Category 1 has been awarded to a project focusing on groundwater management using the system of nature from Kumamoto city in Japan and Category 2 has been awarded to a project focusing on safe water and sanitation for all in the Republic of Moldova.
March 22, 2013
The prize has been awarded during the official ceremony of World Water Day 2013 taking place in The Hague, the Netherlands.
The purpose of this UN-Water Award is to promote efforts to fulfill international commitments made on water and water-related issues by 2015 through the recognition of outstanding best practices that can ensure the long-term sustainable management of water resources and contribute to the achievement of internationally agreed goals and targets.
The prize is awarded yearly in two categories: Category 1 is awarded to best water management practices, and Category 2 is awarded to best participatory, communication, awareness-raising and education practices. Every year, special emphasis is being put on the theme selected for World Water Day. In 2013, special focus has been given to the topic “Water cooperation”.
The Secretariat, ensured by the UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC), received a total of 46 applications for this year’s edition: 34 for category 1 and 12 for category 2. Geographical distribution of applications is as follows: Africa 9%, Asia 31%, Europe 13%, Latin America and the Caribbean 41%, Northern America 4%, and Oceania 2%.
Category 1, best water management practice, has been awarded to a project implemented in the city of Kumamoto in Japan. Kumamoto City is located in the centre of Kyushu, the southern major island of Japan.
The city is blessed with abundant groundwater in the volcanic aquifer created by Mt. Aso. Thanks to this, the drinking water for its 730,000 citizens is totally supplied by groundwater.
The city has been undertaking various efforts to maintain their abundant, pure and crystal-clean groundwater so as to pass down this precious resource to their future generations.
In cooperation with neighbouring municipalities, Kumamoto City government has managed artificial groundwater recharge system using abandoned paddies and protected watershed forests. By protecting the natural systems and conserving Kumamoto’s high-quality groundwater, the city can provide its citizens with high quality “mineral water from the tap”.
The achieved system of creating groundwater in Kumamoto can be considered to be a combined work of the “natural system” of Mt. Aso and the “local human activity”.
Category 2, best participatory, communication, awareness-raising and education practice, has been awarded to the project “Water and sanitation for all” from the Republic of Moldova.
The Republic of Moldova remains one the poorest countries in Europe. According to recent studies, in 2006, only 15% of the rural population in the Republic of Moldova had a house connection for drinking water, and only 55% of the population living in rural areas had access to basic sanitation.
The Moldovan National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP) calculated the social and economic impact of water pollution in the country and reached the conclusion that the cost to the economy was in the range of 5% – 10% of GDP. The rural citizens in the Republic of Moldova rely on small-scale water supply systems or on shallow wells which are often contaminated with micro-organism and nitrates.
Latrines are the primary form of sanitation used, which is a significant source of environmental pollution. In addition, animal waste is often not adequately stored and treated, resulting in the cross contamination of water bodies.
The Safe Water and Sanitation for all in Moldova initiative aimed at improving the situation in rural Moldova by mobilizing citizens and the authorities to realize and respect the right to access safe water and sanitation through the sustainable management of local resources.
Such implementation included maintaining clean water sources to improve human health, which also helps to maintain the environmental integrity of aquatic ecosystems, and thus contributes to protecting biological diversity.
The impact of the activities is visible on community’s behaviour: no more solid waste is dumped near the public or private wells and spring cleaning of wells is once again a tradition in the communities where awareness was raised during the project.
Finalist candidates in category 1 include the 2nd ranked project “Living Lakes”, which focuses on the exchange of experience and knowledge regarding the sustainable management of lakes and wetlands, and the 3rd ranked project TNDRIP “Farmer Participatory Capacity Building Program for Drip Irrigation Management” which trained 1,000 farmers from across 100 villages in drip irrigation in Tamil Nadu, India, from 2009 to 2012.
In category 2, finalist candidates include the 2nd ranked initiative “Democratisation of Water Management: Promoting community collaborative water management between government officers and villagers” implemented in Tamil Nadu, India, and aimed at improving water service delivery and achieving sustainable and equitable water supply by changing the perspectives and behaviors of government officers in the water sector and facilitating a collaborative relationship between these officers and the communities they served, and the 3rd ranked project “Health Village: WASH Monitoring Perspective” aimed at reducing poverty in different villages in Bangladesh through community empowerment, increased access to and use of safe water and sanitation services and improved hygiene practices for women and marginalized people.