of water is much more than it’s price. It’s much more than the economic dimension of water. There’s a social dimension. In fact, every civilization has a water mesa. So whether you go to Christianity, whether you go to the Abrahamic religions, or if you go, that’s very strong. And of course, underpinning all of that, water is quintessentially a natural resource, an environmental resource.
The real challenge going forward, is to ensure that anything that we do can ensure that this resource is there for tomorrow. In short, that what we are not doing is subtracting from these other values that we have. And that’s difficult at the best of times. And it gets more and more difficult as water becomes more scarce, because you have more trade offs. There’s not one uniform, simple, low cost benefit formula that we can use, but it’s a much more complex decision making process.
I think here as we go forward, is to bring the conversation, to widen the conversation to bring in these other dimensions, or these other values, every time you decide to make an investment or do anything.
Claudia Sadoff: Go ahead. This is Claudia Sadoff. Some of these investments in water, trying to really capture the broad value of water, it’s important to look at investments that are made in the management of water. And the management of water both to leverage its productive aspects, and to manage its destructive aspect.
A lot of the investments that we talk about are in the productive aspects of water. How do we deliver basic water drinking services to individuals and to communities. To underlie and to underpin basic health and productivity? How do we deliver reliable agricultural water to irrigators and farmers so that they can provide the food that is necessary for our people in our communities? And how do we deliver water to the ecosystems that our life depends on as well. So the value of water and all of those uses, and the value of the systems and the sometimes infrastructural, sometimes institutional systems that deliver water for all the productive ways in which water contributes to human endeavors in society and well being.
But there’s also the flip side of water. There is also very much the destructive aspect of water, which Carl alluded to as well, which is the increasingly frequent and extreme droughts and floods that we anticipate seeing with climate change. So investments in water also at the same time need to be cognizant of protections against these sorts of tragedies. Investments in the monitoring and warning systems of hydro met, of water flows and weather fluxes. Investments in preparing societies for these events. Back up sources of water, safe spaces and retention areas during flood events, to ensure that lives and livelihood are adequately protected. This is really at the heart of resilience to climate change. This is really at the heart of adaptation to climate change. I think a particular reference was made to the Syrian drought, to make sure that the source of uncertain, but arguably expected extremes won’t exacerbate or act as risk multipliers in areas of fertility and conflict in particular, where human lives are so vulnerable.
J. Carl Ganter: Thank you Claudia Sadoff. I appreciate that. I also wanted to go to Anders Jägerskog. Anders, we’ve seen a whole range of reports and of ground breaking stories coming out of World Water Week this year here. We seem to have a confluence, not only just around the conversation of the value of water, but a real systems approach. What are your perspectives? What are you seeing happening, to tee us up for our bigger conversation today?
Anders Jägerskog: Okay, thank you very much, Carl, for allowing me to be a part of this. I’d like to zoom in on a couple of things. Drawing on a report that was released today, Beyond Scarcity, looking at the Middle East, North Africa. One of the things that we are highlighting, which I would argue is related to the value of water, is the water productivity. In the Middle East, North Africa region we have some of the most water productive, meaning how much economic value you get out of every liter of water, or cubic meter of water. And you also have some of those that are the most productive. So there’s some challenges there. Or, which could be, on the flip side of that, they are not presented an opportunity to improve. In MENA there are some, if you want to go to the challenges there, there are rather large in certain parts, subsidies to agricultural water, which is understandable because it’s something that provides for the people.
At the same time, moving forward into a sustainable management of water in the region and elsewhere, I would argue, getting a more proper subsidy and level and price of the agricultural water is necessary, moving forward as we need to, to curb some of that water use.
There are good examples of that from the region as well. I can highlight examples from Saudi Arabia, from Jordan, where they are trying to work with the agricultural water prices. So that’s encouraging, and also tells us that this is something that we can do, and the region can do.
I would also like to highlight, in coming back and linking to what was said earlier by my colleagues here, the next generation. The youth, we need to involve the youth to get their perspectives. Also, if you want to achieve a new water consciousness, which is much needed I think globally, but also in the MENA region, which includes the proper valuing of water. We need to involve them in a much more tangible and real way. And I think this is important in the discussion moving forward. Thank you.
J. Carl Ganter: That’s terrific. Thank you, Anders Jägerskog. And also, thank you to Richard Damania and Claudia Sadoff. Thanks for being with us. We captured at least a start for our conversation here today. Some of the productive aspects of water. A powerful way to set the scene. Talking about youth, beyond the scarcity. We’ll talk a little bit more about water and gender later in the program. And developing a new water consciousness. I think that’s what we’re all talking about here.
And to advance that water consciousness a bit, let me introduce my colleague, Bret Walton. Senior reporter at Circle of Blue. Bret is going to tease the topics for our breakout groups and our other special guests.
Brett Walton: Thanks Carl. A quick note about what’s happening next in the program, in a moment we’ll hear from, Director of Technical Services at Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority. We’ll hear from Corinne Graff, a senior policy scholar at the U.S. Institute of Peace. And Ramon Scoble, a hydrogeologist and environmental advisor to the Griffin Group in Yemen. Each will bring their perspectives on how water value and conflict intersect. After their opening comments you’ll have the opportunity to join one of the speakers in a special breakout group, which will be facilitated by me, along with Roger-Mark De Souza, who is Director of Population, Environmental Security and Resilience for the Wilson Center, in Washington D.C., and Geoff Dabelko, Director of Environmental Studies at Ohio University.
Each of our featured speakers will provide introductory remarks to set the stage for our breakout groups, where we’ll go into more details. These introductory remarks will be about five minutes each for our featured speakers. Our first speaker is Sunya Orre, from Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority. Sunya, what is the view from Kenya?
Sunya Orre: Hi. I hope you can hear me. Let me thank you for involving us in this competition, which appears to be quite informative. Kenya is considered as a water country. Our production system that we [inaudible 00:17:39] production is mainly, largely dependent on plane fed agriculture. 80 percent of the country is arid, semi-arid. This is for the purpose of water and the filter of Kenya’s storage. The water function from independent, has a national level of function coordinating from the national government, but our [inaudible 00:18:12], the water function has been devolved to the Conti garment.
All of our water is managed in Kenya mainly by the communities, at the community level. A mandate of the National Drought Management Authority is best [inaudible 00:18:33] functions. One, is adaptation to climate [inaudible 00:18:44]. The second is that the drought response and contingency planning. And the last one is basically drought early warning, and drought information. So, that’s basically how we manage the drought management in this country.
However, our role is basically to coordinate. Coordinate and provide leadership to tourist growth management. And the water, basically water is the driver of drought level and the drought influx in this country. Because basically we have arranged a system. The mandate basically is to well dry areas where we have most of our [inaudible 00:19:40] of the planes on both sides and that’s where we [inaudible 00:19:43]. Often during the drought period, we extend conflicts. We have different [inaudible 00:19:54] systems when it comes to water in some of our communities. You should not put money on water. One it is social, and at home it is a taboo. And of course it brings challenges in terms of the water systems, at the community level, where we have slight challenges. In some communities, which could be different, although water of course is at the center of social culture, or values of the societies. But in some areas they also put money into the water. Such that they can pay for water. Water again, our biggest challenge that we deal with is that during the drought period, a severe drought period there are conflicts over water because parts of it is moved from the transitional designated areas, to other communities.
Secondly, the pipe is basically ruptured. I can issue an example where in some of the counties, in some of our areas, during the drought period, because in terms of threading for the purpose of the use of 20 liter container, they are paying 50 to 100 shillings for 20 liter container. When the moderate rich person pays 100 shilling per community liter, the poor person pays two thousand five hundred in town [inaudible 00:21:39], next to five thousand, at most in some of those areas. So the division of water, the equity is one of our biggest challenges in this country. And in the case of the National Drought Management Authority, at that time during the drought period, the system gets approving, and there will be [inaudible 00:22:02], and as an authority, we coordinate. We make sure that, my job was not easy, but try as much as possible to help the community at that time, with that need. When after that [inaudible 00:22:20] is not broken down they could not be happy-
Brett Walton: Okay, thank you. Sunya, we’ll be able to go into some of those details in the breakout groups. We’ll get into the conflict between the Pastorali and some of the cash transfer programs that MDMA is helping to provide. So thank you, Sunya.
Our second main speaker, we have Corrine Graff. She’s the Senior Policy Scholar at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Welcome Corrine.
Corrine Graff: Thanks very much Brett, it’s good to be with you. I’m gonna zoom out a little bit to look at the global context, because I think it’s a really critical time today to take a close look at the relationship between water, conflict, and complex emergencies, given the scope of the global humanitarian crisis, which is really quite unprecedented. Four countries on the brink of famine. Yemen, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan. 20 million people at risk of starving to death. And of course, the result of all of this being millions of people displaced worldwide, and many of whom have become refugees outside of their own countries and regions. So I think we have a strong imperative to really understand and address the factors, including water, that are fueling these crises. And if you take a step back to look at what’s driving this unprecedented level of needs, and the role of water in all this. I think the conventional wisdom is that droughts and other natural disasters drive conflict and crises. What we see in many of these crises today, is that natural disasters and droughts do have an important role to play.
In the Horn of Africa for example, the Niña significantly increased rainfalls last year, which ended up reducing agricultural production and contributing to the severe drought that we see today. And of course there’s a long history in the region’s dryland, of water scarcity and drought stoking tensions at the local level, as the previous speaker mentioned. And with climate change we can expect more frequent and intense droughts and floods that are likely to increase local competition in that region and other dry regions, making those countries more vulnerable to conflict and crises.
