Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)
Water is one of Earth's most valuable resources and will remain vital for future generations. The sustainable management of water resources is therefore one of the major challenges for the future and plays a key role in realisation of the Millennium Development Goals.
In all its development activities in the water sector, Germany adheres to the internationally agreed model of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
At the heart of this approach is a focus on the social framework and the ecosystem as a whole. The aim is to balance demands from different sources in an integrated process, involving all water users and thereby achieving the greatest consensus possible.
The water resources management system takes account of all usage interests and activities – including transregional and trans-sectoral ones – that could affect the hydrological region. In the context of a project for supplying potable water this could mean, for example, that it is necessary to take into consideration any existing hydropower plants, anti-erosion measures and forest conservation along the upper reaches of a river, the contamination of water and soil by waste and general land-use planning.
The key objectives of IWRM include the sustainable use of water resources, peaceful resolution of water conflicts, affordable access to potable water for the poor, and the prevention of diseases caused by polluted water.
The approach requires a united effort at national and international level if it is to be put into action. Its component strategies address issues from the lowest appropriate level, extending up to government policy. The water users are always directly involved.