The mission statement is derived from the World Water Vision initiated by the World Water Council. Some of the key actions identified through the World Water Vision process are to:
- involve all stakeholders in integrated water resources management
- recognize the need for co-operation to improve integrated water resources management in international basins.
- massively increase the investments in water.
- The World Water Vision for Africa emphasized "Equitable and sustainable use of Africa's water resources for poverty alleviation, socio-economic development, regional cooperation, and for the environment".
Some of the obstacles in involving stakeholders in Nile Basin countries are:
- Lack of access to information. In some countries, water resources information is considered a 'national secret'.
- Exclusion of the civil society from the decision-making process regarding water resources management and irrigation projects. These projects are decided at the highest level of government.
- Lack of advocacy tools and access to media.
- It is hoped that by providing accurate information and studies and providing the means to access such information and alternative ways of communication and publishing that this would result in more active and informed involvement of the civil society and media.
Management of watersheds, no matter of size, is concerned with the holistic application, use, administration, coordination and corrective actions associated with social, economic, political and environmental events. Management of resources within a watershed requires all of the science and expertise needed to effectively meet the goal of stakeholders. The hierarchy of stakeholders (communities) influencing how watersheds are managed includes the individual, the farm or piece of land, village, city, district or county, province, country, region, and world.
Who are the stakeholders is complex, but the combination of a watershed community make-up must be linked to carry out management. The fact that management of resources in watersheds is both program and project oriented has contributed to misunderstanding of what it really is. On the one hand there are programs being simultaneously developed at national and multinational levels and on the other at the local (micro watershed) level. Development within a watershed is fully consistent with water (shed) management. Development includes tourism, agriculture, business growth, etc. Rising population, increasing urbanization and greater demand on all ecosystem resources are high priority reasons to insure that investment is made on the health of our watersheds.
The real issue is having people understand that after years, and probably centuries, of manipulating a watershed without understanding " the big picture ", not caring, or being a victim of historic, difficult-to-break practices it may take years to stop degradation.
The World Resources 2000-2001: "People and Ecosystems: The Fraying Web of Life", calls for an ecosystems approach to managing the world's critical resources, which means evaluating decisions on land and resource use in light of how they affect the capacity of ecosystems to produce goods and services.
An ecosystem approach would:
A- Tackle the information gap.
Managing ecosystems effectively requires a detailed understanding of their current condition and how they function.
B- Engage in a public dialog on goals, policies, and trade-offs.
Dramatic improvements in ecosystem condition and capacity are possible when governments and nongovernmental organizations create opportunities to air diverse approaches toward ecosystem management.
C- Recognize the value of ecosystem services.
Removing subsidies and explicitly pricing ecosystem services can be politically difficult but can promote efficient resource use.
D- Involve local communities in managing ecosystems.
Local communities are often the most prudent ecosystem managers. Involving local communities can also yield a more equitable distribution of the benefits and costs of ecosystem use.
Limitations of NBS involvement:
A- Validity of data presented:
According to Dr C. H. Batchelor in watershed-L electronic forum:
It is a simple fact that, in most countries, large quantities of resource-related information exist. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to access or use this information because:
- Data are fragmented in that they are held by different organizations and, in some cases, by different departments or individuals within these organizations
- Spatial and non-spatial data are stored in a wide range of formats (e.g. maps, remotely-sensed images, tables of figures, text, graphs, etc.) and media (e.g. in year books, research papers, on computer disks etc.)
- Spatial and temporal scales, at which data have been collected, vary enormously
- Data quality is extremely variable
- The challenge is to consolidate and quality control this existing information and then to use it to obtain as clear a picture as is possible of the current status of water resources, past and future water resource demands and the potential impacts (again past and future) of human activity on the quantity and quality of water resources at different scales.
The Nile Basin Society does not propose to play a role in consolidating nor quality control of available information. However, the sources cited would be mostly those of international organizations and researchers. Even though, these data need critical analysis by the users.
B- Encouraging local public participation and involvement:
We know that awareness is the first step for behavioral change. However, the laws governing NGOs and media (and the democratic process in general) has to be changed in the Nile Basin countries to allow active participation. This is out of the scope of NBS. We strongly believe in David Suzuki, a Canadian environmentalist, that:
"If the people will lead, the leaders will follow." Dr. David Suzuki