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Sustainable Water Harvesting Projects for Livestock Water in South Sudan

Sustainable Water Harvesting Projects for Livestock Water in South Sudan
May 2015

Water harvesting (WH) projects do not depend on good engineering and technology alone. Environmental impacts and socioeconomic considerations are equally important, and need to be addressed through the entire process of development nterventions. An environmental evaluation of a widespread WH pond construction program in Ethiopia, for instance, found that little attention was paid to the environmental consequences. As a result, the construction of ponds in susceptible areas increased incidences of malaria (Landell Mills 2004).

Likewise, socioeconomic issues need attention when introducing any WH system into a community. For example, people in drier environments have developed their own priorities for sustaining their livelihoods through centuries of surviving under the harsh environmental conditions. It would be important therefore to take adequate consideration of their values, perceptions, attitudes, and preferences rather than trying to impose prescribed solutions on them.

These guidelines build on experience and techniques from across the Sub-Saharan region and are an extension of the first stage of this project, as reported in the 2014 Preliminary Environmental and Socioeconomic Assessment (PESEA) of Selected Water Harvesting Structures in South Sudan, a joint initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Providing WH structures (for example, hafirs, artificial ponds to store rainwater) can improve the livelihoods of pastoral communities that face the challenges of a marginal environment with highly variable rainfall. However, appropriate socioeconomic and environmental considerations are needed in their planning, construction, and operational phases in order to avoid undesirable consequences that may undermine social stability or environmental sustainability.

These guidelines provide the essential environmental and socioeconomic assessment tools that planners and practitioners need to identify and integrate environmental and socioeconomic considerations into their development plans and implementation of WH projects. The latter might include a diversity of WH systems such as hafirs, other types of excavated ponds, or earthen microdams for livestock watering and other purposes. In short, users of these guidelines will be able to:

  • Identify the most important environmental and socioeconomic aspects that need consideration in the planning and implementation of WH systems;
  •  Articulate general and specific constraints resulting from inadequate consideration of environmental and socioeconomic factors;
  • Augment their existing conceptual knowledge and practical skills in environmental and socioeconomic dimensions to effectively facilitate participatory planning and implementation of WH systems in a manner that ensures sustainable development (i.e., socially acceptable, environmentally sound, and economically viable and equitable).

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