In advance of 9th World Water Forum to be held in Dakar, Senegal, the OMVS (Organisation pour la Mise en Valeur du fleuve Sénégal) and its partners organised a strategic reflection on potential initiatives to integrate local livelihoods into planning at the Basin level.
The event was linked to a cultural festival on the banks of the Senegal River from 25 to 27 February 2022 in Mboumba.
The festival brought together internationally renowned musicians, actors and artists from the four countries riparian to the river under the title “Voices of the River, Voices for Peace”. The open-air festival is rooted in local traditions and has been taking place at regular intervals in Senegal since 2010, with the aim of making culture accessible at the local level.
Building on this concept, at the occasion of the 6th edition of the festival, the Geneva Water Hub partnered with festival organisers to give voice to local communities on linkages between the management of the river basin and local livelihoods.
Traditionally in the region, local livelihoods and traditions have been organised around the flood cycle. However, these livelihoods are threatened by changes in the flood regime caused by the construction of dams, competition over natural resources, population growth, and climate change.
Local institutions and practices have been weakened, and local communities are less cohesive than they have been over the past decades.In response, the reflection elicits public responses and ideas on a new relationship with the river that could strengthen local entrepreneurship and employment.
Among the initiatives envisaged for the 9th World Water Forum is the creation of Blue Fund, dedicated to investment in water users in all their diversity. In the framework of the festival, a dialogue was initiated on how best to utilise such a fund to rebuild social cohesion and generate employment in a river basin context.
It is envisaged that the project will enable investments in sustainable and equitable development that are rooted in local realities and needs and increase local resilience.
Furthermore, the OMVS is known as a success story in the area of international water cooperation as a vehicle for peace building. The project is therefore emblematic for the 9th World Water Forum, which is themed around water security for peace and development. It is also a stepping stone in an international dialogue that will culminate in the UN Water Conference in New York in 2023.