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Water Security in an Uncertain Future: Enhancing Water Resources Management and Planning by Reducing Climate- and Weather- Related Risks

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In Person
Thursday, April 18, 2019
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Global water security is vulnerable to a range of risks, including those that are climate- and weather-related, such as floods, recurrent droughts and variable rainfall patterns. As these become increasingly more frequent and intense, safeguarding water resources is paramount to achieving development outcomes that help countries become more self-reliant. An integrated approach to water resources planning and decision-making that addresses short- and long-term risks across capital investments in infrastructure, operations and maintenance, and human resources is needed to ensure high quality management and availability of increasingly scarce water resources.

The April Adaptation Community Meeting will focus on climate-related risks to water security and how USAID is responding through water resources management and planning. Approaches include examining climate related impacts affecting transboundary water resources and allocation, integrating a climate vulnerability assessment into decision-making, and use of natural infrastructure to improve water security and contribute to building resilience. The event will feature a panel discussion of relevant USAID-funded activities in Southern Africa, the Mara basin in East Africa, and Peru. Presentations will cover the following topics:

Resilient Waters – USAID’s Resilient Waters program builds on previous USAID investments in the region, such as the Southern Africa Regional Environmental Program (SAREP) and Resilience in the Limpopo Basin (RESILIM) programs, to build the resilience of institutions and communities to reduce climate related risks. Working in the Limpopo and Okavango basins, Resilient Waters will build the capacity of various stakeholder groups to identify, prepare for, and adapt to climate risks. The project, early in its inception, plans to facilitate scenario planning exercises with stakeholders to identify capacity needs and develop adaptation responses based on resilience and vulnerability assessments conducted by SAREP and RESILIM, among others.

Sustainable Water Partnership – The USAID Sustainable Water Partnership (SWP) launched an activity in the Mara basin to improve on-the-ground water security, develop a basin-wide plan for allocating water, and provide the tools and science to improve decision-making around water. To support these goals, the Adaptation Thought Leadership and Assessments (ATLAS) project conducted a basin-wide climate vulnerability assessment to inform water allocation plan decision-making.

Natural Infrastructure for Water Security – The Natural Infrastructure for Water Security program in Peru seeks to scale up investments in natural infrastructure in Peru to safeguard water supplies and increase climate resilience. In the tropical Andes, pre-Inca cultures developed nature-based water-harvesting technologies to manage drought risks under natural climatic extremes; however, today, most remain in disrepair. Policy reforms and new financial commitments in Peru hold the potential to revalue these indigenous practices, channeling funds from water users in cities like Lima to upstream, rural communities. The NIWS activity is also working with local partners to address barriers to allow these political and financial commitments to reach new, innovative projects on the ground, and to generate knowledge on their impacts to support effective adaptive management into the future.


Alison Macalady is a water advisor at USAID/Washington where she manages USAID's Sustainable Water Partnership. She is also leading the development of a research agenda to support water and sanitation programming. Prior to joining USAID, she was a program officer with the National Academy of Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering (NASEM). At NASEM, she worked with the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate to produce of numerous reports, including on Next Generation Earth System Prediction: Strategies for Subseasonal and Seasonal Climate Forecasts (2016), and Integrating Social and Behavioral Sciences within the Weather Enterprise (2018). She holds a PhD in geography and global change from the University of Arizona, a master’s degree in forestry and environmental studies from Yale University, and a bachelor’s degree in geology from Carleton College.

Brian App is an international natural resource management specialist and a home office director currently supporting the southern Africa regional program in transboundary watershed management (Resilient Waters) and combatting wildlife crime (VukaNow) at Chemonics International. Previously, he served as the deputy chief of party for the Southern Africa Regional Environmental Program (SAREP) from 2011 to 2015 to build resiliency and improve management in the Okavango river basin. Brian has worked in more than 15 countries with a focus on environment, biodiversity conservation, community-based natural resource management, and global climate change. He has also contributed to numerous biodiversity and tropical forest assessment and environmental compliance activities for USAID programs across multiple sectors. He holds a bachelor of science degree in management science from the School of Business at the State University of New York and a master of science in international natural resource management from the School of Forestry at the University of Montana.

Basil Mahayni is deputy director of USAID’s Sustainable Water Partnership (SWP), which supports USAID’s thought leadership, innovation, and programming in global water security. Basil helps lead SWP’s thought leadership activities, development of tools and resources for improved water security, and technical engagement with SWP’s Sustainable Water for the Mara Activity. As a water governance specialist, he has experience in project management, communications, outreach, master planning, non-revenue water (NRW), and monitoring and evaluation. Basil has also published applied research and analysis related to water quality and quantity, water governance reforms, climate change impacts on water security, and sustainable financing for climate change adaptation. Basil holds a Ph.D. in geography, environment, and society from the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities), where his dissertation research focused on water governance challenges and reforms in Jordan and Syria. He also holds an M.A. and B.A. in political science, and a graduate certificate in geographic information systems from Iowa State University.

Gena Gammie is the deputy chief of party of the Natural Infrastructure for Water Security (NIWS) activity in Peru. She is a conservation finance specialist who works to scale up incentives and other economic tools that recognize the value of nature and upstream communities in assuring secure, clean water. As part of the Forest Trends team leading implementation of the NIWS activity, Gena works with government, water utilities, businesses, technical experts, and civil society to systematically address barriers to effective investments in nature that manage water risks, in the context of a changing climate. Gena holds a master of science with distinction in environmental policy and regulation from the London School of Economics, where her dissertation focused on multi-stakeholder platforms for cooperative water resources management. She also holds a bachelor’s in political science from Loyola Marymount University.

A live webinar of the event will be available here.

This event is part of the monthly USAID Adaptation Community Meetings. For more information and to stay up-to-date on similar events, sign up to receive event updates

Photo credit: Bobby Neptune, Winrock International.