Linking local networks in other countries to its own international network is essential for NWP to meet its objective of facilitating the Dutch water sector to have an even greater impact internationally. This also applies to Rwanda, the most densely populated country in Africa with considerable, but manageable, water challenges.
NWP’s Annemarie Mastenbroek was recently there to present at a conference and to get to know the Rwanda Water Partnership (RWP). The next step: exploring collaboration with the RWP in the interest of the Dutch water sector and local demand. Read her blog
“Proper and balanced water resources management is highly important for Rwanda. The availability of water is not yet a significant problem, but irregular rainfall combined with land degradation result in major problems caused by flooding. In April and May 2018, about 50,000 people were displaced and the excess moisture negatively impacted crop yields. In a country whose economy is highly dependent on agriculture and that has ambitious plans for developing irrigation and industrialisation, coordination of different sectors is key to achieving a balance between water supply and demand.
With this context in mind, I travelled to Rwanda for the first time to attend the IWRM Conference on 20 and 21 March and to make contact with the Rwanda Water Partnership (RWP). What struck me is that compared to other East African countries I have visited, everything looked well organised and managed. One noticeable fact, for example, is the practice of Imihigo, a kind of performance contract used to reinforce development planning, implementation and evaluation that is used at all levels of government. Rwanda is an interesting country, relatively stable and rapidly developing, with infrastructural projects being carried out almost everywhere.
The country also has a relatively good business climate, holding the 29th position in the World Bank’s Doing Business Index. This is helped by the fact that corruption is relatively low. According to the 2018 Corruption Perception Index, Rwanda is one of the five least corrupt countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. To put this in context: Italy, Croatia, Greece and Turkey score worse.
This context made it an interesting opportunity to meet the Rwanda Water Partnership (RWP) and explore potential collaboration to convert market opportunities and needs into concrete activities. We were able to contact the RWP via Mott MacDonald that is leading the implementation of Water for Growth Rwanda. This is a four-year joint Rwanda-Netherlands initiative to improve the effective management of water resources in Rwanda, led by the Government of Rwanda and supported by the Dutch Embassy.
RWP started about ten years ago but has only experienced a modest development over time. On the one hand, more activities are needed to prove relevance. On the other hand, funding is needed to get those activities off the ground. Seed capital is needed to bridge this funding gap and government support to induce this. Government support is important in general to create legitimacy, especially in a country like Rwanda. The current situation of a still rather inactive RWP can also be used as a momentum to plan its activities well in complementarity to the to be established Water Resources Board, which is high on the governmental agenda.
During the IWRM conference organised by various entities including Water for Growth, NWP and RWP held a joint session. RWP was particularly keen on learning how to generate interest to mobilise members; increase visibility beyond the members; and, respond to the financial and organisational requirements to facilitate effective cooperation between sector parties.
RWP has about 25 members and was granted accreditation as a Country Water Partnership by the Global Water Partnership (GWP). Just like our NWP network, its members consist of government agencies, NGOs, knowledge institutes and private businesses. An important difference is that RWP’s focus is national, while NWP’s is on helping the Dutch water sector to have a greater impact abroad. RWP’s objectives relate to water resources management and are focused on knowledge management, communication and influencing policy development.
It is essential for NWP, also within the framework of the Water Support Programme established by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and executed by NWP and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), to have strong ties with local networks in countries where the Dutch water sector is active. For Rwanda this is especially relevant given that the bilateral cooperation on water between Rwanda and the Netherlands will end in 2022.
Once it is in operation and has a well-coordinated role, the RWP is likely to prove a useful point of entry for the Dutch water sector. To be able to take advantage of opportunities, you first need to know exactly what is going on, what the demands are and who you should talk to. Having a local partner is an easy way to get in touch with local companies, governments, NGOs and knowledge institutions.
We are now investigating if there is enough commitment on the Rwandan side to take the RWP to the next level. I am positive that there is. Immediately after the conference, the chair and RWP members got together to start working on a follow-up. The idea discussed during the joint session with NWP is to start with a few activities every year and a well-functioning website. In this way RWP can demonstrate its relevance step by step. We will continue to strengthen our ties in order to create more opportunities for the Dutch water sector in Rwanda to meet local demand.”