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Coordinate across regions to address water challenges that cross administrative borders


Coordinate across regions to address water challenges that cross administrative borders

Coordinate across regions to address water challenges that cross administrative borders

Posted on January 17, 2020 by Lillian Holmes

Authoring Organizations: Pacific Institute
Consulting Organizations: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Universal: No
Applicable Phases: Prepare
Last Updated Jul 18, 2024


Water challenges, even when experienced locally, often require solutions that address a greater catchment area. If a project is implemented locally, it may be unable to address the source of the problem. When scoping a project, anticipate both the hydrological and administrative boundaries of the water challenge, and consider expanding the partnership to engage other regions if necessary.


Environmental impacts cross administrative borders. For example, bad actors may pollute upstream water bodies if environmental compliance is less enforced, even when the consequences are felt by a much wider population downstream of the pollution. Through joint efforts across regions, environmental protection can be better enforced, preventing issues such as pollution from migrating to other locations in the watershed. Furthermore, the project is more likely to be sustainable when all those who benefit from the resource are engaged in its protection.


  • If cost is perceived as a barrier to joint engagement, consider that joint action may be the only strategy that is able to address the issue. A failed project may also yield high costs and wasted effort.
  • When scoping the project, identify the water resource management boundary for the problem and design a solution that works for these boundaries, not simply the local administrative boundaries where the problem is currently being experienced.


In Uganda’s Kiiha watershed, a partnership between GIZ IWaSP, DWRM, Kinyara Sugar Ltd and Ugandan NGO EcoTrust represented both business and local interests to address issues of wetland degradation near Kinyara’s plantations. Members of the local community had begun using the wetlands for agriculture. During previous efforts to protect the wetlands, the community members using harmful agricultural practices would simply move to areas with less enforcement on environmental protection. The partnership created joint efforts between the districts of Masindi and Hoima to tackle the problem of wetland degradation across the entire area, which was more successful than previous efforts. As one project leader described the issue, “If one district is against encroachers, they go to the next district. Through the partnership there was a common goal that compelled both districts to prevent encroachment.” This joint approach contributed to the project’s success.

Projects that have validated this Lesson

None found.

This lesson learned reflects the beliefs and experiences of the author, not necessarily the Pacific Institute, CEO Water Mandate, or UN Global Compact.