A four-day leadership retreat on risk based regulation in water resource management was held in Arusha, Tanzania from 11th – 14th June 2018. The retreat was attended by eighteen of Tanzania’s senior WRM professionals, supported by experts from Tanzania, Kenya and the UK, and co-hosted by the NGOs Shahidi wa Maji, Water Witness International and the Environmental Compliance Institute (ECI).
Effective management of water resources is central to delivering Tanzania’s economic and social development goals, and for the wellbeing, peace and prosperity of its people. The Water Resource Management Act of 2009 and National Water Policy of 2002 provide a world class policy and legal platform through which the Ministry of Water and Irrigation can deliver water security for all, and over the past 15 years multiple donor support initiatives have focused on strengthening the nine Basin Water Boards, which have primary responsibility for implementation. However, they have struggled to implement the regulatory framework, which uses water use permits and discharge licences to manage water use, and as such, water resource depletion, degradation and conflict are on the rise.
The break on economic and human development caused by inadequate water resource regulation is already being seen across the basins, and these will become more severe and widespread in the future unless action is taken now. In part, difficulties in implementation are a result of an imbalance between the large regulatory workload and the limited human and financial resources available to the Basins. Advocacy efforts are on-going to increase financing for water resource management (WRM) to adequate and sustainable levels commensurate with its importance to the national economy. However, there is also an opportunity to work smarter within existing resourcing constraints. This opportunity is ‘risk-based’ regulation.
Risk-based regulation (RBR) allows water managers to prioritise limited regulatory resources on the most strategically important issues. It has delivered more effective WRM in several countries, including in the UK and Kenya. Ranking of water uses and water user performance based on their potential to cause negative impacts on health, poverty, ecosystems and economic growth, helps target regulatory processes to manage high risks effectively. For example, water use permit and discharge licence determination, compliance inspections, monitoring, enforcement and incident response can be tailored more efficiently, so that the issues of greatest importance receive appropriate levels of effort, scrutiny and oversight by the BWBs.