Water resources management


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


Freshwater is a scarce resource in many regions. In many parts of the world, population growth, economic growth and climate change are leading 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 is to be geared to meeting people’s basic needs, optimising water use for economic development and taking account of 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. Scarce water resources in particular 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 inclusion of nature-based solutions to improve the water environment is becoming increasingly important.

GIZ pursues an approach that propagates a multidimensional system of objectives aiming to achieve 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 account of the links between water, energy and food security and the environment.

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

  • devising an enabling policy and a suitable institutional framework to develop and manage water resources
  • empowering organisations and people to put solutions into practice.

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

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