But at the same time, I think what we see in all four of the countries in particular, that are at risk of famine, is that it’s not just external shocks that are primarily responsible for the potent mix of state fragility and violent conflict. So we had two speakers from the World Bank, and the World Bank has released a report stating that 80 percent of all humanitarian needs today are driven by conflict and fragility. And people living in situations of fragility and conflict are three times more likely to be undernourished than those living in more stable countries. We also know from recent surveys of refugee populations carried out by the U.N., the countries with the highest level of food insecurities and conflict also have the highest migration of refugees. So there’s really a tight relationship between fragility, conflict, and drought.
I think it’s important to disentangle these factors. So what do I mean by fragility? Briefly, each of the four countries version on famine is obviously distinct and the humanitarian crises have various causes. But all of them are among the most fragile countries in the world. To varying degrees their governments lack capacity to respond to shocks, their institutions are weak, or they lack reach. They’re mired in poverty and underdevelopment. They’re experiencing breaks in domestic political order that have resulted in violent conflicts.
So the relationship between fragility, drought and conflict is complex. But I think there are three dynamics in particular that are relevant to this conversation. One, is the fragile-
Brett Walton: Corrine, we might cut you there and save the three dynamics as the tease for …
Corrine Graff: I get into that in the breakouts.
Brett Walton: … in the breakout groups, right. So again, fragility, conflict, and droughts, it’s a complex dynamic that Corrine and Geoff Dabelko will go into in the breakout groups. Our third featured speaker is going to be Ramond Scoble. He is the advisor to the Griffen Group in Yemen. Ramon, you have the floor.
Ramon Scoble: Thanks so much Brett, and also Circle of Blue, for making this virtual venue available for us. And my focus will just be on one of those countries currently mentioned. Two decades ago when I first went to Yemen I found it was the poorest Arab nation. Scarce natural water resources, a predominantly rural population, with high birth rates and a political agenda focusing on reunifying two states that had been separated for 20 years. Water supplies in the countryside were commonly communal, community controlled. Disputes were settled with some version of a local counsel, or a setting of village elders. Meaning water sources were only used by one community, often an extended family. And reason usually prevails when you’re dealing with your in-laws.
In the redeveloping cities at that time, municipal groundwater supply systems were being refurbished from war damage, or upgraded to take advantages of new systems. Control and management was in the hands of an ever changing suite of government ministries and authorities. Sometimes situated a long way away from the water source series. That led to problems of land and water ownership, and well water rights were discussed centrally. Implementation proved difficult with weak central governance and strong community leaders.
A decade on, Yemen remained the poorest Arab nation. Its water is also spread over almost twice as many people as before, reducing per capita availability for the rural poor, to as little as 20 liters per person, per day. Including their household animals. While their search for works was drawing people from the villages to the cities at incredible rates, the rural populations were still increasing too. While many commentators thought that the country was showing burgeoning signs of stability, underneath, ancient social rivalries were simmering, and political intrigue was evident.
Municipal supplies were also becoming stretched to supply what have been claimed maximum rates much earlier than they were designed for. And the search for exploitable ground water supplies began to resemble a race to the bottom of the aqueducts. Rural water supply wells reaching to the seven hundred meters in the North. In the capital city they used oil exploration rigs to test supplies more than a kilometer down. Arrest and conflict was still often local in nature, and rarely, but occasionally, flaring into shooting wars between villages or tribes. Resolution in the [inaudible 00:28:43] were still viable where all the parties could be brought to a sit down negotiation. And thankfully, government figures were humble enough to be a last, rather than a first resort. For the cities though, resource capture and utilization was fraught with difficulties, exacerbated by cases where small mountain basins were left without water. Communities mobilized to prevent the theft of their resources for transmission to the nearby metropolis. And in one well publicized event, thousands of heavily armed tribesmen turned out for days to prevent the government drilling rig from actioning the plan to harvest rural water for the city.
So fast forward to today. Yemen retains its title as the poorest Arab nation, according to the vast majority of humanitarian embassies. Relative stability has turned to war, first civil, now international. Population is still growing. Water at its lowest availability, decreasing to barely survivable levels. Poverty is rampant, and the recent cholera epidemic is at least partially contributable to the water access and availability issues. The absence of root strength and actual departure as in shown with the other countries, the flight of citizens back to the safety of rural homes has pushed many small water supplies to the brink. And with it, stretched even further, those traditional dispute resolution mechanisms.
Municipal systems that remain operational outnumbered by those stilled by fuel or electricity shortages, equipment failure, or plundering. Central governments [inaudible 00:30:14] with little remaining national level strategy or capacity to implement. At the local level, within the metropolitan areas, service quality or even delivery is a lottery of location and influx. So where to from here, with prices of water skyrocketing to bottled water level? The resilience of Yemen communities managing small supplies in the mountains and the planes, is likely to continue to depend on those deeply familial bonds. However, a much wider and inclusive national tie will be required to end wars, rebuild waters being destroyed, and plan for a common future. Thanks Brett.
Brett Walton: Thank you Ramon. A complex and urgent story that’s unfolding right now in Yemen. Thank you to all three of our featured speakers. Now we’re going to go deeper. Panelists and moderators will explore these ideas that we’ve discussed in the introductory statements in greater detail in the interactive breakout groups. Audience members too will participate. First you’ll choose which group you want to be a part of. It’ll be a hard choice I know. We have three experts with deep knowledge of Africa and the Middle East here. Then once you’re in the breakout group, you’ll be able to send questions. The moderators, you can work those questions into the conversation.
I’ll describe our three breakout groups. Our first breakout group is Guns, Herds, and Water. Lessons from Kenya’s Drought. That will be with Sunya Orre, and I’ll be the moderator. Our breakout number two is Migration, Extremism, and Fragile States. That will be with Corrine Graff and moderated by Geoff Dabelko. Breakout number three is Water Scarcity in Yemen. About drilling down to the depth to acquire water. That’s with Ramon Scoble and moderated by Roger-Mark De Souza. You can make your selections now with your phone or keypad. Charlie Rebich from MaestroConference, he’s gonna tell us how this works. Charlie?
Brett Walton: Hi, Sunya, you there?
Sunya Orre: Yes, I’m here. I’m there, yes.
Brett: Okay, looks like we have a pretty good group of audience members, a reminder to people who are listening in, you can type your questions into the shared document that you see in front of you. I’ll be reading those as we converse, Sunya and I, and be working some of those into the conversation.
Sunya, you work for the national drought management authority of Kenya and you said that you have a coordinating role in trying to respond to drought emergencies across the country. I think it’s very interesting, if you go to the drought authority’s website, they have, in the banner, up on the front of the website, that one of the goals of the Kenyan government is to end drought emergencies by 2022, and this, I assume, is one of the role of the National Drought Authority, Sunya, is that right?
Brett: So what are you doing to try and achieve this goal of ending drought emergencies, what would that mean in practice?
Sunya: Yeah, basically ending drought emergencies means that we build a community of students, using a product approach. Using better factors. Secondly, we respond to drought situation as the production of drought information, and linking drought and water information to drought response. I will later on come back to that.
Brett: First, so listeners understand, on the website you publish these drought warning reports, the early information reports, that are quite detailed, with livestock numbers and health and education. How do you get all the information that goes into these reports?
Sunya: Yes, I will collect that data on monthly basis at the household level. The household level, and the markets. Because we collected the information for water and environmental indicators, food availability indicators, the market indicators, and analyze it. We have field monitors at the village level, and at the county level we have a team that’s analyzing that information. Our role in Nairobi is basically just to quality assure, basically. On the national level, it’s mobilized, when it raises.
Brett: Are you looking at the entire country, or certain regions, when you focus on drought emergencies?
Sunya: Our mandate is the entire country, but at the moment because of resource constraint, we are looking at the communities that are arid and semi-arid that is [inaudible 00:02:47]. Yeah, so that’s where at the moment we operate.
Brett: Arid and semi-arid, is that mostly northern Kenya and western Kenya?
Sunya: Mainly northern Kenya, our coastal region. Parts of [inaudible 00:03:13] is over 80% of the country, so it is only mostly center of Kenya. The western, which we don’t cover, and that’s less than 10% of the country.
Brett: Right, and one important part of being able to respond to emergencies is being able to know where resources are needed. It seems like you have a very robust and very deep data collection, with people on the ground feeding you information that goes into these reports that allows you to be able to target where you need assistance. Is that right?
Sunya: Correct. I feel what we do, is that we do a contingency planning process, which is a community endeavor. In our scenario planning, it’s done at the lowest by the community level. They identify their own needs best on the production of the drought. This in those scenarios, they also determine the resource needs, what’s available at their level, at the county level, and more so established because the initial detector, and our role is best to coordinate each sector. For example, the left architecture, we do the whole net. Their own processes. Of course we develop our role and leadership, the water sector. The nutrition sector. Peace and security, because the drought has a very bad act in peace and security, and drought education, because in Kenya education and drought are also highly linked. Drop off case is very high as communities move with their livestock, or if food is not available in schools because of drought, this can cause drop out.
Yeah, so we have … a planning system at the community level. We also have a system for response. We know the solution to most of this is actually [inaudible 00:05:18] specifically money. At the end of the day, because you can buy mainly anything with the system. So, we have a system for this capability to approach an assistance program. We have planned for all households. We also have a drought contingency front, which is again, all this linked to our drought early warning system, where the drought contingency front is directly linked to that warning system, and the drought contingency fund is from the communities.
