Water Security Project​

IWRA recognizes ongoing global water security issues as a major challenge, and addresses them in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals in close collaboration with international organisations and key partners.

Why Focus on Water Security?

Water security could be narrowly defined as a measure of the reliability and availability of water supplies needed to meet human demands. However, this definition is insufficient as it excludes the broad range of issues and complexities inherent in assessing water security. The age-old approach of locating and developing water supplies to meet human demands is being replaced with the reality that human demands must be managed and that accessing water supplies must be done in a manner that includes consideration for biodiversity as well as human needs and wants.

Water security therefore encompasses aspects of science, planning, management, infrastructure, and risk assessment pertaining to water quality and quantity on a watershed and/or aquifer scale. Since water is inter-connected with human health and wellness, food supplies, energy supplies, the economic viability of industry, as well as sustained biodiversity, the challenges of assessing water security become apparent. Addressing these challenges frequently includes addressing trans-boundary issues, equity considerations and competing values. Mitigating risks to water security includes waste management practices to ensure the protection of water quality and other measures to protect water quantity characteristics, such as seasonal flow rates in a river for example.

In its 2013 report, Water Security & the Global Water Agenda, UN-Water defines water security as “the capacity of a population to safeguard sustainable access to adequate quantities of acceptable quality water for sustaining livelihoods, human well-being, and socio-economic development, for ensuring protection against water-borne pollution and water-related disasters, and for preserving ecosystems in a climate of peace and political stability”. IWRA’s working definition for water security is that it entails securing a safe and reliable water supply for people and the environment, now and in the future.

New challenges to water security are emerging since climate change is manifesting through the water cycle, resulting in dramatic changes in precipitation patterns on local to continental scales.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) International Hydrology Programme (IHP) program plan for 2014-2021 has placed an emphasis on water security, which is consistent with UNESCO’s eight-year Medium-term Strategy (2014-2021). According to the World Bank, “water is crucial in determining whether the world will achieve the sustainable development goals”.

The Global Water Security Issues Paper Series

There is an urgent need to conduct research on emerging and future global water security issues in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals. To document relevant research on water security issues, UNESCO Headquarters and UNESCO i-WSSM (International Centre for Water Security and Sustainable Management) are annually co-publishing the Global Water Security Issues (GWSI) Paper Series. IWRA is assisting with the GWSI Paper Series publication.

Given the complexity and range of the topic of water security, a theme is selected each year to provide a focus for the GWSI Paper Series. In 2019, the theme was: Water Reuse within a Circular Economy ContextAccess this publication with leading contributions from IWRA by clicking here!

IWRA Task Force on Water Security

The IWRA has convened a panel of experts from among its membership to assist in the GWSI Paper Series review and to address other water security issues relevant to IWRA projects. After an open call to IWRA members to join a Water Security Task Force, a group of 12 panellists was selected. These panellists include: Hassan Tolba Aboelnga, Emmanuel Akpabio, Amali Abraham Amali, Amgad Elmahdi, Jan Hofman, Muhammad Wajid Ijaz, Wendy Jepson, William R. Jones, Kanokphan Jongjarb, Amrisha Pandey and Maya Velis.

Click on the names below for more information on the panellists with brief biographical descriptions:

Hassan Aboelnga is originally from Egypt, and based in Cologne, Germany.  Aboelnga is renowned young water professional in issues of water security, climate change and sustainable development. Aboelnga is a civil engineer by profession and is currently a PhD researcher at University of Kassel and TH Köln, University of Applied Sciences with a particular interest in urban water security and integrated water resources management. Eng. Aboelnga is a certified project management professional (PMP)®, management committee member of intermittent water supply and water safety plans specialists groups at International Water Association – IWA and advisory board member at Middle East Water Forum MEWF. He is the former board member of World Youth Parliament for Water and he has been an active member of many international networks in issues of water, climate and sustainable development. Aboelnga holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Mansoura University, and postgraduate studies from Cairo University, Egypt. He has two masters in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) from two universities, Cologne University of Applied Sciences (TH Köln) in Germany and University of Jordan. He has gained valuable international experiences in IWRM approach that offers interdisciplinary solutions to the water crisis in linking water to other vital resources and viewing the whole water cycle together with human interventions as the basis for sustainable water management. Aboelnga has published /coauthored many articles, reports, blog articles, books including Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus for policy makers and 3rd State of Water Report in the Arab region. Media links with more information include:
International Water Association: https://iwa-network.org/people/hassan-aboelnga
Middle East Water Forum: www.mewf.de/advisory-boards/pmp-eng-hassan-tolba-aboelnga
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/hassan-a-50243440
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Hassan_Water

