Strengthening the role of civil society in water sector governance towards climate change adaptation in African cities – Durban, Maputo, Nairobi
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Water resources management is one of the most important climate change-related issues on international, national and urban public policy agendas. Income inequality in South Africa, Mozambique, and Kenya is among the largest in the world; in all three countries, equity struggles related to water are growing in social, political and ecological significance, which is both a symptom and a cause of urban vulnerabilities related to climate change. Democratic mediation of these conflicts, and sustainable long-term management of water resources in the face of climate change, requires public participation. But those most affected by water issues such as scarcity and flooding are also those least likely to be able to participate in governance and policy institutions. In particular, members of economically disadvantaged groups – especially women, in general – tend to be gravely impacted by poor water management, but also face great difficulties in participating effectively in governance bodies. This project responded to that particular need, and has developed practical strategies for strengthening urban governments in planning investments in climate change adaptation. The project linked university researchers with community-based NGOs conducting environmental education and organizing participatory workshops in low-income urban areas with pressing climate change and water-related problems; built on proven methods of community-university collaboration to strengthen urban watershed governance; increased equity in public participation processes related to urban climate change adaptation; and fostered progressive local, national and international policy development on climate change-related water management – while training students, university researchers, NGO staff members, and community participants. The major research outcome of the project is its contribution to understanding effective ways of strengthening local governments, NGOs and civil society organizations involved in environmental education and organizing for improved public participation in watershed governance and climate change adaptation in African urban areas.
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