Sustainable Water Policy

Project description

Title: Sector Programme Sustainable Water Policy
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ); EU Commission (cofinancier of the nexus component)
Country: Global programme, Sector programme; Latin America, North Africa, Middle East and River Niger Basin
Overall term: 2017 to 2020

1. Das Sektorvorhaben koordiniert jährlich die deutsche Delegation bei der größten Konferenz im Sektor, der Stockholmer Weltwasserwoche. Copyright: GIZ/ Lacramioara Stroe Ziegler


One of the central challenges of the 21st century consists in ensuring the permanent availability of sufficiently clean water. In many regions of the world, people are as yet unable to exercise their human rights to water and sanitation. According to the United Nations (UN), 2.1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water, while 4.5 billion people lack safely managed sanitation. Population growth, economic growth, climate change and urbanisation increase the pressure on globally and locally limited water resources. Experts assume that the worldwide demand for water will increase by more than 50 per cent by 2050.

Germany is one of the most important donors and is heavily involved in global strategy development and decision-making processes for achieving the water-related Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. German development cooperation focuses here primarily on the water strategy of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). One key challenge lies in developing and implementing BMZ’s concepts and innovative approaches and including them in the international discussion.


There is greater awareness of the global water crisis, and the approaches proposed by German development cooperation are being adopted by many partners around the world. The integrated approach to securing water, energy and food (nexus approach) is being developed in the partner countries and development cooperation programmes. 

2. Das Sektorvorhaben erarbeitet innovative Konzepte für den Wassersektor. Frauen beim Wasser holen an einem Wasserkiosk in Tansania. Copyright: GIZ/Till Müllenmeister


The project supports BMZ by providing expert advice, in addition to devising strategies and approaches for implementing the water strategy. To achieve this, innovative models for financing water and sanitation, as well as approaches to encourage good governance, are being developed, for example. Strategies focusing on the role of water in adapting to climate change and reducing greenhouse gases are being developed that take account of the entire water cycle. These approaches support international processes, with particular attention paid to the interrelationships between water and other areas, such as agriculture and energy, or migration and the root causes of displacement.

The project develops strategies for securing long-term water availability for all. Among other things, the project supports BMZ and the European Union (EU) in regional and international exchange on the water-energy-food nexus (WEF nexus). Political discourse with the aim of developing integrated approaches is conducted with diverse actors and regional organisations, for example in Latin America with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), in the Middle East and North Africa with the Arab League and in West Africa with the Niger Basin Authority (ABN). Policy recommendations will then be derived from this discourse.

In January 2019, two further projects were added: one at Lake Kivu and the Ruzizi River for nexus-based water management, the other to improve security and climate resilience in fragile regions of the Sahel zone.


In international dialogue, the project has triggered and shaped the development of new mechanisms required to support and finance access to safe water and sanitation. In cooperation with KfW Development Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank, a new fund is currently being developed to enable resources to be deployed more effectively, efficiently and in a manner better able to combat poverty.

The international discourse specifically addressed the close relationship between water and climate. As a result, the crucial importance of water management, particularly in adaptation and mitigation measures, has been firmly embedded in the annual UN Climate Change Conferences and the Global Commission on Adaptation.

Policy recommendations for the nexus approach were introduced by partners in three regions. Action plans for implementing investment projects for water, energy and food security were drawn up jointly.

More than 450 participants were provided with training as part of capacity-building measures. Participants were taught about the relationship between water, energy and food security and about integrated approaches.