CIRAD at the heart of a new centre of excellence

CIRAD is at the heart of a new centre of excellence on water in Southern Africa

The new International Centre for Water Economics and Governance in Africa, IWEGA, launched in Maputo in May 2009, will offer an initial vocational training as early as November 2009. The centre managers are working in parallel to implement degree courses by the autumn of 2011.

“In Africa, there are already several research and training centres dealing with water, but they tend to be oriented towards the “hard sciences”, i.e. engineering, climatology, agronomy, hydrology, physics and chemistry. With IWEGA, the International Centre for Water Economics and Governance in Africa, we are responding to a glaring lack of skills in the area of human sciences, such as socioeconomics and institutional analyses,” explains agricultural economist Stefano Farolfi, from the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), and now Scientific Director of the centre of excellence.

IWEGA came into being officially in May 2009, when the first international steering committee meeting was held in Maputo. Made up chiefly of researchers from the joint research unit G-Eau for which CIRAD is one of the supervising authorities, Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM) in Maputo and the Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa (CEEPA) at the University of Pretoria, the centre’s remit covers both research and training. “IWEGA is a regional platform for coordinating and carrying out research projects in a field and a region which have become a priority for French scientific cooperation,” points out Stefano Farolfi. “Furthermore, we intend to offer degree courses or vocational courses to public and private decision-makers, non-governmental organisations, and students. The former are well under way: we are setting up classes, looking for partnerships and seeking international validation. We hope to be able to offer a Regional Master’s Degree by the 2011-2012 academic year. With regards to the vocational training, this will begin in November 2009. The preparation procedure is a lot less complex. A three-day session will be offered to public decision-makers here in Mozambique, and another should follow in 2010 in Pretoria, South Africa, where interest is already being shown.” Finally, a series of short briefings for political decision-makers will be produced periodically, in the three languages of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The IWEGA project came into being two years ago in South Africa. Stefano Farolfi was then working in the field of Environmental Economics at CEEPA, where he was responsible for the “water” section. Along with his colleagues, he was approached by non-governmental organisations and public and private decision-makers with questions about how water could be managed: how the price of this resource could be set; how it could be used efficiently; how conflicts over water could be managed. They were hoping to obtain skills, knowledge and qualifications with CEEPA. “But we were only able to respond partially to their requests,” recalls the researcher. “So we began to wonder if it wouldn’t be a good idea to set up a more specific organisation. We discussed this with several partners before arriving at the creation of the IWEGA Centre in Maputo. A city that sounds like a challenge,” adds Stefano Farolfi, “indeed, in order to take our reflection as far as possible, we have chosen to set ourselves up in an ambitious country which has the will to overcome its difficulties”.

The centre, which will be run by the government of Mozambique and CIRAD, has already received funding and declarations of interest from international sponsors such as the World Bank, the World Resource Institute, the South African Department of Water Affairs (DWAF) and the Development Bank of Southern Africa.

Delphine Barrais
Websites:

-  Joint Research Unit (UMR) G-eau: http://www.g-eau.net/
-  French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development: www.cirad.fr
-  Eduardo Mondlane University: www.uem.mz
-  Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa: http://www.ceepa.co.za/
-  Southern African Development Community: www.sadc.int

publie le 30/10/2009

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