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MDGs : the AfDB Sets Example in Water and Sanitation Sector


Africa may not reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on water and sanitation, says a report by the United Nations System presented to the African Union Summit which opened on Monday, June 30, 2008, in Sharm El Cheikh, Egypt. Providing highlights of the report, the African Union Commissioner in Charge of Rural Economy and Agriculture said only 41% of the continent’s population would have access to water in 2015, if current trends continue. Only some 68% of Africans will have access to sanitation in 2015, she said on the sidelines of the summit which was held on the theme: "Meeting the Millennium Development Goals on Water and Sanitation."

The Bank Group’s Leading Role

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group President, Donald Kaberuka, underscored the institution’s interest in expanding access to water and sanitation by participating in the Sharm El Cheikh Summit. The Bank is looking to expanding access to safe drinking water on the continent to 46% by 2010 through the mobilization of some US$4.5 billion.

According to the AfDB Water and Sanitation Director, Andrianarison Rakotobé, the Bank Group’s objective in this domain had been clearly defined with the launch in 2003 of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI). Seventeen RWSSI programmes are expected to lead to an additional 33 million Africans have access to water and sanitation. Encouraged by the positive results of the first phase of the initiative, the AfDB is looking to launching the second phase in order to continue developing water and sanitation infrastructure on the continent, especially in rural areas. Efforts made in favor of the institution’s regional member countries (RMCs) within the framework of RWSSI are being complemented by other initiatives within the framework of the African Water Facility (AWF), an ad-hoc fund managed by the Bank Group. Since its launch in 2004, the AWF has financed water supply projects, supported water basin organizations (Nil, Niger, Mano…) and participated in building technical capacity in water and sanitation through workshops and seminars.

In agreement with the African Water Ministers Council (AMCOW), the Bank Group hosted the First African Water Week in Tunis in March 2008. Participants at the water week made recommendations to the African Union Summit in Sharm El Cheikh while reaffirming water’s strategic role in the attainment of MDGs.

Cross-cutting Issue

For the Bank Group, the priority given to increasing access to water and sanitation stems from the need to give the continent more chances to reach the MDGs. Resolving water-related issues in rural areas is giving women more time for them to undertake income-generating activities. It also implies giving them the opportunity to use the time they would have devoted to fetching water to their children’s education and health. Socio-economic problems resulting from the absence of water and sanitation on the continent are estimated at several billions of Euros each year. Poverty reduction on the continent, like access to education and health, requires the resolution of the issue of access to water. This requires a holistic approach and the AfDB lays special emphasis on the issue and it is investing significantly in the sector.

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