Leveraging Water Resources to Meet African Needs

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Review African Water Facility Operations

Brazzaville, May 27, 2007 – Members of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the African Water Facility (AWF) representing the five sub-regions of the continent concluded a review of the activities of the Facility in Brazzaville, Congo, at the weekend, emphasizing the compelling need to take action to improve access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation as well as address the wider challenges of integrated water resources management across the continent.

The meeting reviewed the AWF Operations Programme covering the period 2005-2007 based on issues contained in the concept note submitted by the AWF. The meeting preceded the 6th Ordinary Session of the African Ministers Council for Water (AMCOW) scheduled to commence in the Congolese capital on Tuesday May 29, 2007.

"Issues for initial focus in the review process relate to the need to better integrate the AWF with the key areas of emphasis in the water sector emanating from the African Water Vision and Framework for Action, the consensus of the international development community, and the values that are inherent in the design of the Facility," AWF Coordinator, Abdirahman  Beileh, said during a presentation.

The approach, he said, is in line with the AWF operational programme within the framework of priorities defined through regional and international dialogues, and in the rich body of experience and knowledge emerging in the sector, taking into account the specific role carved out for the Facility.

Mr. Henry Ntale, Chairman of the AMCOW Technical Advisory Committee (AMCOW TAC), underscored the importance of the AWF as an AMCOW flagship initiative designed to assist Africa in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the targets of the African Water Vision and Framework for Action. He indicated that the success of the Facility is closely monitored by AMCOW and reiterated the full support and participation of the TAC in the review process.

The AWF is an initiative led by AMCOW to mobilize and apply resources for water in Africa. The Facility assists African countries to meet the targets and goals for the water sector established by the African Water Vision and the MDGs. The AfDB is hosting the AWF on behalf of AMCOW.

The AMCOW TAC-AWF meeting reviewed the strategic goals and objectives of the Facility, its alignment with regional/international consensus and donor initiatives; infrastructure development within the context of NEPAD and the Africa infrastructure consortium; operational areas of intervention such as strengthening water governance as well as meeting urgent water Needs.

The other areas of focus include strengthening the financial base of the facility, improving its knowledge base, its leadership role and action plans; ensuring balance in types of interventions, balance between regions, countries and beneficiaries as well as balance at the project level; refining approaches and project selection criteria; leveraging AWF resources through co-financing, private sector and other funding initiatives; strengthening partnerships and working relationships; the organizational framework and human resources; refining planning and budgeting; updating the results-based management system as well as the revision process and timeline.

In his presentation on the AWF operational programme, the AWF’s Chief Water Operations Officer, Mr. Tefera Woudeneh, disclosed that the focus for trans-boundary water resources management (TWRM)  is centered in nine river basins and three shared aquifers identified in consultation with AMCOW and NEPAD. These are:

  • West Africa: Senegal, Niger,  Volta, 
  • Central Africa: Lake Chad,  Congo
  • East Africa: Nile 
  • Southern Africa: Zambezi, Okavango, Orange/Senqu
  • the Lullemeden Aquifer,
  • Nubian Sandstone aquifer
  • Northern Sahara Aquifer System.

He indicated that 2006 operations focused on support for national and trans-boundary IWRM implementation, project and programme preparation, diagnosis of information and knowledge, short-term and execution studies and small scale investment through synergies with the Bank Group’s interventions and collaboration with other partners. The focal areas include: water supply and sanitation, agriculture, environment as well as multi-purpose water use.

A total of half a billion euros have been earmarked for the five-year indicative financing plan (2005-2009) with 54.04 million euros to finance National internal water resource management (IWRM) support, 55.5 million euros for trans-boundary water resources management (TWRM) support, 376 million euros for project preparation, small scale investment and 14.46 million euros for organisation and administrative costs.

Out of these, the donor community has, so far, committed 59.65 million euros, 19.42 million  euros has already been provided for implementation at the end of 2006.

Currently, the AWF has a total of 19 operational activities approved worth 11.9 million euros with another 37 projects in the pipeline for 2007. Other achievements include strategic operational support provided by the AWF using internal administrative funds; key actions taken to strengthen the AWF; wide outreach and partnership efforts; effective communications and media engagement. The Bank Group has provided strong technical, logistical and administrative support as well as funding for operations support amounting to 900,000 Euro.

After the day-long discussions, the TAC members provided useful guidance on how to proceed in revising the operations program.

Representatives of AMCOW-TAC from Algeria, Burkina Faso, Congo, DRC, Egypt, Ghana, Lesotho, Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda participated in the review.