Who are we?

The African Water Issues Research Unit [AWIRU] is a not-for-profit applied research organisation based at the University of Pretoria, established to develop an African capacity to understand the complexity of African water management and development issues. AWIRU`s objective is to generate water management solutions that are politically, socially, economically, environmentally and culturally sustainable in Africa.

AWIRU operates in unison with the goals of the New Partnership for Africa`s Development [NEPAD], aiming to strengthen transboundary water governance at all levels throughout southern Africa. Cooperation over water resources shared between states, regions and economic sectors can spill over into enhanced regional integration.

What do we do?

Water is a cross-cutting issue impacting the entire spectrum of human security, including elements of health, food-security, environmental sustainability, political economy and international relations. Any attempt to deal with water in isolation of the other components of human security is bound to place greater stress on the system. In order to reach consensus between the people representing the various components, AWIRU has adopted an attitude of reflexive listening. Relevant stakeholders are included in project deliberations at the earliest point possible, making a genuine attempt at incorporating their goals, desires and concerns in the project implementation.

The recently completed Green Cross International [GCI] Water For Peace project on the Okavango River demonstrated the effectiveness of the approach. Allowing the OKACOM Commissioners to meet outside of their office environment and interact with the ecology and people of the Okavango Delta made each of the upstream basin states acutely aware of the point of view of the downstream state. This opened the doors to the sharing of goals, obstacles and objectives.

Our Focus

We focus on three key areas:

1. Transboundary water management -between countries, regions, communities and economic sectors. This includes both advocacy/research and training through the UPTW.

2. Policy formulation & institutional development – the role of second-order resources in effective water management.

3. Technical water management instruments – their interaction with the socio-political setting in which they operate [these instruments can include legal, hydrologic and economic models].