For example, I will use an example. I don’t know if I am taking a lot of time on this. I will just give you an example. At the county level, they’ve identified water tracking for example. What can you do, for example, with the water tracking. Prepare of the bores. Put to the analytic mold. That will have been in there, it’s post plan. The county government team, with the chairmanship, or the governor, then that is based on the case of drought [inaudible 00:06:33]. Support is provided from a granular level, for the program.
Brett: You mentioned three very interesting things that I want to look at each three of them. One, so the premise of the call is to look at water and value, and how kind of value changes with less water and scarcity. You mentioned education, how education suffers during drought because families move. How does … you also mentioned cash transfers, where the government is actually giving money to families as a form of aid. Can you again speak about how this connection between the money transfers allows for families to stay in place, and for kids to continue to be in school?
Sunya: Yes, and we have done quite independent studies on the impact of the current transfer program. From the studies, we have a subject that first, the ability … of household, too much traces on what they prioritize. The customer program provides a solution to that. They are prioritized from the study that was conducted. The human beings are rational. They look at their short term, and those are the long term solution too, they are telling you.
Of course with the available households, food will be 60%, 30% of their cash transfers, which is expected. The next issue that they have, every household is literally, the next expenditure on the equation. The education, and of course when I say food, what is good, you can live with no food. You can live, but when I say food, what is good within food.
Brett: So the cash transfers, are they available every month to families that qualify?
Sunya: We have two categories of household. First, we have opened bank accounts for all the households in these counties. We have from the poorest to the moderately better off. From number one, to 355,000. Based on the condition and the vulnerability data that we have, and if the funds are available, you do the scale up. You do the regular, which the medical households by what the date is, for logistics and the accountability frameworks that we determined that monthly transfer will be better for us.
Yeah, for the very poor households, it is not the best. For the life of the program. For the households that are better off, the contracts are triggered with the second condition index, which is a scientific indicator. We are close to no worries.
Brett: So the studies that you’ve conducted on who receives these cash transfers show that they’re not, they’re spending them on luxuries, or wantonly spending. They’re spending it on food, first of all, and then education.
Sunya: Yeah, they also spend on, there’s a number to conserve, the process we have taken is the fact that we are telling it in thousands of [inaudible 00:10:25] initially. Because for a household, for cash to be transferred, it has to be to a banking system, and therefore a banking system from … for individuals to meet the requirements, of knowing your customer, they must have matching I.D.s. The idea is that you are prepping, are very more severe. We have presented that … I feel like they would support the ideas we have used. We are benefiting possible for them to be for ideas (I.D.s), but they get that based on what’s made. So, in areas where they have long sum, they are able to also converting small businesses. Like, [inaudible 00:11:11]. Small groceries, yeah.
Some resources are a reasonable number of resources involved in that. Of course, they’re also spending on health as well.
Brett: Yeah, on healthcare. There’s two other programs that I want to speak about briefly that are related to kind of this drought planning, and the response to try and reduce violence and conflict. One of which is livestock. Reading the news, one of the things that makes headlines in the US and in the west, are clashes between pastoralists and herders. What sorts of programs do you have to try to avoid these types of violent interactions between people who are trying to graze their herds on land that may not be theirs?
Sunya: Yes, a coordination framework. A coordination framework, we are accountable by the governor of the county, who is not responsible for the creating it, but responsible for most of other functions. The Ministry of Interior, which is a national government function was here. Through this framework, normally profiles are comprehensive. One is not an accountability, in case two are a catalyst of the county government, the international agency, the UN agencies. Even the local communities, that’s a part of this process. Through this process, we provide advisory … we advise as committees, at the county level, and even at the national level. Technically, and our drought contingency fund.
Livestock, actually [inaudible 00:13:02] of this community. For us, we have decided that because government, where the national or county government normally gets first priority to federalize, we have decided that on our part we focus … even as we support less as well, but we focus on the land view. For example, on our contingency fund, we moved through a process where the location is done from the county level. It’s a web based system, and I think if you don’t have continuous funding, that’s come up. Last protector, took 60% of all the budget for that fund. The ones we prioritize always.
Of course the livestock is followed by water. Livestock need water. When it comes to food, the government normally decides they will live with food issues. So we complement the cash transfer, of course cash transfer is not in leadership, it’s taken that position that it’s here to respond using cash. It is cheaper. You are committed at least here. So in the border government framework, that has been adopted, and yeah. In the current drought we cannot wait. We can allow. We are partnered also with the private sector to profile high quality livestock feed, basically tons of concentrates, pellets. To procure the funds, and … the efficiency, accountability, because this feed is provided by one of our most reputable farms, like [inaudible 00:15:02]. Like, hey, sometimes of course the accountabilities can also be a big challenge.
Yeah, so we prevent that mention, even the sectors like livestock. In terms of making the right decision on how … of the livestock as well. Taking the livestock from the market.
Brett: Yeah, so we have just a few minutes left, and I want to talk about one other program, and that’s the armed violent … violent reduction program, where you’re trying to deal with the guns that are often quite deadly. What is going on with this armed violence reduction program?
Sunya: Yes, well [inaudible 00:15:52] some of our partners that have helped us. First, by establish this system, and also giving material support. For example, under the government assistance program, we have the consistent partner who has been with us for a long time. The [JFID 00:16:14]. One the footsteps, we have the welfare program, which is of course a customer valued by a lateral identity. The UND agencies. UNDP, when it comes to the armed conflict reduction, we ask the UNDP. They are our main partner. Here, our focus has been … working in the communities. Establishing structures for … conflict, management of conflict, resolution. Conflict alimony.
Depending on the situation from primary or national level, up to the community level, certainly this conflicts are basically social based. We also identified a program in the communities, where most of them are fairly … nearly 80% of them are basically water indebted. A project where the major insight is infrastructure together. They going to stop using this together, and then they use these resources, in this way. Also the management system for the water use, is in the community.
We also have a reformed way. Most of the conflicts are actually on them, so we have a program for the reform, from where a program … where young men who are involved in such conflicts are brought together. 80%, and then provided an alternative way of [inaudible 00:18:10]. Apart from … education, in terms of the importance of peaceful co-existence for the benefit-
Brett: What do you mean by an alternative livelihood?
Sunya: Basically, that also identify which of these livelihood … most of them, sometimes actually, we still identify when you’ve got the [inaudible 00:18:34] to livestock. For example, involvement is [crosstalk 00:18:36]-
Brett: With the one minute warning, I guess just one broad final question is, what do you think is the most effective tool that you have to kind of respond to drought, and the value of water going up in times of scarcity?
Sunya: The biggest tool option that we have is our drought allegory system. That informs us, what are the priority issues. Whether it’s livestock, water, health, education. Our coordination framework, that tells us with consensus in terms of how to move on the next step. For example, at the national level, and the cognition that all of us are equal partners, regardless of whether you are government, community or international partners, for some example, the highest level … we are for example the UN being in support with the [MDNA 00:19:57]. We work together basically to provide support to the highest level committee. Which is sometimes offered by the president himself.
Yeah, so … the infrastructure for response … is really, is that the end?
Geoff Debelko: Terrific. This is Geoff Debelko from Ohio University. Corinne, are you there, to make sure that we have you when we start posing questions?
Corinne: I’m here, Geoff. Good to be with you.
Geoff Debelko: Excellent. So Corinne, why don’t we start off and give you a chance to finish that thought that you were working on? You said there were three key considerations to understanding and presumably responding to the complex links among fragility, conflict and drought. Why don’t you give us those three takeaways as a way to start the conversation?
Corinne: Sounds good. What I was going to say is, I think there’s three particularly relevant aspects of fragility that bear on drought, conflict and humanitarian emergencies. I think one is that fragile states tend to lack institutional capacity. They have weak court systems, for example, weak justice and accountability mechanisms, to prevent or resolve conflicts over water resources. They lack institutional capacity to mitigate the impact of rainfall variability on agricultural production, for example, by building water capture facilities, and they lack the ability to promote economic diversification more broadly, and so remain heavily dependent on agriculture. Their communities are, as a result, particularly vulnerable to changes in climate and rainfall variation.
I think a second dynamic in fragile states is that once conflict breaks out, the fighting and insecurity often depletes and diverts resources, and makes these states even more vulnerable to emergencies. It impedes agricultural production, again, as well as access to markets and trade. Violence destroys physical infrastructure … as our previous speakers noted … and public services, exacerbating drought and food insecurity.
And then I think a third dynamic is that as both conflict and impunity deepen … because a lot of the crises that we’re seeing today are unprecedented in their severity, to some extent … as impunity deepens and democratic checks and balances erode, what we’re seeing in these emergencies is the parties to the conflict tend to resort to more and more desperate and divisive tactics that also worsen drought and humanitarian conditions. So for example, both parties to conflicts and, too often, governments, are deliberately targeting civilians.
Sometimes that predatory behavior even means seizing on poor humanitarian conditions as a tactic to achieve military advantage. In Somalia, for example, we’ve seen al-Shabaab cut off city’s water points as a way to intimidate and maintain a hold over the population. I think a recent study by one of my colleagues at the US Institute of Peace found that after the onset of drought, the number of deadly attacks against civilians in conflicts rose by 41%. The interpretation of the author is that that’s likely as a result of the fact that the context of depleted resources, in that context insurgents become more desperate to coerce communities in order to achieve their goals. And as part of the same dynamic of impunity and poor government, governments were also seeing the parties to the conflict target the delivery, the very delivery, of aid, which is further impeding the response.
