Monday, April 11, 2011

Assessing the true value of water in Southern Africa


Assessing the true value of water in Southern Africa

 WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA - Apr 04 2011 07:05
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"Economic accounting of water combines different factors relating to water use such as hydrology, economic assessment of water resources, pollution and social distribution. It is a multidimensional system," says Sullivan.

"It doesn't just look at the hydrological component or the economic returns, but also takes ecological sustainability and equity into account. So it is a step up from either taking a purely hydrological, economic or ecological point of view. It is an attempt to plan and manage water resources on a basin level in the best possible way."

"Although EAW is a critical tool for efficient and effective management of water resources," says Manase, "it is not yet widely applied in the SADC region." At present, only Namibia, Botswana, Mauritius and South Africa are compiling water accounts at varying levels of detail.

More accurate assessment of the role water plays in the economy -- and the effects of economic uses of water on present and future availability -- will aid comparison of benefits across sectors and accurately document inefficient use. It could also help water managers make a strong case for investment in water infrastructure.

"Water accounting started as a research tool, but it is slowly moving on to be a useful tool to inform policy-making," says Sullivan. "It is still early days, the potential of economic water accounting has not yet been reached, but as the models get more detailed and allow for elaborate scenario-testing EAW will be better suited for decision-making." -- Sapa-IPS

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