Origins and purpose
In 2008 a group of scientists and development practitioners founded Water Witness International to carry out research, take action and advocate for better water resource management. Having worked on water issues all over the world and for many years we saw a clear opportunity to craft new solutions to tackle the world’s spiralling water resource challenges. Business-as-usual approaches by governments, donors, the private sector and NGOs weren’t working, and in some cases they were part of the problem. We envisaged a new type of NGO. One led by water resource managers with hands on experience of water politics and practice, providing on the ground, people centred action, cutting-edge research and targeted advocacy.
Our theory of change towards a fairer, more secure water future is based on our conviction that:
- People power or, citizen agency can activate water law and improve water security for all. Helping communities to understand their rights, demand action and hold water managers to account plays a vital but neglected role in better water governance. Our innovative work on social accountability monitoring drives pro-poor activation of water policy and law.
- Engagement with the private sector is central to ensuring a fair water future. Working constructively with businesses, harnessing the reach of markets and demand for ethical production can drive sustainable resource use alongside economic and social progress. This is why Water Witness International has been instrumental in the theoretical and practical evolution of corporate water stewardship.
- Governments need to deliver on their responsibilities for water resource management. Government agencies need adequate funds, well-trained staff and political authority in order to manage water for the benefit of society now and in future. We work to improve policy and action on water, and support smarter delivery through advice, training and oversight. We also challenge and help donors and NGOs to plan and deliver more effective aid.
We also see a cross-cutting need for improved knowledge and communication on water. We contribute by linking local voices and ‘on the ground’ evidence to national and global debates, by ensuring rigor, reflection and learning, and by getting the right information to the right people in the right ways.
By testing and developing our approach over the last five years we have grown into a dynamic organisation with global reach at the forefront of delivering positive change in the way water is managed.
It is clear that achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals will be contingent on our collective ability to allocate, protect and use freshwater in ways which avoid depletion, degradation, conflict and vulnerability to climate change. We therefore believe that we can make an important and unique contribution to fulfilling the promise of the SDGs. Of course, we can only do this - and can only realise our vision - by working in partnership, and so we invite you to feedback and to collaborate with us in working towards a fair water future for all.
Dr. Nick Hepworth, Executive Director, Water Witness International