So, I think in all three of those ways at least, fragility, drought and humanitarian emergencies are intricately linked, and I think most importantly, what that means is it has strong implications for the policy response. I wanna start with at least two. I’m sure there are others, and maybe we can talk about those. But one is, the donors really need to come to terms with the reality that the ultimate solution to preventing these four countries in particular, the famine affected countries, from slipping into famine, lies in resolving the conflicts that underlie them. That means that in addition to fully funding the global humanitarian response for these countries, various diplomatic efforts are needed to end the four conflicts, or the emergencies are likely to continue.
I think a second important policy implication, given the projections that climate change will increase, in particular, is that both humanitarian and development funding must be leveraged to tackle the recurrent nature of these crises, particularly in the Horn and the Sahel. Countries like Kenya have put resilience strategies in place to increase the capacity of households, communities and local and national institutions to recover from shock, and on the donor side, various EU and UN programs now support these efforts.
Aid agencies are developing policy guidance to mainstream resilience across their programs, but I think a more concerted push will be needed by donors in vulnerable developing countries to build resilience. The international community has the models and the data necessary to really anticipate the next emergency, and so the challenge really is translating that agenda into preventative action. USAID recently one limited study, but it suggested that for every dollar spent on resilience programs, almost $3 in humanitarian assistance needs can be saved, and I think that’s probably quite an understatement.
So what’s clear is that in addition to being the right thing to do to prevent these massive humanitarian emergencies, investing in prevention, and preventing conflict and conflict recurrence, as well as drought emergencies, is really the smart thing to do. So I’ll stop there, and look forward to the discussion.
Geoff Debelko: Well, thank you very much, Corinne. Excellent intervention, with a number of points. First and foremost, although it seems a simple point, when these issues are often looked at, say, water and conflict, it becomes a very reductionist and often over-simplified discussion. And so your putting them in the context of the economic, political and social intuitions that mitigate, moderate, exacerbate those links, I think is critically important. Particularly, as you say, when you start translating it to, “What do you do about those complex interconnections?” So, thank you for doing that.
Second, I think it’s notable that you focused in very specific terms on how the conflict is exacerbating the water problems and associated famine and drought, where again, many of these conversations look at the reverse causality in terms of the water scarcity causing the conflict. But your point illustrates how those are interactive and those arrows go both directions, and we must take both seriously to do it.
And then finally, some very practical advice on anticipation, rather than reaction, and even the cost savings that can come with that, with investing in resilience. As somebody who has worked these issues from the perspective of the National Security Council at the White House, and USAID, and the permanent mission to UN, what has been your experience in finding ways practically to bring these different issues together, to get out of our stovepipes and to work across these issues in an anticipatory fashion?
Corinne: I think your point about anticipating, and what we know about where these crises are likely to happen and to recur, is a really important one. I think when you look at the history of the international response and international cooperation around climate change, really when scientific consensus becomes solid enough, that can really become an impetus to spur action. So I think really the challenge is, and the challenge that I faced in government, was taking all that information. We have very good climate data at this point. We have good data on food and security, but also have quite good data just on the outbreak of violence and conflict.
So putting all three of those datasets together, I think there’s a real moment of opportunity to do more at the kind of higher strategic levels. I think what’s happening now in government, in my experience, is a lot of that information is getting used at a technical level. So in program design, in program evaluations, within agencies, even, but it’s not yet being used sufficiently to drive policy and strategy. And so I think the challenge is figuring out how to inject, really, all of that great data … even though, admittedly, we have lots of data about developing countries and poor countries, there really are some amazing global datasets … and using that to spur action at the policy level.
I was involved in one effort in the US government in the inter-agency process to spur a whole of government action at the [NSC 00:09:41], which was really a policy planning process, but there are many practical challenges, unfortunately, as you can imagine, to translating that kind of data into action. Bureaucratic challenges, budgetary challenges. So I think that is where the energy needs to focus going forward. Less so on building the databases, although the more usable the data, of course, the better, and more on the policy side, and how do we inject that into policy process?
Geoff Debelko: Terrific. One of the topics in our list of topics here for this breakout is talking about migration in connection to conflict and water issues, drought and famine. What has been your experience in the role of migration in its various manifestations, positive, negative or otherwise?
Corinne: Setting aside the political dimensions of that question and that problem, I think one of the most important aspects of the migration crisis today is that while there are political issues with migration and out migration to Western and Northern countries, the real practical and operational challenge, and frankly, the real burden of refugees in particular, is figuring out how … and it is on other developing countries in the regions where these crises are happening. That’s where the large majority of migrants have settled. And so these are countries that are already fragile.
I’m thinking of Uganda, for example, right now, which neighbors on South Sudan and has received over one million South Sudanese refugees now. And Uganda already had a number of challenges on its agenda that it was coping with, so this is one additional challenge that is really quite entrenched and a difficult one. And one that it’s not clear that donors are sufficiently focusing [inaudible 00:12:13] because they’re quite focused on the implications of the refugee movements into northern countries.
So that’s one challenge that’s directly related to these crises, and I think another is the fact that a lot of the displaced people, whether inside their countries or outside their borders, are becoming displaced for longer and longer periods of time. And so one challenge that we’ve been grappling with at the highest levels for the past few years in the United States is how do we address refugees and refugee crises that are protracted and that have really become settlements? What kind of assistance do they need? Obviously, the World Bank is quite focused on that in the Middle East, but it requires kind of a new outlook. The World Humanitarian Summit and the Refugee Summit last year and the year before tried to address those difficult questions, but I don’t think that we have all the answers yet.
Geoff Debelko: Okay, terrific. We have a couple of questions from some of our listeners. They’re interested in understanding what organization, what partners, what are the best vehicles for the kind of programs developing resilience strategies, that you mentioned in Kenya as a positive example? Where do you see leadership coming from? Where should people look to for assistance and partnership to build that resilience?
Corinne: I think there are discrete initiatives, but that are gaining ground and that are significant and interesting in terms of potentially scaling up. There is some new EU funding, five year funding, for the Sahel and the Horn. And there’s also been funding from USAID. As far as USAID, the resilience in the Sahel initiative, which in FY, that’s actually over now, but that was a $336 million program to build resilience in the Sahel through all sorts of different programs, from using our agricultural funding to youth programming to democracy in governance programs, and injecting a resilience lens across those programs. USAID has created a center for resilience now, that’s responsible for streamlining resilience across programs in relevant regions. It needs to be scaled up still, but it’s doing very good work. That’s one example.
I find the private/public partnership model of the Global Resilience Partnership, which is a USAID, Sweden, and Rockefeller Foundation project, to be really, really interesting, because it’s very focused on innovation. I think this is an area where we really don’t have the time to kind of turn around aid bureaucracies to address the problem, and so to the extent that we can bring in creative thinkers, outside the box thinking, in the private sector and philanthropy together to address this problem, I think that’s a really helpful example. That was a little bit less funding, but it was really set up as kind of a challenge, a development challenge institution, and so it’s focused on innovation, and identifying approaches and strategies in the Sahel, the Horn and Nepal, that can then be scaled up. So I like that model, as well. I think those are a couple of examples.
Geoff Debelko: Well, examples are something that a number of our listeners are interested in doing. You provided some positive ones. Are there some areas where you really see things not to emulate? Probably there are plenty of those examples, but as a way to focus on the do’s as well as the don’ts, are there some other cases that you’ve found particularly compelling for any particular reason?
Corinne: I think the don’ts really are the humanitarian investments that are not at all focused or attuned to resilience at this point. I think everywhere we have massive investments in humanitarian responses, we have a responsibility to think about how we’re building up capacity in places like Kenya. We’re doing that better in places like Kenya. Of course, it’s harder in countries where there’s very little state capacity, like Somalia.
I think, not exactly answering your question, but there are challenges to expanding the resilience agenda, and one of them is … and I’d be interested to know your views as well, on this … but that development agencies and governments are establishing a number of new lenses to streamline across their activities. The resilience to shocks and conflicts in order to safeguard development gains is one of them. But there’s a climate resilience lens that’s also being applied, was streamlined across the US government in the last administration. There are countering violent extremism lenses that are increasingly being applied and called for. There are conflict lenses, and I think one challenge, operationally … again, I’m practically speaking … is …. and that’s why I think this conversation is really important … is how do you reconcile all of those lenses? There [crosstalk 00:18:36]
Geoff Debelko: Oh. Thank you [crosstalk 00:18:52]
Corinne: So just to wrap up, Geoff. So I think they’re related, but the challenge is how to they connect? How do we bring them together?
Geoff Debelko: I think your first intervention, about how connected these things are on the ground, dictates that we do get out of our boxes and silos, and find ways to reconcile them. I do think, at least deductively, something that builds climate resilience also should be addressing poverty and providing resilience in the face of conflict, whether it’s prevention or in the post conflict setting. The challenge is doing that.
I think in some ways it requires all of us to not insist on our favorite lens, literally, being listed first or being dominant, and understanding that they are inherently interconnected. And finding some of those common tools that we are using across those lenses, say, the institutional strengthening that you pointed out as necessary but lacking in fragile states, as things that … I’ll say from, for example, by climate lens … are absolutely advancing the necessary areas, but it just may not be a traditional climate intervention. We have to move beyond and add more tools to the toolbox, and see those as appropriate.
Corinne: Yeah. I agree.
