5th World Water Forum, Istanbul – Turkey, March 2009
AfDB Leads Africa’s Regional Participation
Following the successful organization of the 4th World Water Forum process, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has been mandated by the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), the World Water Council and the 5th World Water Forum Secretariat to organize and lead Africa’s regional participation. AfDB has established a Regional Coordination Secretariat which is coordinating and leading the regional preparatory process.
“Bridging divides to achieve Africa’s water vision”, it is on this pathway that Africa goes to the 5th World Water Forum which takes place in Istanbul, Turkey, from March 16 – 22, 2009, on the overarching theme: “Bridging Divides for Water”. The forum serves as a platform for dialogue on global water problems and forges collaboration in seeking sustainable solutions. Five components constitute the forum’s main activities: the Regional Process; the Political Process; the Thematic Process involving discussions on six major themes and 25 sub-themes relating to water security and sanitation in 100 sessions; Fairs; and Youth and Children’s activities.
Africa uses the Forum as a platform to raise awareness of its water issues and challenges; galvanize regional collaboration; and boost global partnership that can support African water resources management agenda. Statistics paint a grim picture for Africa: only about 5.5% of available water resources (about 4000km3/annum) is used in the whole continent; less than 6% of hydropower potential is developed; about 36% of the population lacks access to clean water supply; about 62% lacks access to proper sanitation; per capita water storage is less than 100m3 (about 3500m3 in Europe and 6000m3 in the USA). Over 60 transboundary river basins dominate the African landscape, but weak regional cooperation has limited the benefits to the continent and reduced the effectiveness of water governance necessary for development. Ensuring water security will be the greatest challenge over the coming decades in view of impending water stress and scarcity compounded by hydro-meteorological variation and the impact of climate change.
However, this bleak picture highlighting a weak water and sanitation sector in Africa obscures the fact that African countries have made great strides in water resources management, and continue to take measures that address the water security and sanitation vision. Unfortunately, there is a gap between available financial requirements and the challenges on the ground, resulting in much lower resource allocations than are needed to meet the stated commitments. In the same vein, there is a wide gap between what is required to meet the MDGs and, by extension, the African Water Vision, and the resources that are currently available.
‘Bridging the divide’ for Africa means attaining its shared water vision: “A continent where there is an equitable and sustainable use and management of water resources for poverty alleviation, socio-economic development, regional cooperation, and the environment” (Africa Water Vision 2025). With the active support of the AfDB which hosts its African Water Facility, the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) has taken the mantle of leadership in ensuring progress towards achieving the objectives and targets of the Vision.
As the regional preparatory processes are taking place all over the world ahead of the 5th World Water Forum, AfDB within this framework has set up a Regional Coordination Secretariat (RCS) to manage the day-to-day regional processes. The First African Water Week was held in Tunis in March 2008; and in August 2008, a kick-off workshop also took place in Tunis. The workshop brought together key regional stakeholders to discuss and decide on the content and modalities for Africa’s regional participation. A key component of the regional process is the preparation of a regional report which will include a position paper.
As part of preparations for an African Regional Position Paper, the Bank is leading two consultation workshops to receive input from African water and sanitation actors. The first of these workshops took place in Lusaka, Zambia (Dec. 10 – 13, 2008) for SADC countries. The next one is planned for Accra, Ghana, from Jan. 12 – 14, 2009 for East, West, Central and North Africa. Consultation with AMCOW’s Technical Advisory Committee and the Executive was held in Addis Ababa in October 2008. Regional Coordination and Steering Committee meetings have been scheduled for the last week of January 2009. It is expected that the Regional Position Paper will be approved during this meeting by the Regional Steering Committee before its submission to the secretariat of the 5th World Water Forum.
The AfDB and its Regional Co-ordination Secretariat are mobilizing resources for effective regional representation and supporting various processes for high level engagements of political leadership in Africa, amongst others.
For more information and enquiries, please contact Mr. Andrian Rakotobe, Director, Water & Sanitation Department and African Water Facility, Co-chairman of the Regional Steering Committee and Mr. Tefera Woudeneh, Regional Coordinator.