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Spotlight on “Water for Africa”, the new African water initiative launched with AfDB support
On Saturday, November 11, 2017, the day after the Global Water Action Day that marked the fourth day of COP23, the “Water for Africa” initiative was the subject of a presentation in the Morocco Pavilion, open to civil society organizations.
“Water for Africa” was established under the auspices of an African COP, COP22 held in Marrakech, at the initiative of Morocco and with the blessing of the African Development Bank, which immediately offered its support.
The Moroccan Secretary of State for Water, Charafat Afilal; the Director of the Water Sciences Division and Secretary of the International Hydrological Programme at UNESCO, Blanca Jiménez-Cisneros, who is also a member of the World Water Council; and Jean-Michel Ossete, Coordinator of the African Water Facility at the African Development Bank (AfDB), jointly chaired this presentation of the initiative, which was celebrating its first anniversary.
“The African Development Bank joined with this initiative from the outset with all the necessary goodwill,” said Afilal, expressing her gratitude to the partners who had committed to it. She particularly emphasized the intensive work done upstream to avoid any risk of duplication with initiatives already ongoing in the sector. Just one year after its inception, the initiative already has a portfolio of 10 or so projects across the continent.
“In Marrakech, when we committed to have this initiative in operation by COP23 in Bonn, it seemed impossible,” said African Water Facility Coordinator Jean-Michel Ossete. “But we really have met the challenge.” Ossete went on to add that the African Development Bank had quickly and “unhesitatingly” decided to fund the recruitment of an expert with international renown for in-depth knowledge of the challenges of this sector in Africa, in order to ensure the quality of the paper presenting this African initiative.
Evidence of the Pan-African scope of “Water for Africa” and the membership it generates, the African Ministers' Council on Water (AMCOW) did not hesitate to endorse it either. Present at this session, former AMCOW Executive Bai Mass Taal also rejoiced, in his address, that water was now at the heart of COP: "At the Copenhagen COP, or even at Cancun, when I talked about water they looked at me as though I was a Martian!"
In order to better highlight progress under the initiative, Ossete set out the steps that would soon follow and which would scale it up: from November 24 to 28, AMCOW would be celebrating its 15th anniversary in Abuja, Nigeria. This would also be the first AMCOW meeting to be attended by Morocco, in its capacity as spearhead for the “Water for Africa” initiative. Bamako is then set to host, by mid-January 2018, the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) – benefiting from the African Development Bank's support – gathered to take stock of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) on the continent. This will be followed, at World Water Day on March 22, by a meeting for all the actors involved from the 54 African countries, funding institutions in the water and climate sector and the regional economic communities, as an opportunity to raise awareness of the “Water for Africa” initiative and to roll it out over the entire continent.
COP23, which opened on November 6, 2017 in Bonn, closes on November 17. While Germany is hosting the event for logistical reasons, this edition is chaired by Fiji, a Pacific archipelago for which climate change is a pressing reality, imperiled as it is by rising sea levels and extreme weather events, such as hurricanes.
The event is being attended by a delegation of experts from the African Development Bank, including specialists in climate change, in negotiation, in the water and sanitation sector, in agriculture, urbanization and sustainable cities.
About the African Water Facility (AWF)
The AWF is an initiative of the African Ministers' Council on Water (AMCOW), hosted and administered by the African Development Bank (AfDB). Created in 2004 as a special fund, it is intended to help African countries to achieve the goals set out in the Africa Water Vision for 2025. The AWF makes grants of €50,000 to €5 million to a broad range of organisations and institutions operating in Africa, to support projects that fit with its mission and strategy.
On average, every euro invested by the AWF has attracted an additional €35 in additional investment. The AWF is funded by Algeria, Australia, Austria, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Burkina Faso, Canada, Denmark, the European Commission, France, the Nordic Development Fund, Norway, Senegal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the African Development Bank. The AWF is governed by an external Board of Directors representing the 16 donors, UN-Water Africa, the African Union via the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), AMCOW and AfDB.