AWARe initiative spurring action on water issues, especially in Africa: Irrigation minister

Ahram Online , Saturday 25 Mar 2023

Egypt's Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Hani Sewilam emphasised the importance of the Action on Water, Adaptation, and Resilience (AWARe) international initiative in addressing water challenges, while at the UN Water Conference on Friday.

Irrigation Minister
Egypt s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Hani Sewilam chaired on Friday a session on water challenges in the final day of the activities of the UN 2023 Water Conference (Photo: Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources)


As water and climate challenges negatively affects billion of people around the world, AWARe aims to implement projects in the field of adapting to climate change in developing nations, particularly African countries, Sewilam noted.

The AWARe initiative, which was launched by Egypt during the 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27), aims to decrease water waste worldwide and improve water supply, while supporting the implementation of mutually agreed-upon policies and methods for cooperative water-related adaptation.

It also seeks to promote cooperation and interlinkages between water and climate action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of 2030, especially the sixth goal that aims to ensure access to water and sanitation for all.

More than half of Africa's territories are experiencing drought, coupled with a noticeable rise in temperatures.

Sewilam emphasised that AWARe takes into account the importance of protecting freshwater ecosystems and ensuring that economic growth does not negatively impact the use of fresh water.

It also seeks to link national water policies to climate action and to promote low-emission, low-cost sustainable management of drinking water and wastewater, he added.

Furthermore, it aims to boost cooperation over international river basins threatened by climate change and develop early warning systems for extreme weather phenomena.

The minister made his remarks while chairing a session titled “Water Action Decade: Accelerating the implementation of the objectives of the decade, including through the UN secretary-general's action plan” on the final day of the activities of the UN 2023 Water Conference.

The conference was held in New York City from Wednesday to Friday with the aim of raising awareness of the global water crisis and deciding on actions to achieve internationally agreed-upon water-related goals. 

Sewilam explained that the AWARe initiative will be implemented in partnership with several countries and organisations, through the adoption of national plans in line with the initiative's goals and objectives or through supporting initiative countries by mobilising funding, building capacities and transferring technology and knowledge.

The initiative will be guided by an international steering committee of founding members, the presidency of COP27 and COP28, leading and supportive partners, and a scientific advisory board made up of members of civil society, academia, research centres and science-related public figures.

Sewilam highlighted that the Arab region is one of the most water-scarce regions in the world, with 19 out of 22 Arab countries facing water scarcity.

He emphasised the need to improve the water management process and boost reliance on scientific research and technology to address water challenges, particularly in countries that depend on shared water resources.

Through the AWARe initiative, Egypt is working to address these challenges and promote sustainable water management practices that will benefit communities affected by water scarcity and climate change.

Call for considering COP27 results

Sewilam and Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of Japan to the United Nations Conference Yoko Kamikawa presented the results of an Interactive Dialogue on Water for Climate and Resilience held under the joint Egyptian-Japanese presidency on Friday.

Sewilam said the event concluded with a series of recommendations to help achieve water sustainability amid global water shortages due to climate change.

The recommendations included building upon the agreement achieved at COP27, particularly financial aid for countries most vulnerable to climate change and the establishment of a special fund for losses and damages.

The dialogue also urged adopting national mechanisms that coordinate with water concerned sectors, global integrated water resource management policies and linking them to other frameworks related to environmental systems with social and economic dimensions.

It also stressed the importance of mobilising and allocating funds to the water sector, investing in adaptation and resilience measures, creating a global water information system, reducing disaster risk,  as well as providing a mechanism following up on actions and commitments from the UN 2023 Water Conference.


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