World Water Day 2021: development partners must mobilize support to achieve a water secure Africa – World
On World Water Day, we reflect on the impact that the African Development Bank has had over the past decade in this sector through various projects, which help communities across Africa. to protect against the coronavirus.
The African Development Bank is proud to make investments that make a tangible difference and improve the quality of life of African people, in accordance with one of our Top 5 strategic priorities. The water sector is of course a priority given the importance of this natural resource.
The Bank has been recognized for the impact its investments in water are having across Africa. Recently, the Bank won a ‘public’s choice’ water change manufacturer price for a climate resilience project in Zambia, which provided a reliable water supply to a farming community that struggled for years against drought and floods.
The Bank also won the prestigious Prince Talal International Prize for Human Development (link is external) for a water project in the town of Mzimba in Malawi, which has improved the lives of residents in several ways. In addition to the impact on health, 1,000 people have found employment thanks to the project. In addition to this, the project brought a huge social benefit to the women in the community, who had in the past traveled long distances to collect water and were therefore often stuck on the road after dark, leaving them vulnerable to attack.
These projects are just a small sample of the ongoing investments the Bank has made in this crucial sector. Between 2010 and 2020, the Bank invested approximately $ 6.3 billion in water supply and sanitation services. Of this total, 70.8% went to investments in urban areas, catalyzing industrial and commercial developments and building resilience to climate change risks. Just over $ 1.8 billion provided water and sanitation services to communities in rural areas.[*] As a result, about 30 million people in urban areas and nearly 55 million people in rural areas are expected to have access to improved water and sanitation.
Despite the efforts of the Bank and other private and public sectors, financing universal access to water remains a challenge. The sector has historically relied on public finance to meet its investment needs – through concessional funds and / or loans. Institutionally, many parts of the sector are government departments where the mobilization of private finance is almost non-existent. The valuation of water is an essential element of the political agenda, if we are to bend the curve towards a water-secure Africa.
COVID-19 has exposed vulnerabilities caused by underinvestment in water, sanitation and hygiene services, also known as WASH. The Bank’s response in the water sector hinges on better reconstruction to achieve a resilient future capable of withstanding further pandemics and crises. In order to achieve this kind of resilience, we need to coordinate financial resources with other development partners.
It is estimated that only 24% of the sub-Saharan Africa region has access to safely managed drinking water, with more than 150 million people worldwide, most in the region, still using surface water as their primary source. source of drinking water. Almost 750 million people, or 69% of the African population, did not have access to basic sanitation services in 2017. This is a difficult benchmark for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 in Africa.[†].
In collaboration with UN Environment and GRID-Arendal, the Bank recently produced a Atlas of sanitation and wastewater in Africa, which highlights the current situation related to wastewater management and sanitation in Africa, proposing how to fill the gaps to achieve universal access to sanitation.
On World Water Day, the Bank remains committed to helping our regional member countries achieve the goal of water and sanitation for all by 2030.
[*]Approximate USD figures converted using the average SDR – USD exchange rate for the period January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2018 = 0.667797.
[†] UNEP, 2021