Emmanuel Akpabio is a geographer PhD (1st Class Hons, 1999), holding an academic position in the Department of Geography and Natural Resources Management, University of Uyo, Nigeria, and currently serving as a MARIE SKŁODOWSKA-CURIE Fellow, Department of Geography, Dundee, United Kingdom (2018-Present) – also collaborating as a Visiting Scientist with the ‘Scottish Government Water Industry Team’ at Edinburgh. Emmanuel Akpabio was a Commonwealth (CSC) scholar, Lancaster University, UK (2004-2006); British Academy Fellow, Newcastle University, UK (2008); Alexander von Humboldt (AvH) Fellow/Senior Researcher, Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Germany (2011-2012); a Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Fellow/visiting Professor with the Disaster Prevention and Research Institute (DPRI), Kyoto University, Japan (2013-2015); and a Visiting Research Associate, African Studies Centre, University of Oxford (July-August 2014). Akpabio has served in International Panels, including a member in the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) Alumni Advisory Panel (2019-2021), and the Akwa Ibom State coordinator, Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows Alumni of Nigeria (COSFAN- 2018 to present). Emmanuel Akpabio was one of the Directors in the IWRA Executive Board (2013-2015), and one of the members in the International Scientific Steering Committee for the XV World Water Congress held at Edinburgh, United Kingdom (2015). Akpabio speaks Ibibio, English and little of German and Japanese. He loves music, reading, travelling and his favourite sports are Karate and Taekwondo.

Amali Abraham Amali is a Soil and Water Engineer, currently finalising his graduate program in Integrated Water Resources Management with the Institute for Technology and Resources Management in the Tropics and Subtropics (ITT) TH-Köln, University of Applied Sciences.  He has high affinity with objective analysis of meteorological processes by integrating hydrological models, real-time measurement data in information systems to identify trends, and evaluate options for implementing solutions. With proven practical experience in telemetry integration, graphic user interface, and hydro-database for water resources monitoring using impact-based forecasting, he is currently evaluating spatial and temporal water productivity by translating remotely sensed data to performance indicators that identifies management options across irrigation plots in the Azraq Basin, Jordan. Amali is also passionate about capacity development of young professionals in the water sector. He is currently both the Coordinator of the ICID Young Professionals Forum and the African Young Water Professionals Forum where he organises and coordinates training programs and workshops for over 1000 Young Professionals with interest or experience in Agricultural Water Management. He is an early stage researcher, a member of Elsevier Advisory Panel and has co-authored more than 5 papers.  More information can be found at www.linkedin.com/in/amali-amali 

Dr. Ximing Cai is a Lovell Endowed Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He holds a B.S. in Water Resources Engineering (1990) and a M.S. in Hydrology and Water Resources (1994) from Tsinghua University, China, and a Ph.D. in Water Resources Engineering (1999) from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a Fellow of American Geophysical Union (AGU), a member of Science Board of International Water Resources Association (IWRA), and former editor of Water Resources Research (AGU, 2012-2017). His current research areas include coupled human-natural system analysis with an emphasis of human interferences in hydrological processes, water-energy-food system modeling, and sustainable water resources management. He has worked as a consultant with the World Bank, United Nations, and other national and international agencies.

Dr. Amgad Elmahdi is the Director of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Office of the International Water Management Institute. Dr Elmahdi has over 20 years of working experience in the fields of hydrology, natural resource management, water accounting and assessment and water information management in operational, research, and academic agencies in Australia, Greece, Italy, China and Egypt. He holds a PhD in Water Resource Management from the University of Melbourne, Australia, 2 M.Sc. in Land & Water Management from Italy and Egypt with around 100 publications on water related issues and tools. He is also a recognized International Water and Natural Resources Management Expert and the Australian representative for international agencies- ICID- International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage. Dr Elmahdi’s mission is to provide evidence-based science solutions to sustainably manage water and land resources for water and food security, people’s livelihoods and the environment. Before joining IWMI; Dr Elmahdi was a senior executives public officer, leading the Water Resources Section, Australia: where he managed and led a four multi-disciplinary teams responsible for delivering high profile government and organisation objectives 1) Water resources modelling, 2) Groundwater, 3) Urban Water, and 4) Water Analysis to provide water information services across Australia using data collected by about 200 water management agencies and utilities across Australia. These services were formulated the key element of water reforms to provide secure access to water, to address over allocation, and to provide efficient allocation of water through water markets, pricing and other means. He has received a number of awards nationally and internationally for his Science Impact for Landscape Water modelling and Strategic Excellence Award for Partnership and Watsaving award. More info: www.linkedin.com/in/drelmahdi

