Water resources play an important role in sustainable development and are central to all human activities and the health of natural ecosystems. In the past three decades, water resources have been subjected to two kinds of pressures – developmental pressures and climate change related pressures.

Among the developmental pressures, the primary demand has been from rapidly growing population resulting in competing uses from agriculture, industry and domestic use. The additional developmental pressures are also from rapidly changing lifestyles, including eating habits and the growing nexus between water and energy production.

According to findings from integrated water resources management experts to inform policy making, the developmental pressures that form the basis of our livelihood orchestrate the climate change related pressures. The dilemma that faces communities the world over is how to adapt to the impacts of climate change resulting from developmental pressures as well as what actions to put in place to mitigate the impacts of climate change. While most developed countries have fully understood this vicious cycle and promptly put in place policies and expertise for climate change adaptation and mitigation around water resources management, Africa still lags behind.

AT2Project Manager André Tchoumba inspects the impact of plastic waste on the Moli wetland.

In most of these developed countries the availability of resources have permitted the government to undertake structural options in the form of huge capital investments that secure water availability for different uses. This has been supported by sound policy instruments that harness nonstructural options. While such capital investments do not exist in African countries, there is an acute lack of expertise and personnel to implement the nonstructural options, adaptation and mitigation challenges can be addressed by harnessing nonstructural measures based on community participation, institutional reforms, incentives and behavioural change.

Eco Relief recently carried out field studies to look at ways for regional implementation of this approach; in an initiative led by its Country Project Coordinator André Tchoumba. To complete the knowledge gap needed to make this programme a success, Eco Relief has been honoured by an invitation to take part in the 10th World Congress on Water Resources and Environment in Athens, Greece, from July 5th to 9th 2017. This Congress is being organised by the National Technical University of Athens and the American Society of Civil Engineers. The aim of the Congress is to promote environmentally sustainable water resources management and assist in improving the capacity of countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change and natural hazards. This Congress would be attended on behalf of Eco Relief by Bunyui John Njabi and André Tchoumba in their respective capacity as Country Representative and Country Project Manager.