Author: James Ayodele, September 7 2016 - An FAO-led partnership project has helped increase scientific and economic knowledge and understanding about groundwater governance at the global and regional levels but is not sufficiently oriented to national decision-making, says the report of a recent evaluation conducted by the FAO Office of Evaluation.

The evaluation assessed achievements of the Groundwater Governance: A Global Framework for Action project and its potential for sustainability and upscaling. It reviewed, over a period of four months, existing project documents and related reports and interviewed over 40 primary stakeholders and a broader network of stakeholders on water-related issues.

Findings show that despite some shortcomings in their orientation to the intended audiences, almost all of the output level results have been achieved, with significant contribution to the outcomes that aim to increase the knowledge base on groundwater governance.

Stakeholders interviewed expressed strong satisfaction with the project achievements and eulogized the synergy among participating agencies. They said the partnership fostered by the initiative has been a model in collaborative and collective work on groundwater across partner agencies and should serve as the basis for further collaborative work on the issue. 

They however noted that outside the circle of the immediate project partners it is important to involve more non-agricultural water sector stakeholders such as civil society groups, groundwater socio-ecological experts, public sector decision-makers and private sector practitioners in mining, energy and underground construction.

They noted the production of high quality documents during the early years of the project, which they said have helped increase general awareness and understanding of groundwater among key stakeholders. However, considering the politics influencing governance and decision-making for groundwater, they noted the need to increase awareness among policy-makers.

The stakeholders said the mainstreaming of results within partner organizations is an important outcome and a credible, scientific basis for coordinated groundwater governance. Although the project partners are using key messages to support their own work, they believe that additional work is needed in outreach and communication to increase political support for groundwater governance especially at the national level. They suggested that messages should be better tailored to the needs of specific target audiences.

To increase the impact of the initiative and ensure coordinated upscaling, the evaluation further recommends stocktaking of present and potential actions by partner agencies. It agrees with recommendations by partners to broaden membership of the groundwater governance group and progress to a more country-focused implementation phase.

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