Professor Jan Hofman is Professor of Water Science and Engineering in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Bath and has a part-time position at KWR Water Research Institute in The Netherlands as Principal Scientist. In Bath, he is the Director of the Water Innovation and Research Centre at the University. The Centre is a campus-wide environment to engage globally in research and policy on water. The centre (~50 academics) comprises multidisciplinary research teams, with contribution from all faculties and departments. It has wide expertise in the natural sciences and engineering, as well as in social, economic and political sciences, in policy, and in business management. Jan is also co-Director of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Water Informatics Science and Engineering, co-Director of the NERC Centre for Doctoral Training in Freshwater Biosciences and Sustainability, and co-Director of the GW4 Water Security Alliance. Furthermore, he is Leader of the Working Groups on Urban Water Pollution and Urban Water Security in Water Europe. Water Security is one of Jan’s research interests. His research is focussing on water security in urban areas in sub-Saharan Africa. In collaboration with KWR, UNESCO-IHP, IWA and OECD he is developing a platform for baseline assessment of sustainable water management and governance in cities, and roadmaps for creating bankable projects.

Dr. Muhammad Wajid Ijaz has been working in the Environmental Protection Agency, Pakistan, since 2011. He holds a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Water and has various technical publications to his credit. Muhammad holds a M.Sc. degree in Water Resources Engineering from the Center of Excellence in Water Resources Engineering, Lahore with a background in agricultural engineering. Recently, he has developed a multi-sensor based framework for the integrated assessment of landscape evolution under regulated fluvial regimes and its effect over hydrogeomorphology and water quality of the Indus Delta system. He also takes part in outreach activities from the platform of Society of Water Managers, Youth Parliament of Pakistan, Radio Pakistan and special writings in the national newspapers.

Dr. Wendy Jepson holds a University Professorship in the Department of Geography at Texas A&M University where she has been on faculty since receiving her Ph.D. in Geography from UCLA in 2003. Since 2016, Dr. Jepson has been a Visiting Professor at the Federal University of Ceará, Fortaleza (Brazil). Dr. Jepson leads several research projects and institutional initiatives on water security.  Dr. Jepson was a recent Fulbright Scholar (2016-2017) and AAAS Leshner Fellow for Public Engagement (2018-2019).  She also is a recipient of several National Science Foundation grants that focus on water security – examining different aspects of water insecurity in south Texas colonias and urban Brazil.  Dr. Jepson leads the NSF-funded Household Water Insecurity Experiences – Research Coordination Network (HWISE-RCN), an international community of scholars and practitioners dedicated to advance research and work in the interdisciplinary field of water insecurity.  Dr. Jepson also is the principal investigator for a $1.5M Texas A&M University Presidential Excellence Grant, “Pathways to Sustainable Urban Water Security: Desalination and Water Reuse.” She has generated over $3 million in grants and awards as lead PI from NSF, private sources, and internal awards to support her research agenda. 

Dr. William R. Jones was appointed as Principal Deputy Director for Food Safety Science and Policy at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) in May 2019. In this capacity, Dr. Jones’ oversight includes interoffice leadership and management of food safety science, policy and international initiatives as well as leadership development, succession planning and program review. Dr. Jones joined CFSAN in 2001, originally serving as the center’s expert on aquaculture, then as Chief of the Policy Guidance Branch in the Office of Seafood, subsequently serving as the director of several different divisions within the center and covering a range of responsibilities including seafood safety, biotechnology, natural products, compliance and enforcement issues. After becoming Deputy Director of the Office of Food Safety, he served as the Office Director before receiving his current appointment. Prior to joining FDA, Dr. Jones was on the faculty of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Department of Medicine at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. He subsequently served as a faculty member then administrator as Senior Scientist and Head of Educational Programs at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, Center of Marine Biotechnology (now IMET). He also has experience in the private sector as a founder and owner of four successful businesses, including an applied biotechnology consulting firm, a healthcare facility, and a food, drug and cosmetic retailer.  He co-founded an ongoing environmental biotechnology research and manufacturing company, AthenaES, serving as President and as Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for eight years before joining the USFDA. He received his B.A. in Biology, magna cum laude, from Towson University along with French (2ND Degree) and minors in Chemistry and English. He received his Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Maryland and conducted post-doctoral research at the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine. In 2019, he received the inaugural FDA/CFSAN William R. Jones Cultural Legacy Award, “For enduring commitment to the continuous improvement of the work life and productivity of fellow employees to the overall benefit of the well-being, morale and outward appearance of the entire organization.”