Roger-Mark De Souza: Hello everyone. This is Roger-Mark De Souza. I’m really thrilled to have this conversation with Ramon today. Ramon, thank you very much for those opening remarks. I think it was an excellent introduction for us to begin thinking about the current context for Yemen. One question that occurred to me … I very much appreciated that you started by mentioning two decades ago where Yemen was. You mentioned predominantly rural, very poor, questions of population growth and towards the end you fast forward to today and essentially this is the same place. You said once again it’s still very poor, questions on war, having to deal with population dynamics and you mentioned cholera and health. What has changed in that time period and do you see an acceleration of trends? What’s your overall picture of what has happened in the time frame that you have been working in Yemen?
Ramon Scoble: Thank you, Roger-Mark. Certainly change has been there. Yemen in the 1970s, well before I went to Yemen, was effectively in the Stone Age in the north of the country. I have a number of colleagues who worked there in the late ’60s and 1970s, almost no development by modern standards. At the same time in the south, you had a transition into the Socialist government that was in power from 1970 to 1990 after the British had been in southern Yemen for over 100 years. The difference was stark. You had the British with the very well-developed capital and some governance out into the hinterlands. The Socialists took that and developed it even further, so that by the turn of 1990, as Yemen began to reunify, you had a very basic level of development to the north, much, much higher level in the south and the difficulties, of course, of bringing those two things together.
So the change has been certainly that northward spread of modernism in a Yemeni sense and that has accelerated certainly in the decade from 1999 when I first arrived to 2000. It was just amazing to see how quickly new things were coming into the northern provinces of Sadah, Amran, and into the capitol at Sanaa. Now those accelerating trends were very visible in things like mobile phones, access to modern technology for water infrastructure, but much, much slower in terms of water policy. Now, the governance of the country had moved to Sanaa and there was quite a strong backlash over that first decade, ’90 through ’99, against this northern control of the country. And I think that certainly hampered policy in that decade. Then the decade from 2000 to 2010 saw, well let’s call a bit more of a [inaudible 00:03:24] between sort of what were the national level people prepared to work together to develop and cooperate in water resource issues.
Roger-Mark: So also Ramon I was intrigued in your introductory comments that you alluded to this modernism and the development of technology overall, even if there was a slow progress in terms of water policy and you referred to this as the race to the bottom of the aquifers. Could you talk a little bit more about that and what has been the impact today as a result of this race?
Ramon: Certainly. This idea is something that’s often missed in European or North American seatings particularly where we have vast and expansive water resources underground. So you would have a large well field supplying a major city, which hydraulically was connected to a well field in another nearby city, but the overall resource was so large that neither city was making an impact on it.
In Yemen, however, particularly in the highlands, many of the water resources are very small in terms of overall size and scope, constrained both vertically and horizontally, and so quite limited. And once they began to be tapped, you could imagine that there’s a glass of water, if you start with a straw near the top, very easy to get water, but eventually the straw runs dry. Over a short period you have to start pushing that straw further and further down to get water. So the race to the bottom of the aquifer is that if you have two adjacent farmers, one drills his well to 200 meters, and the other’s is only 150, one will run out of water. He then calls in the driller who comes back over the well, drills to 300 and you’ll see effectively in some very small areas less than a few kilometers across, you’ll see three or four landowners race to get that last drop.
Roger-Mark: So one of our colleagues listening to our conversation right now, Ramon, is asking and he or she states that Yemen is one of the few Middle Eastern countries with rain fed agriculture at least in many places. How is climate change including rising temperatures feeding into water scarcity? What are your thoughts?
Ramon: Certainly, the colleague is indeed correct. The western highlands of Yemen, many of the mountains in the 2,000 to 3,600 meter range including the highest peak in the entire Arabian peninsula, do catch the monsoon rains and in the area around the southern provinces of Ib and Taez, during the three months of the rainy season, it’s as green as Malaysia and rain fed agriculture is amazing. However, for the other nine months of the year, reliance is completely upon what remains of soil moisture after the spring flow.
Now climate changing, which can effect, certainly has an impact if you’re in a relatively flat country. So if we were to take a country or flat agricultural area, if the temperature was to rise two degrees, we would change the growing degree day environment for many plants and some plants could not grow in that environment if the temperature was to rise. However, where you have a vertical change, you’ll find a vertical stratification of cropping. So in Yemen on the same day that you eat a mango down on the coast or a banana, you can drive four hours up into the highlands and eat an apricot or grapes, which is a fantastic thing if you like all those lush fruit.
Ramon: So of course, their horizontally integrated agricultural system would be driven to a northern more or southern more latitude depending on which hemisphere you’re in. In Yemen, there are certainly micro -climates vertically because of the ruggedness of the mountains in some places that are visible. You can actually see where coffee beans or coffee trees begin to grow at around 600 meters altitude and where they phase out again at between 1,800 and 2,200 meters. So Yemen, to be honest, would have an advantage in that only a few crops that are current in the country are likely to be significantly displaced and they would be those that are already at the uppermost altitudes and for that, that would include some grains including barley and possibly even some of the khat trees, one of the endemic plants in Yemen.
Roger-Mark: Ramon, one of the things that you had mentioned earlier was sort of traditional approaches to water conservation. You talk about work at the community level and one of our colleagues is wondering about how successful are the traditional methods of rainwater harvesting and do these techniques have the potential to be adapted to increase availability of drinking water or water for other domestic uses? So thinking of traditional methods of rainwater harvesting and can this allow for greater availability of water?
Ramon: Certainly, Roger-Mark. This is something that I have a personal interest in having both worked as an advisor to the German Technical Group in Yemen for a number of years and also on a number of private projects. Yemen has a very long history across most of that western highland area of rainwater harvesting, capturing water across entire hillsides, channeling it to some form of cistern or water collection area and then utilizing that predominately for let’s call it urban or municipal use. This can range from something as small as a single household roof catcher into a one or two cubic meter tank to as a large as, the largest one I’ve seen is a cistern in excess of 130 meters across, 10 meters deep, which captures one or two rainfall events a year and provides drinking water annually for 3,000 people in a single community. So, Yemen has a history. They certainly have the technology with a range suitable for many different rainfall environments and the desire to improve on these systems.
So from 2005 through 2008, I was involved in a project in the north of the country where we were funding rehabilitation of existing systems, developing new ones where we could show from an engineering perspective that the site or the location was suitable for this and increasing the capacity of local communities to do the assessment and the development themselves.
Roger-Mark: First off, so as they build on these opportunities and the local capacity to look at the assessment, I wanted to build on that and think about as is a better understanding at a local and community level of the status of water and scarcity. And you mentioned earlier the questions around technology and in different aquifers and the impact on the joining aquifers, it seems to me that some of that may lead to conflict. I wonder whether you could talk a little bit about water dispute mechanisms, how those have developed and what are some of the socioeconomic impact that you see of conflicts arising through water?
Ramon: Okay, certainly. Well, let me speak to the first one, dispute mechanisms. I think there would probably be three categories of water sources in Yemen and this is a very general kind of concept. First would be those where you had one source, one user. By that I mean, you would have a single community has access to a single cistern or a single spring or some other single rainwater or other catcher device.
In those instances as I alluded in my opening remarks, often you’re dealing with a single community in which there is an existing power structure. Many rural communities are based in a familial sense that they will be an extended family or extended families and there is very commonly on Friday, which is the Muslim day of prayer, there would often be a communal gathering of the men that would be those the decision makers of the community and resolution of water issues would be held at that venue. And I’ve sat in a number of those events with my limited ability in Arabic and heard both sides of the arguments of why a certain individual requires more water for a use or less or other issues. So one user, one source.
The next area would be those with few users, few sources. That would be perhaps two or three communities that have access to a rainwater collection system, which is operative or collects sufficient water for part of the year, but not sufficient for the whole year and then the remainder of the year, other sources including tankering of water are used. In those, the dispute mechanisms tend not to be around the rainwater collection system because that’s a fixed duration and they’ll be some fixed mechanism very much as in the one user, one source model. There would be, let’s say, three communities, three village communities that have their representative. Those three would sit together and work through the issues over the period of three to six months while the water is available. However, as soon as the water runs out the communities then are in conflict not an obvious stance, but they’re challenging one another for any other remaining sources in the area that have not been communally agreed.
Now at that point … It’s during there, but it has happened where this will devolve into significant disputes where sometimes a community will opt for their own sake not to use a water source to minimize conflict and that will be something that’s often agreed sometimes even written into a tribal agreement or an agreement that is mediated by an over arching tribal leader so that one group will say, we will not use the source. Or in the rare cases where this is actually devolves and the communities cannot come to an agreement, and there are a couple of instances where very protracted in the sense of decades long conflicts have occurred over single water sources that are used outside of the agreed ones, and one particular one in the city of Taiz. In the mountain behind Taiz, there was a spring two communities came to lows over this and traded gunfire for a period of days to the point that the government had to come in with heavy artillery and effectively fire warning shots to both communities to get them to come into line.
So that would bring me to the third area, which is really where you have multiple users and a single source. So not just a few users and a few sources, but multiple users and a single source and that’s probably where the conflicts become more complex as they do in cities around the world. The issues are not things that are dealt with or you can leverage on familial obligations because the parties, the players don’t necessarily have a relationship. So that would be anything from small communities up to the major cities where the water is supplied probably through a governmental or semi-governmental organization and for them to access the water supply, the water reservoir or the rainwater harvesting system, the government needs to appropriate land and the supply and then supply the water often away from a rural seating into an urban one and then conflict occurs rural to urban, haves to have-nots and that certainly has occurred with that amazing shift of people into the cities in the decade from 2000 to 2010.
Roger-Mark: And what about some of the impacts that you have with ways that people have dealt with water? People’s relationship to water, have you seen some destruction of infrastructure, you mentioned earlier health concerns, are there examples where cooperative solutions have emerged?
