Integrated water resources management (IWRM) seeks to reconcile a country’s demand for water resources with the limitations of what those water resources can give. The Global Water Partnership defines IWRM as a process that promotes coordinated development and management of water, land, and related resources in river basins to maximize the economic benefits and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems. It is recognized by many countries around the world as a model for establishing good water governance.

IWRM in the Lake Victoria Basin

Some of the problems faced by the Lake Victoria Basin include increased flooding upstream, more frequent droughts downstream, agricultural encroachment on wetlands, reduced agricultural production, and declining biodiversity. To address these problems, governments and communities are introducing new ways of managing and sharing water resources. These include formulating the basic legal framework that determines who has the authority to manage the basin and setting up institutions—from river basin organizations to committees to water user groups—that help integrate and manage the multiple demands on the river’s resources.

NEWAS recognizes the need for the Lake Basin to be managed in integrated ways that promote equitable sharing of water resources while preserving the environment. It promotes investments in the infrastructure and management of water regulation and hydropower facilities, flood management, and watershed and wetlands conservation. In partnership with stakeholders, NEWAS has developed a list of IWRM elements and a generic roadmap to help practitioners introduce IWRM in the L.Victoria Basin.

Helping to introduce IWRM in L.Victoria Basin

The Lake Victoria Basin Management Authority targets the introduction of IWRM in 20 rivers feeding into the lake. Introducing IWRM in a river basin needs a positive enabling environment, clear institutional roles, and practical management instruments. The process can be anchored, and its achievements monitored, through

  • a capable river basin organization
  • institutionalized stakeholder participation
  • comprehensive river basin planning and monitoring

At the national level, the enabling environment includes an effective water policy, updated legislation, and conducive financing and incentive structures.

Among the issues to be addressed through the enabling environment are cost sharing and recovery, water use rights, and responsibilities of national water apex body, river basin organizations, local governments, service providers, water user organizations, and the private sector.

The Lake Basin Authrority

The Lake Basin Authority was established to share knowledge and build capacity for IWRM in river basins throughout the East African region. The authority for formed with these objectives:

  • Exchange of information and experience among river basin organizations in the lake basin
  • Strengthen river basin organizations’ capacity and effectiveness in promoting IWRM and improving water governance

The Lake Victoria Basin Authority focuses on the following:

  • Promoting advocacy and raising awareness for IWRM
  • Establishing river basin organizations
  • Sharing information, good practices and lessons learned by river basin organizations
  • Supporting NARBO members to improve water governance
  • Improving water governance for IWRM
  • Building capacity of river basin organizations to implement IWRM
  • Fostering regional cooperation for transboundary river basins

Read a report on the Ombenyi Integrated Wetland Management Plan