Water resources management


Sustainable water management adapted to climate change enables economic and social development.


Fresh water is a scarce resource in many regions. In many parts of the world, population growth, economic growth and climate change lead to overuse of water resources, erosion and degradation of soils, and pollution of surface and groundwater. In view of these challenges, the concept of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) was placed on the international agenda in the run-up to the Rio Conference in 1992. It focused on the need for coordinated development and management of water resources and soils in the face of increasing and competing uses. The use of resources should be geared to the basic needs of people, the optimisation of water use for economic development and the requirements of vital ecosystems.


The effects of climate change are already being felt in many regions of the world. Water availability is becoming even more irregular and extreme weather events such as floods and droughts are becoming more frequent. In recent years, this has led to increased droughts and floods in many catchment areas - with serious consequences for humans and animals. In particular, scarce water resources must be managed in such a way that they satisfy the needs of all interest groups as far as possible without overusing the resources.


The Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approach pursues precisely this goal. IWRM is regarded internationally as a model in the water sector and forms the basis for all GIZ water projects. These maxims of water management apply to national water catchment areas and river systems as well as to transboundary waters and aim at water resource security.


The GIZ Water Resources Security (WRS) Framework serves as a framework for the implementation of the IWRM mission statement. With the framework, the GIZ orients itself towards a policy approach that propagates a multidimensional system of objectives that aims at sufficient water resources for basic human needs, socio-economic development and healthy ecosystems while simultaneously reducing water risks, preventing user conflicts and migration, and taking into account connections between water, energy and food security and the environment.


GIZ's basic approach is capacity development. Capacity development describes a process through which people, organisations and societies mobilise, adapt and expand their capacities to shape their own development in a sustainable way and to adapt to changing framework conditions. Capacity development focuses on the management of national and cross-border water resources:

  • The development of a beneficial policy and a suitable institutional framework for the development and management of water resources
  • The empowerment of organisations and people to put solutions into practice.

Guided by the subsidiarity principle, the GIZ strengthens capacities for water resource management at all intervention levels: local water user associations, national catchment area management, the national water sector as well as cross-border river and sea area organisations and international water cooperation.


GIZ supports capacity development in three strategic fields of action:

  • Water cooperation and governance
  • Water resource management
  • Water resource development

In recent years GIZ has helped water authorities and water users in 22 countries (Afghanistan, Egypt, Bolivia, Grenada, Haiti, India, Yemen, Jordan, Kenya, Morocco, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, Zambia, St. Lucia, Somaliland, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Uganda, Vietnam) to improve water resource management and prepare for the challenges of climate change. We have also supported the establishment of river basin cooperation between the 2 to 10 participating riparian states in 15 cross-border river basins. These include the following river basins: Mekong, Mono, Amu Darya, Amu Syr, Drin, Rio Arborito, Nile, Lake Chad, Niger, Congo, Cuvelei, Kunene, Limpopo, Zambezi, Orange-Senqu.

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