Successes and lessons learnt from the IUCN Water and Nature Initiative (WANI) in the Pacific were discussed and recorded at the Initiative's wrap-up meeting, held early December in Suva, Fiji.
Over fifteen participants, comprising project and regional partners and donors, attended a 4-day wrap up meeting of the Water and Nature Initiative (WANI) to discuss the challenges and lessons learnt from working on water resource management with communities, local and national governments over the past few years.
Early 2008, WANI began its preliminary work in the Pacific region. From 2010 onwards, IUCN embarked on working with the governments of Samoa and Fiji on water resources management with the aim to improve the resilience of both people and nature to a changing climate.
IUCN’s Water and Wetlands Programme Coordinator, Dr. Milika Sobey, outlined that “WANI set out to improve how local and urban communities manage their water resources using a ‘ridge-to-reef’ approach and it has achieved that”
“This wrap-up meeting has given us valuable insight into what could be done differently in planning future projects. For instance, there is consensus in having both top-down and bottom-up approaches, together with concrete timeframes for project implementation”.
The project in Samoa focussed on the Togitogiga Catchment on the island of Upolu, Samoa. Once a flourishing catchment, the area was degraded due to soil erosion, sedimentation and water pollution, caused by land development and an increasing population.
IUCN helped the government of Samoa to develop and implement an integrated watershed management plan for Togitogiga. This guides the government, as well as the community, to improve the ecosystem of the catchment, and in turn people's livelihoods.
In Fiji, IUCN worked with communities around the town of Nadi and on the island of Kadavu. In the flood prone town of Nadi, IUCN has helped to set up the Nadi Basin Catchment Committee (NBCC) and assisted in undertaking a Nadi Basin biodiversity inventory. The project successfully drafted a National Flood Policy, through inter-agency coordination for Fiji’s water management; a first in Fiji.
In partnership with IUCN Member the University of the South Pacific (USP), IUCN is working with communities on the island of Kadavu, which has one of the largest protected areas in Fiji with 65 registered Marine Parks. This project established a District Catchment Committee to oversee the development of an integrated approach to water management for the area. Also, training on native forest restoration has led to villages creating their own nurseries, planting native species in degraded upper catchment areas, and reduced burning and grazing.
“Though the project has come to its end, the successes and lessons learnt from WANI can be replicated nationally as well as regionally, and we will document these into a publication that will be disseminated to relevant agencies,” said Dr Sobey.
Lessons learnt from WANI will also be integrated into IUCN’s work in the Kovi Catchment on the Solomon Islands, and other future projects within the Pacific region.
WANI is the Water and Nature Initiative, working in more than 12 river basins in over 30 countries worldwide. WANI unlocks the potential for healthy river basins to build climate resilience and to sustain ecosystems and livelihoods. It is financially supported by DGIS, the Netherlands Directorate-General for International Cooperation.
For more information:
Milika Sobey, IUCN Water and Wetlands Programme Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org