Ramon: Certainly. Well, I think the most visible one immediately if we were to look at current news is this cholera epidemic in Yemen, which the highest number of cases in the shortest period of time in the history of records regarding cholera. Predominantly Yemen doesn’t have a highly developed wastewater or sewage networking anywhere. Even in the major cities, not all of the city is serviced and some health advisors have previously wondered how it has been that such a thing as a cholera or similar diarrheal illness epidemic hasn’t occurred previously in Yemen. I think part of the reason for that has been there has been just enough water for people to keep themselves and their community clean enough to minimize those outbreaks. However, the conflict over the last two years, which has overtaken the whole country and only very small areas around a couple of southern cities and one in the north are free of this where they have more availability, but in those areas where-
Ramon: So in that case what you see is that these communities that were at the just enough water to have some preventative measure against disease have fallen just below that threshold and of course it was a large percentage of the country. That’s why the outbreak was so large.
The other issue you mentioned, the destruction of infrastructure, I think it hasn’t gone to the level of war looting, but in some locations, infrastructure which can no longer be productive for water supply has been demolished, not destroyed, but demolished. People have gone and taken equipment that they feel may be useful at some future time.
Roger-Mark: And as we wrap up, is there anything that you know now that you wish you knew 20 years ago with regard to water scarcity in Yemen?
Ramon: I wish I’d been able to see it in the 1970s and not the 1990s. The biggest issue, certainly in Yemen has been a population, which is effectively doubled every 15 years in the last 60 years. The amazing effects of population growth and how that affects water availability on a per person basis.
J. Carl Ganter: It was absolutely fascinating, listening to all the conversations and comments. One of the really secrets here is, I have a magic button so I can jump into all the sessions for a few minutes, and just was surfing really rich conversations. If anybody had joined us part way through, we’re talking about the value of water, particularly in context of conflict as well as peace making, and new tools and the outside pressures of climate change and social structures.
As our opening guest mentioned, there’s a larger conversation underway, around the value of water. And you can read more on the value of water and intersections, also with sustainable development goals, and a lot of the issues we’re talking about here today, from the high level panel on high water initiatives. You can learn more about this at sustainabledevelopment.un.org. A good spot to go, sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hlpwater, or just look for high level panel on water and you can have your input there as well. I also encourage our listeners to learn more about the sustainable development goals, particularly with the U.N. General Assembly Week coming up in the middle of September, and the systems and intersections of water, which is goal number six for those of you, the “water buffaloes”. Everybody knows that water is goal number six.
Now we’ll hear the highlights from our discussion leaders and then go back to a bigger group discussion for overall perspective. So let’s start with my colleague Brett Walton, Senior Reporter at Circle of Blue. Tell us a little bit about what happened in your group.
Brett Walton: Thanks Carl. We had a lot to talk about. The government of Kenya is committed to ending national drought emergencies by 2022. So Sunya and I talked about what does that mean to end national drought emergencies? And he said that the key for his authority is that they have a drought early warning system, and that allows them with boots on the ground, field reporting, to collect data on water supplies, on health, on livestock, or range lands and to be able to target assistance to the communities that are most in need. Their mandate covers the entire country, but they’re focused mostly on the arid and semi-arid lands. Right now that is largely in Northern Kenya where the drought this year has been most severe, but within the National Drought Authority.
And then with a myriad number of partners both within the country from the local county level governments to international partners, such as U.N. Development Program, World Student Program. There’s a number of programs within Kenya to try and cut down the amount of violence and conflict and misery that comes from drought and water scarcity.
Do we see that the lack of water changes the value of other things. The value of education? A lot of people don’t go to school during drought because they have to move with the herds. So Kenya is instituting a cash transfer program to send direct money deposits into bank accounts for people to be able to use for food, or health, or education, whatever they need most at that time. And that’s all linked to that early warning drought system that they have in place.
Other programs are cash transfers for livestock, and then arms reduction program to try and get the guns out of the equation. So really, all sorts of values are in play here in Kenya, trying to respond to these major drought emergencies.
J. Carl Ganter: Wow, what a dynamic conversation. And a whole new way of looking at the value of water. Reaching all the way through education and shepherds. Really fascinating. And in group two, equally so, was Corrine Graff in discussion with Geoff Dabelko, of Ohio University. Geoff, it’s really great to hear your voice, and to have heard a bit of the conversation there. Give us a sense of what happened in your group.
Geoff Dabelko: Thanks Carl. Thanks so much. We really got through a lot of material. Corrine had some specific insights on for example, aspects of fragility so critical to the water drought conflict linkages. Talking about, really the lack of institutional capacity and mechanisms to resolve conflict and to mitigate drought impacts in these places. That the conflicts themselves divert resources, so it really impedes access to trade. Agricultural production destroys infrastructure, so it makes it harder to respond to these stresses. And then as the conflict deepens, and democratic checks and balances erode, the parties often resort to more desperate tactics that are often targeting the civilians who are trying to deal with the underlying drought and water conditions. It has strong implications for policy makers. Donors really need to come to terms with the reality that famine affected countries really have to address the conflict as a way to address the famine. Otherwise, we’re really just treating the symptoms. And that that humanitarian aid, while it is immediate and needed to save lives today, really must be leveraged to put in resilient strategies to deal with these problems more systematically. Help them recover from shocks and mainstreaming that resilience across humanitarian response. In that sense, Carl, for anticipation versus reaction. And that investment will actually be cheaper in the long run.
Integrating data across getting the high level folks to understand and make policy based on how these different issue areas that often are often treated separately, come together. That’s being done on the ground, and in some of the technical levels, but not yet enough at the higher levels. And then we had an opportunity to hear about some specific ways that that’s succeeding. But finally, to end the challenges, we are seeing evidence of people applying new lenses to look across these issues, yet they still have their particular areas of focus that aren’t necessarily integrated enough. That is conflict, that is climate change, that is countering violent extremism, and that we see some opportunities for those lenses and the necessity of those lenses to come together and collaborate, rather than working in isolation and at times, at odds with one another.
J. Carl Ganter: Wow, another terrific group. Really dynamic and timely, with a huge level of urgency. Geoff Dabelko, thanks for reporting from group number two. And finally in group number three, Ramon Scoble is paired with Robert-Mark De Souza of the Wilson Center. Roger-Mark, what emerged in your conversations?
Roger-Mark: Thank you very much, Carl. I think we had a very engaging conversation around three broad areas. The first focus on trends. What are we seeing in Yemen? What has the pace and rate of change been? We talked about the spread of modernism for the society overall and that they were accelerating trends, in regards to technology and mobile phones, but slower progress in terms of water policy. As part of looking at the trends in technology, we talked about this race to the bottom of aquifers and what that meant in terms of a potential for conflict. And we also examined ways that climate change was having an impact, with regards to political stratification of agriculture, and what that meant for water resources.
Second, we examined conflict dynamics. And we deconstructed various types of dispute resolution mechanisms. Looking at one source one user, few users few sources, multiple users and multiple sources and what that may mean in terms of conflict being more complex. And what does that mean in terms of rural and urban dynamics and this move of the haves to the have-nots, and what that means ultimately.
And finally, we talked a little bit about what are the implications of these upper policies or programs and those solutions. We touched on questions around the health impact. We discussed the cholera epidemic and how it had been dealt with. And in those areas where there were more water resources, they were able to implement solutions. We talked about infrastructure, that there was not so much war looting, but that there was a demolished infrastructure, and the necessity of thinking about population dynamics. Quite significant popular growth and this was in an area that’s tied very specifically to looking at the impact on water and people’s well being. So an engaged and dynamic conversation.
J. Carl Ganter: Thank you, Roger-Mark. I really appreciated those insights. Again, all these conversations are absolutely terrific, and really important and timely. In just a moment we are going to bring everyone back together in full group conversation, so we have a chance to ask questions across groups. And we’ll be taking more questions from you, both through the screen and live. So you’ll be able to raise your hand. You’ll hear more about that in a second. If you do have a question, you’ll be able to raise your hand using your phone keypad, as we mentioned. And your MaestroConference interface on your screen, or continue to use your document on your screen to type your question.
But before the group discussion, we want to introduce one more special guest. And that, sitting to my immediate left is, Maitreyi Das, and she has joined us here in Stockholm. She’s the World Bank’s Global Leader for Social Inclusion, and author of a report published earlier today, on water and gender, called Rising Tide. You’ve been listening to the conversations. Thanks for joining us. How does gender relate to the value of water, particularly in an era where we do have so many water stresses?
Maitreyi Das : Thank you so much, Carl. It’s a great pleasure to be here, and to have heard some of the discussion earlier. The new report, The Rising Tide, actually lays out what we call a thinking device, to think about the relationship between water and gender, which at the best of times is very complex. But in cases where there is water stress, it becomes even more complex. Not only is the relationship complex, the relationship is also sometimes quite unexpected. One of the things that we bring out in the report is that not all women are disadvantaged, nor all men privileged. It is really the overlay of disadvantage that arises from a status-like race or class, or caste, or location, or sexual identity, or a myriad of social identity markers that make certain groups more vulnerable than others and really being able to understand, these complexities will give us a much better sense of who is most likely to be left behind, or left out, especially in times of scarcity, when resources are scarce. And when the people with the least power are the ones that are likely to be the ones least likely to get the benefits.
