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Addis Ababa, January 30, 2008 – The international community must include water among its top priorities, the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group President, Donald Kaberuka, said on the sidelines of the 10th African Union Ordinary Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Mr. Kaberuka met with the Prince Willem-Alexander of Orange, Netherlands, in his capacity as the Chair of the United Nations Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB). Mr. Kaberuka reaffirmed the Bank Group’s determination to build its partnerships in the water sector around concrete actions aimed at producing meaningful results in the short term.
It is important to identify some catalytic development sectors that can contribute to the attainment of many Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). "Water could be one of such catalysts," President Kaberuka said. Investments in the water and sanitation sectors could, in effect, result in a series of improvements in the population’s health conditions (rapid and vast decline in infant mortality, a drop in water-related diseases, etc), empowerment of women and children (an end to water-related chores), the creation of income-generating activities, an increase in school enrolment, and population settlement.
Several initiatives capable of generating rapid results could therefore be launched, Mr. Kaberuka said, adding that the Bank Group’s education projects now underscore the importance of sanitation just like information technology. The idea of improving sanitation in the poorest neighborhoods supported by the Netherlands falls within the framework of this principle, Mr. Kaberuka stressed. He used the occasion to call for an increase in private initiatives.
In order to put water and sanitation at the top of development priorities, the African Development Bank Group has increased the number of initiatives aimed at enabling African countries to include water and sanitation in their national development strategies. The Prince of Orange congratulated the Bank Group on the organization of the first African Water Week scheduled to take place from March 25-26, 2008, in Tunis. Many African ministers have already confirmed their participation in the upcoming water week which is proof of the interest many African countries have in this sector.
AfDB donor countries have manifested their awareness of the importance of this sector with a US$ 9 billion record replenishment of the African Development Fund (ADF), the concessional arm of the Bank Group, for the period 2008-2010, a 52% increase from the previous replenishment. A large portion of these resources will be earmarked for infrastructure projects, especially in the water and sanitation sector. These additional investments in the water sector will enable the Bank Group to reinforce its position as a continental leader in the sector.