AfDB to Launch ‘Water Sector Governance in Africa’ Report

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Better Governance Can Turn on  Tap for Cleaner, Safer Water

Tunis, 22 November 2010 – Poor governance in the water sector prevents millions of Africans from getting clean, safe drinking water and adequate, reliable sanitation, ten years into the 21st century, says a new report by the African Development Bank (AfDB). This situation prevails despite numerous and rigorous technical, financial, economic and institutional assessments in support of investment s in water and sanitation projects in Africa.

The ‘Water Sector Governance in Africa’ report, to be launched during the 3rd African Water Week in Addis Ababa on 23 November 2010, takes early steps to investigate whether poor governance has been a major contributory factor to the lack of sustainability in the African water sector.

The report identifies numerous but common governance risks, and shows that these are easily identifiable and preventable. It also finds that substantial gains would be made if government assessments became standard procedure and if governance criteria were introduced in donor project approval procedures.

The report notes: “While local and national institutions have the most visible role to play in governing the water sector, it is the sector’s underlying policies, legislation and regulations that provide the foundation for overall governance”.

Tom Roberts, who coordinated the study, explains further: “Some of the key roles that sector institutions and organizations need to fulfill in developing and carrying out the underlying legislation, policies and regulations include strategic policy-making and planning for water and related sectors; conflict resolution and arbitration, and the regulation and monitoring of water users and service providers.  The report addresses each of these roles and the various related approaches and principles individually”.

Bobby J. Pitman, AfDB Vice-President for Infrastructure, Private Sector and Regional Integration, adds: “Contemporary literature on water sector financing understandably focuses on the mechanisms and challenges associated with funding tangible water supply and sanitation services. Our new study, however, draws attention to the importance of financing overarching water management and governance functions, from strategy, planning and policy-making and engagement with sector shareholders to water resource development, allocation and management”.

The report led to the development of indicators and targets to add to efforts at improving governance in Africa’s water sector. Volume 1 of the report on “Theory and Practice” introduces the findings’ indicators and targets while Volume 2 presents concrete “Assessment Guidelines” for conducting water sector governance assessments for African programs and projects.

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