The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a United Nations agency that leads international efforts to defeat hunger organized a sub-regional technical workshop on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 6.4 from 2 – 4 April 2019 at Avani Hotel, Gaborone. SDG target 6.4, states that; “By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity”.
The purpose of the workshop was;
• To describe the methodologies for the computation of the indicators of the SDG target 6.4, and discuss their implementation in the participating countries.
• To discuss the institutional arrangements needed in the different countries for the implementation of the SDG monitoring system.
• To define the next steps that will be needed in order to have data from the countries, according to the timeframe defined by the SDG process.
• To identify the possibilities for regional cooperation for harmonization of the monitoring system, taking into account the transboundary water resources management.
• To identify needs and opportunities for further support from FAO to the participant countries, including establishing synergies with existing projects and programs, as well as identifying new possibilities at regional and national level.
When giving opening remarks at the workshop, Deputy Statistician General (DSG) Ms. Malebogo Kerekang indicated that Statistics Botswana is working in partnership with the Ministry of Land Development, Water and Sanitation Services and other key stakeholders in monitoring and reporting on SDG 6.4 through the relevant indicators, for which the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) is the United Nations custodian agency.
Ms. Kerekang said SDG 6.4 is particularly important for Botswana, which is a semi-arid country that is prone to recurring drought; a situation which she said is exacerbated by the emergence of climate change, adding that Southern African countries can attest to the negative effects of this global phenomena, hence finding water usage efficiencies of sectors is of paramount importance to Southern African countries.
She further mentioned that Statistics Botswana act as a Focal Point for SDG 6.4 and coordinates the updating of the AQUASTAT questionnaire with relevant stakeholders, which is used to build the database to monitor implementation of SDG 6.4.
She said further work has also been done on the templates for developing the two indicators of SDG 6.4. Despite milestones being achieved by Statistics Botswana in monitoring SDG target 6.4, Ms. Kerekang pointed out some challenges to this goal as she highlighted that data needed in monitoring is spread across various entities dealing with management and use of water; as such data sources are multi-disciplinary and interest is from diverse quarters.
“Therefore in order to effectively monitor and report on SDG 6.4, national coordination is of paramount importance” she said.
She said another setback is that most data needed for development of the indicators is administrative in nature and comes with some inherent challenges such as data gaps and misaligned categorization or classification. However, DSG mentioned that technical expertise for calculation of indicators and collection of data is also necessary and such skills are inadequate.
For his part, Mr. Rene Czudek, FAO Representative in Botswana said Goal number 6 cuts across all the other 16 Goals, therefore understanding the linkages involved will enable countries to achieve the Goals and targets effectively by harnessing synergies between them while managing any potential conflicts
“The vast majority of target-level linkages across the 2030 Agenda with Goal 6 are positive, because implementing the Goal 6 targets mutually supports a large number of other targets, and vice versa”, said Mr. Czudek.
Mr. Czudek said that it’s critical that the targets within each Goal are implemented in an integrated fashion, as they were designed, to ensure they support targets on increasing recycling and safe reuse of water [6.3], increasing efficiency and ensuring sustainable withdrawals [6.4] and protecting water-related ecosystems [6.6].
He said in Southern African sub-region, the data collected so far indicates that water-use efficiency is higher than in sub-Saharan Africa overall. However, he pointed out that differences among countries remain high, while at the same time water stress is higher than in sub-Saharan Africa overall. These data he said, indicates that while water is overall sufficient variations of availability in time and space need to be managed in order to avoid serious problems in the future.
He further said in order to support the monitoring of SDG 6, UN-Water has established a multi-agency initiative, GEMI project, aimed at ensuring, by 2030, a coherent monitoring framework for water and sanitation to contribute to country progress through well-informed decision-making on water, based on harmonized, comprehensive, timely and accurate information. He said FAO has joined this project, by adding its own resources in order to ensure that support can be provided to all countries.