So that’s sort of the overarching theme of the idea of how gender and water intersect. But there’s are two other points that are really important for the discussion of the values of water. One is that water quite often mirrors social inequalities that exist elsewhere in society. They play out in the domain of water. So, that’s one big issue. The second issue is that water has got significant non-economic and non-monetary values. These could be spiritual, cultural, political. They could arise from, for instance, an indigenous community considering a river to be so sacred that it is like the mother. And so any perceived onslaught on that river is taken extremely negatively by a community that values that river quite differently from somebody that doesn’t belong to that indigenous community.
And these are deeply gendered norms and practices. These non-economic and these spiritual, emotional values of water are deeply, deeply gendered, where women and men, males and females have got different roles and responsibilities, with respect to the way in which they engage with the water body.
Just to give a very quick example, the concept of the Holy water exists in every single religion. There is no religion where the concept of Holy water does not exist. And certain waters are holy, but then certain waters are polluting. So for instance, waters or liquids arising from bodily waste are universally considered to be polluting. And there are cultures would consider them more polluting or less polluting. But regardless of the fact of the degree of pollution, the fact is that these norms and practices, to a very large extent, affect the behaviors of individuals in groups. Particularly of the context of the way in which they relate to gender, and the way in which they relate to hierarchies. These get intensified when the resources are scarce. These get intensified at times when people believe that they have something to hold on to, or not have something to hold on to.
J. Carl Ganter: Great. Thank you so much Maitreyi, I appreciate that perfectly timed input. And really, to tie all our threads together, we’re going to bring our panelists, moderators, and our listeners all together. It’s a dexterous feat of magical mouse clicking by our team at MaestroConference. So hold on for just a minute, and I hope you raise your hand if you have any questions, we’ll be able to take those live.
Let me just ask Geoff Dabelko. Geoff, we’ve worked together almost 15 years now, believe it or not. I want to hear from you briefly, how you’ve heard this conversation change. We started talking about just really just water. What’s changing here in the conversations you’ve heard here today? What you’re hearing from your students, over this interesting, interesting decade.
Geoff Dabelko: Thanks Carl. I think a couple things. [inaudible 00:49:34] breakout in particular. I think that it’s notable that the entire conversation isn’t about how water scarcity causes conflict. It’s a much more, and always has been a much more complex discussion. But the bumper sticker versions ruled the day, for a long time, and in some corners still do. But our conversation was much more nuance, much more dynamic, with both how conflict makes it much harder to adapt to water stresses, drought, and in some cases, addressing famine. So the causal arrows go both ways.
And then what I think is also new is that recognition is increasingly but not yet sufficiently integrated into responses. So we had a discussion about how resilience needs to be a part of even the immediate humanitarian responses. So that a cross sectors, economic, political, social, environmental, that a process of trying to lessen the next one, because there will be a next one. Whether that has conflict, or whether that or their connections to water with extreme events and such, that we start working across our silos and break out of those, and understand that that is the only way that we are gonna really effectively respond to these complex interconnections.
J. Carl Ganter: Great. Thank you, Geoff Dabelko, formerly of the Wilson Center, and your colleague also Roger-Mark De Souza. Roger just also quickly, now that you’ve heard the report outs. Anything that’s changed in your mind, over the last few years, working on environmental change and security programs?
Roger-Mark: Thank you very much. I would build on Geoff’s comment, I think that there is more sophisticated awareness of the need to deconstruct different parts of influence that fit into the different dynamics. So more and more we see those in the policy and programmatic space, looking at the social, the societal context. The context of the environment and ecologist relates to water. The effect on human systems. What a human response is, and what are the feedback mechanisms that we see present. And I would also say increasingly there is a recognition of paying attention to social dynamics. Questions around gender and population growth are also gaining, increasing salience and recognition.
J. Carl Ganter: Great. Thank you Roger-Mark. Maitreyi, again, the changes that you felt that you’ve seen after listening to the report outs. And just again, the bigger perspective. What kind of changes have you seen, and what do we expect to be coming out of, the sustainable development goals week? The U.N. General Assembly Week coming up in New York, week of September 18th.
And before you answer, I want to remind our audience, raise your hand. Press one on your phone, or your social webinar button, and we can call on you and take your questions live. So, please go ahead and do that, and we’ll be able to take your questions.
Maitreyi Das : I’m actually really glad to hear about this more nuanced idea of the relationship between conflict and scarcity. I mean, I’m a demographer, and so to me, it’s really a question of scarcity really intensifies all kinds of exclusions and inequalities that already exist in society. And the manner in which individuals and groups can lay claim to the resources that perhaps were scarce to start with, but become even scarcer during times of drought, for instance. And that’s the point at which, it’s not just the way water is valued, but the way in which resources broadly are valued. And natural resources broadly are valued. And who has a voice over them, or who has control over them, and who doesn’t.
So the power relations that kind of shift a bit during times of conflict, become extremely salient in the manner in which people respond to them. The idea of power, the idea of a much more nuanced understanding of the dynamic between scarcity and conflict, I think is going to be extremely important.
Let me a very quick take there on the idea of population growth, I’m not sure it is necessarily, I mean across the board, except for nine countries in the world, fertility is on a downward incline. And so fertility decline has commenced. It is already in most countries quite far along. There are some countries, which are fairly early in the demographic transition, but regardless, the transition exists, has begun everywhere. Except, as I’ve said, about nine or 10 countries, and those countries do tend to be countries that have very weak institutions. But that’s a separate conversation. So I think that that blanket lumping together of population growth, conflict, scarcity, I think is not a useful construct.
J. Carl Ganter: So, Brett Walton, we’re having quite a conversation here, and you’ve covered this for a long time. What are some of the questions that have been coming over to your [inaudible 00:55:25]? Either through the call here now, or overall. What are some of the big pieces you’re looking at on Circle of Blue, and putting this is in continued context?
Brett Walton: Right. Well, one of the questions that we had coming in before the call here is, the connection between local dynamics and global, and how some of these local conflicts have their roots in transnational dynamics. And with the speakers who want to address this, climate change is a big one, where it has an international driver, but it’s reflected in local circumstances. So I guess the question here is how can you one, build resilience in local communities in the face of things that need a global response often?
J. Carl Ganter: And you’re tossing that out to the group.
Brett Walton: I’m tossing that to the group.
J. Carl Ganter: Who’d like to take that?
Brett Walton: So, Ramon, I think would be a good candidate to answer this, having worked in Yemen with local groups for quite a while. So how do you see these dynamics playing out? How do you solve this at the local level?
Ramon Scoble: Thank you so much, Brett. I do think that at the local level you really do have an advantage that you can get most of the clients to sit down around a table. In a relatively low education setting like Yemen, the very first part will be actually teaching people just about water. What it is, what their part is in the larger water cycle. The water management cycle. How that water cycle impacts upon the social, or ecology of their community. And I can almost say that, with almost two decades experience in Yemen, it’s been pretty rare at a community level, that we haven’t been able to get people to come on board, understand what the issues are, and at least resolve a specific direction to work in. That’s been a lot more difficult to deal with when we’ve been looking at multiple jurisdictions, multiple communities. And as I mentioned in our breakout, when you look at multiple uses for multiple sources, it’s no different to dealing with those same issues in a much more developed country. Hard to get everyone to the table. Hard to get agreement.
Brett Walton: You say it’s very easy when you’re dealing with people who can all come to the same room and share the same community. Does that scale? And how can we transfer that to some of these broader questions about value and conflict?
Ramon Scoble: Well I think the key way to get things to scale is really to find people who are genuinely representative. Like they are the genuine representative for the group. You know, if it’s two individuals dealing with a single law, you can sit the two down together. If it’s two large extended families with a couple of under people each, you simply don’t have many venues, so they’re gonna come with five hundred people you really need to find people who are empowered by their groups, to speak on their behalf and to negotiate solutions. And I think that’s what international diplomacy is, it’s when you do that with a billion people in one country and a billion in another, and you’re talking about shared water resources.
Brett Walton: One of the questions that’s coming into the group discussion document here asks about water issues in wealthier countries. And we’re seeing this today in Houston, in the United States. Someone asked me before this call, I cover a lot of water topics, what challenges and solutions do I see? Even in the U.S., in other countries too, where water infrastructure management has been ingrained and embedded within culture and society, that we’ve ignored it. It’s basically worked so well in the past that we didn’t have to think about it. And some of the past dependencies. You know, Houston is having a lot of hard scape and now having water that can’t really go anywhere. Those types of questions for rich countries, are coming to the fore just the same as they are for any country across the world. There’s the recognition that water has been taken for granted in the past. And that’s no longer how things have to operate.
The question of taking water for granted, is that something that say, Sunya in Kenya, that people are coming around to? Do you see people changing their relationship to water in these droughts?
Sunya Orre: Yeah, basically water is one of the key[inaudible 01:00:33]. And at the community level they are focused and I am sure that I am looking at one of their graphs at the moment [inaudible 01:01:00]. For example the Green [inaudible 01:01:43].
Brett Walton: Right. We talked on our break I believe, about the cash transfers that are going on in Kenya. There’s also another question coming through the shared document that I think connects this local and global question. The question here in the document is that developed countries enjoy water rights. Its legal institutions that’s forced arrangements to manage water. So really strong value on the relationships and the legal contracts. This question goes to Corrine, who’s worked in several countries throughout Africa, on some of these questions. So it’s a question of the value of legal rights and institutions and how do we establish those types of responses in countries that might not have them. Is there the ability to transfer ideas about these values, from country to country?