Kanokphan Jongjarb is a Graduate Student in the Joint M.Sc. Program, Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security at the United Nation University – Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and the University of Bonn, specialized in Loss & Damage. She has more than a decade of research experience working on projects in Southeast Asia. Kanokphan holds a M.Sc. in Gender & Development Studies (GDS) from the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand. During that time, she was part of a larger project entitled, ‘Adapting to Climate Change-induced Water Stress in Peri-urban Southeast Asia’. For five years, she served as a research consultant for the department of Gender and Development Studies, AIT where she had opportunities to be part of several gender-related projects with specific focus on a vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, women’s economic empowerment, migration, and the peace process. Kanokphan has been actively involved with the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) – World Water Week as a member of the Young Scientific Programme Committee in 2017, then as a full member of the Scientific Programme Committee in 2019 for the implementation of the gender and water seminar.

Dr Amrisha Pandey is enrolled as a lawyer in Indian Bar Council with a lifetime membership. She completed her BA LLB (Hons) in 2011 from the Bhopal University in India and held a Diploma in Dispute Management from Indian Institute of Arbitration and Mediation, Cochin. Later, she moved to the United Kingdom for higher studies. She holds a master’s degree titled ‘LLM in International Environmental Law’ (2012) from the School of Law, University of Nottingham, (U.K.). She recently finished her PhD from School of Law, University of Leeds in the U.K. The topic of her research is ‘Regulation of Freshwater and the Access to Right to Water in India’. Since early 2019, she has had the opportunity to work in a City-consultancy firm based in  London, providing legal advice and research assistance in matters concerning public international law. She participated in Summer Courses on Public International Law in 2017 held in The Hague Academy of International Law, and generously funded by The City of Hague, Netherlands. She is shaping to be an international law scholar with her remarkable presence and academic contribution in international conferences and forums. Her passion for water law in particular has given her the opportunity at an early stage of research career to be involved as the panel member of the IWRA Task Force on Water Quality.

Mary Trudeau is a professional engineer specializing in water resources, urban infrastructure and climate adaptation.

She is assisting IWRA on the topic of Water Security and is a member of the IWRA Smart Water Management Task Force.

Dr. Trudeau also works as a consultant providing policy and program advice on a range of water, climate adaptation and strategic issues to government and non-government organizations and she is a part time professor at the University of Ottawa.

She has extensive hands-on experience in the management of water infrastructure and watershedmonitoring.

Prior to consulting, she managed various water infrastructure portfolios for a municipal government over a 15 year period, including responsibilities for potable water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, as well a surface water monitoring program and an accredited analytical laboratory.

She is a published author in the Journal of Hydrology and the Ecohydrology Journal, among others. Dr. Trudeau has successfully managed large, multi-disciplinary teams, public advisory committees, multi-stakeholder technical advisory committees, and staff groups of up to 70 persons.

She holds Bachelor Degrees in Applied Science (Civil Engineering) and English Literature, a Master of Science (Environment and Management) and a PhD in Physical Geography (Hydrology).

Maya Velis is an advisor at the science-policy interface, with advanced degrees in both law and environmental science and years of experience in public policy at the Dutch department of Infrastructure and Water Management. Her tenure included visiting positions with the foreign service and the national policy unit on climate policy in the European Union. Prior to that, she conducted applied research the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre hosted by UNESCO-IHE. Reliable access to fresh water is one of the enablers of development across all scales: it is crucial to an individual’s quality of life, agricultural and industrial productivity, and even international peace and stability.  Ever since conducting field work in Luzon, the Philippines in 2012, Maya Velis has been addressing the issue of water security. She has published on the linkage between groundwater security and human development in the context of the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In addition, she has international experience with interdisciplinary design studies for sustainable, context-appropriate drinking water and sanitation systems in rural areas.


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