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As International Community Observes World Water Day: The AfDB Reaffirms Commitment to Water Development
The statement noted that despite the central role water plays in national development and poverty reduction, the water sector in Africa is severely underdeveloped, with only 3% of the total renewable water resources exploited for water supply, agriculture and industrial use each year. As a result, nearly 50%, or over 300 million mostly poor people living in rural, peri-urban and urban areas, do not have access to safe water supply and adequate sanitation facilities. This situation undermines human dignity, contributes to the poor health statistics in the continent and exacerbates many of the region’s current social, economic and political problems. The lack of access to water and sanitation services is a poverty trap as efforts to improve the lot of the un-served population are frustrated by frequent illnesses and the imperative of spending inordinate amounts of time and money meeting their potentially affordable basic needs.
It is in the light of these challenges that the Bank has focused on water resources as one of its major priority areas and has developed some major regional initiatives designed to provide basic water needs and other related water services to its member countries. These initiatives include:
- The Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI), which aims to provide about 300 million people with water and sanitation services by the year 2015 to achieve 80% access to these basic services;
- The African Water Facility (AWF), developed under the leadership of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), and housed by the Bank. The AWF will support efforts to create or strengthen a sound institutional environment and build the capacity required for an effective and efficient management and development of water resources;
- The NEPAD Water Sector Programme which aims to strengthen trans-boundary water resources management within the framework of economic integration and regional cooperation enshrined in the NEPAD Charter.
In a bid to operationalise the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative, the AfDB will be organising an international conference on water supply and sanitation in Paris on 1 April 2005, in collaboration with the French government. The conference will seek to galvanise international consensus around the Initiative with the view to attaining the Millennium Development Goal for water supply and sanitation in rural Africa. It is expected that the conference will adopt a common framework based on the key principles of the Initiative, promote a substantial scaling up of investments in rural water and sanitation and enhance aid coordination at the regional and local levels.