Corrine Graff: I think that’s a critical question in light of the link to fragility, more broadly. Its important both as a conflict resolution mechanism, as well as for better management of water resources. Every context is different. In many countries they’re actually informal systems that are in place, that are working. They often can be exploited by conflict parties, which is another whole dynamic and issue, but they need to be built on by national governments who are struggling to build up their institutional framework, their legal frameworks, and property rights frameworks. But yes, I think that’s a critical element of the resilience agenda. Not the state building because that’s a little bit of an overblown term, but building resiliency in countries that are affected by the twin challenges of conflict and drought. Although, of course, every context is different.
Brett Walton: Right. And we talked about this early on. One of the questions we posed to our early round table was about building resilience. Not just for infrastructure, but for people. So that I think what you’re getting at is some of the institutions, some of the laws and rules of the game, trying to transfer those. Because that’s really at the base of any response, is that you have to have people that know their contracts will be enforced and know that they have some arbiter to say that yes, this is to make final decisions in these judgments.
Corrine Graff: [crosstalk 01:04:24].
Brett Walton: Oh, go ahead.
Corrine Graff: Sorry, I was just gonna say Brett, it is. And I think it’s also vital to, in the development community, to preserving development games and other sectors. I think that’s a critical aspect of resiliency as well. And it’s really intended to preserve and not allow these countries to fall back.
Brett Walton: So I think we probably have time for one more question. Scanning through the shared document here for something that’s good to wrap up on. I think there’s an open question here at the end that kind of goes to things that everyone’s talked about. And that’s how do you align all these forces together? Sunya and I talked about some of that in Kenya, where they’re prioritizing based on data from the field, but do any of the speakers know good examples where all of these actors and all of the data, and all of the institutions have been brought together to really join hands to go after one of these problems of value, conflict, and drought?
It’ll be dispiriting.
Geoff Dabelko: A revealing time. Geoff Dabelko. I would say, as opposed to an example, I’d say it really requires top cover and leadership to appreciate this in a way that doesn’t just exhort what starts to change some of our institutional impediments to doing it. We really like our silos and that’s the appropriators, that the people in the field. Those are the people at mid-level management in the donor agencies. And it’s most often those on the ground, the affected, who don’t have the luxury of staying in these different segmented silos. And so, I think part of it is if we can meet in the middle with a push from the field based, and a real top down one that really requires us to change some of our structures, and frankly, even how we study and understand these issues. It really takes breaking some of those down. It’s a long term, and it’s really easy to say, it’s much harder to do.
We did talk about some examples, and in Kenya example of how that is happening. But nevertheless, it really requires all of us to get together at multiple levels, to tackle it together.
Corrine Graff: And to build on that, Brett, one other example I would refer to, and I think highlights something that’s also really important here, because one of the questions talks about how realistic doing this is in developing countries, versus in wealthier countries. It’s to really set expectations appropriately. These buildings come with this system as the work of generations, not the work of administrations, or even less years. And so, there’s some really promising examples right now of activities and developments in Somalia. That maybe sounds counterintuitive but where at the local level citizen trust is being increased, resilience to drought, there are activities to increase resilience to drought. And we’re seeing Al Shabab in particular was ground. And we’re seeing frankly, the incidence of conflict and violence more broadly drop to some extent. So they’re very small steps, in addition to a very ruly partner at the national level. And a government that’s willing to take the steps. I think the challenge there will be linking the national level to the community level, and what’s happening at the community level.
But all that to say that they’re small steps. But there are examples I think in a number of countries, they’re just modest. But I think that’s where our expectations should be.
Brett Walton: All right. Thanks, Corrine. Always good to end on a hopeful note.
J. Carl Ganter: Thank you, Corrine.
Brett Walton: Back to Carl for a close here.
J. Carl Ganter: Yeah, thanks so much Brett. I did want to say, we have Alicia Douglas with her hand up. Alicia, we have time for just a quick comment. And then I wanted to ask our group two, since we’re covering these issues as journalists, and as citizens of the planet, where do we keep our eyes, just very quickly. But we’ll go to Alicia first. But where should we keep our eyes, geographically? Or even institutionally for the big change? Up or down? Where are the hot spots and where are the bright spots?
Alicia Douglas, quick comment and then we’ll go back to our panelists and I’ll do some credits and some thank yous.
Alicia Douglas: Hello Carl. Thank you so much. I hope everybody is well, wherever you are calling in from. I just wanted to make just a quick, and I put it up on the page, in regards to the internet of water report. That there has been a lot of comments that have been coming in, in regards to how can people that don’t have power be able to connect with the internet of water concept of what we’re doing. And so I think I’d want to refer back to that as being [inaudible 01:09:35]. I mean, they are boots on the ground with what Carl was doing, he becomes boots on the ground of sharing that data. So again, I just wanted to put it out, for dialogue, I encourage all of you guys to really look at imagining an internet of water and that becomes an open beta, [inaudible 01:09:50] platform. And I’ll leave it at that Carl. Thanks so much.
J. Carl Ganter: Thank you Alicia. I appreciate that too. And when we talk about it every night, of water we talk about, I was just reading about soft big data and I was just reading about soft data. The whole idea about not just numbers, but real people in real context. Kind of perception and reality. And that’s where we are. So very quickly, lightening round for our guest speakers and moderators. Where should we be pointing our lens if we’re journalists, if we’re concerned citizens? Where are the hot spots, where should we be looking, where should we be watching? And then, what are the bright spots? Give us a spot to point our compass. Sorry, I should’ve said somebody could go first. Roger-Mark, how about you start us off?
Roger-Mark: Oh thank you very much. I think here there was a saying, that we are continuing to track what’s happening in Asia. You know, Central Asia, Pakistan, India, the Himalayas, some of the areas in the greater Mekong subregion, and the Philippines. So we saw a lot of the complexities of dynamics there. And we continue to learn from some of the work that’s happening around collaboration in the Middle East. We see some of our partners with a group such as Eco-Peace Middle East implementing. So there are some opportunities that we continue to track.
Geoff Dabelko: Dabelko, can I jump in and follow on Roger-Mark, and emphasize our opportunities for our shared interdependence around water to be an avenue for dialogue. Sometimes it may not be easy, but dialogue that’s necessary, given our shared interdependence on water, and that that could be a basis for building trust and hopefully peace. And so, turning the water and conflict link on its head and trying to use that very interdependence as a force for conference building as the Eco-peace that Roger-Mark mentioned are doing in dynamic and impactful ways in the Middle East.
J. Carl Ganter: Great, thank you Geoff. And then, Corrine, where should we be pointing our lenses? Again, the hot spots, and the bright spots.
Corrine Graff: I think the bright spots are the developing country governments that are taking this on themselves, and creating resilient strategies. And I think the rest of the world needs to come in behind them, and support them. I think the hot spots geographically right now, are the great lakes, the DRC, and the humanitarian crises there that are in the shadow of the others. And I think another challenge, opportunity is developing the political will, or political framework at the global level, to address this challenge. We have the data, we have the information, we have the local programs in place. But I still think we need the political will at higher levels.
J. Carl Ganter: Great. Good point too. And Sunya Orre. Are you still with us here?
Sunya Orre: Yes, thank you very much. In Kenya, we have stories outside of Africa when it comes to water management. I can give for example, the case of [inaudible 01:13:13], which is basically a well [inaudible 01:13:16]. But transfer of knowledge, because a solution to this [inaudible 01:13:29]. So we look at the opportunities that exist, in terms of the technology, or political advancement. Yeah, so that’s the kind of opportunities that we are looking at. How can we make a global community?
J. Carl Ganter: All right, thank you Sunya. And then, last words from Maitreyi Bordia Das. Bright spots, and our hot spots. Where should we be looking?
Maitreyi Das : Is inequality. So inequality is definitely the hot spot that is going to drive additional hot spots. So just in terms of, I’m not talking geographical but just inequality and buckets of perception of inequality, whether or not that inequality really exists. But perception of inequality, I think is extremely important. Perception of being left out. I think that more than that. So inequality itself, and the perception of being left out. Those are the hot spots.
The bright spots I would say are states themselves. The state. And we’re seeing an era of strong states, and that’s got its own hazards. But if we’re going to make a difference, we’re gonna make a change, it’s going to be governments and states, and their relationships with citizens that is going to change things.
J. Carl Ganter: Great. Thank you so much, Maitreyi Bordia Das. And I want to say thanks to all of our guests for sharing their time and expertise. So what we’ve heard today I hope gives us a real sense of urgency. But also path for water as a unifying force, in an era with so many disruptions. As journalists, we tend to cover a lot of the bad news. We’ve heard a lot of also good news today. And also a lot of reframing of the picture. How the perception of being left out, far beyond geography, of these challenges.
But I want to say a special thanks to our guests for sharing their time and their expertise. Torgny Holmgren, Claudia Sadoff, Anders Jagerskog, Richard Damania, Sunya Orre, Corrine Graff, Ramon Scoble, Maitreyi Bordia Das. And to our facilitators, good friends all. Brett Walton, Geoff Dabelko, Roger-Mark De Souza. And here in Stockholm, we’ve had help from Circle of Blue’s Cody Pope, Laura Herd, and Matthew Welch, with Conner Beb on social media back in Michigan. And the MaestroConference team, back in San Francisco. And a special thank you to our collaborators. Our hosts here at the Stockholm International Water Institute, running the Stockholm World Water Week, The Netherlands, and The World Bank.
And H2O Catalyst was produced by Vector Center. Follow the results of the Catalyst Series online at circleofblue.org, and h20catalyst.org will publish transcripts and the full podcast version in segments of this program online, very shortly. And from all of us at Circle of Blue and Vector Center, here in Stockholm and around the world, World Water Week too, thank you so much, and I’m J. Carl Ganter.