The sixth Africa Water Week, which was held in the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salam from 18 to 22 July, highlighted the key challenges that lack of adequate water and proper sanitation has on development and economic growth of African communities and nations.
Speaking at the conference, African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Director for Water and Sanitation, Mohamed El Azizi, noted that currently more than 50 percent of Africa’s population have no access to safe and reliable water and sanitation services. He added that this lack of WaSH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) and water-borne diseases account for the death of an estimated one million Africans each year.
Pointing out that AfDB is in a unique position to help African countries better cope with water and sanitation challenges, the director said, "We have track records in implementing water, sanitation and climate change resilience projects, as well as robust experience in managing dedicated trust funds and tools, including the award-winning African Water Facility, the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative, and African countries can really benefit from our experiences and lessons learnt.”
The African Development Bank is committed to investing in sustainable infrastructure to ensure access to water and sanitation for all, including the most underprivileged. Noting that between 2013 and 2015, projects funded by the AfDB created 116,000 cubic meters of drinking water capacity and that more than six million people benefitted from improved access to water and sanitation, El Azizi said, "Expanding access to clean water and better sanitation is a strategic priority for the AfDB.
The Africa Water Week which aimed to translate the high-level commitments on water security and sanitation into implementation, identified ‘game changers’ and policy shifts needed to reach the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 of ‘Ensuring access to water and sanitation for all’ by 2030.
In this regard, it is commendable that common resolve by Africans to meet the UN’s 2000-2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets on water and sanitation helped about 322 million Africans to gain access to safe drinking water and provided a further 189 million people with improved sanitation.
"To meet SDG6 targets in Africa, realistic and comprehensive financing plans are needed based on the costs of providing both hardware and software components, as well as operations and maintenance to ensure services operate efficiently and sustainably," said Jochen Rudolph, water and sanitation expert, AfDB
Africa Water Week was also an opportunity to explore and identify opportunities for linkages and collaboration across global, regional, and sub-regional monitoring initiatives in order to better track progress on SDG6.