Brazzaville, 1 June 2007 - The African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) on Thursday in Brazzaville concluded two days of exhaustive deliberations on the challenges posed by Africa’s dwindling water resources and the urgent need for equitable and sustainable management of the continent’s water resources."We, the ministers responsible for water in Africa, are convinced that the equitable and sustainable management of water is, and must remain the top challenge for the foreseeable future of our continent," AMCOW said in a statement issued at the end of its sixth ordinary session on Thursday in Brazzaville. "We remain convinced that for Africa, it is imperative that we achieve, by 2015-2025, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on water and sanitation," the ministers emphasized.
The declaration expressed satisfaction with the performance of the Council since it was established five years ago, especially in the mainstreaming of water in policy-making processes of African countries. It noted, however, that improved access to safe water and sanitation was still not within the reach of the poorest in Africa, especially women and children.
The water crisis can only be tackled if governments, the private sector, civil society organizations and development partners continue to forge strong partnership to improve the situation.
The meeting was attended by African ministers in charge of water representing the five sub-regions as well as a large number of representatives of the African Union, the European Union, the G-8, United Nations, bilateral cooperation partners, civil society groups, the private sector and media, among others.
The Brazzaville Declaration emphasized the need for AMCOW to focus more on regional integration processes, especially with the African Union as well as other regional and sub-regional bodies in which the full engagement, involvement and contribution of all African countries will be critical.
It will also strive to strengthen the governance structures in AMCOW and the technological and technical capacity of its organs including the secretariat, and strengthen support arrangements for the effective implementation of its decisions and work programme.
The Council said it would consolidate and coordinate existing regional and international partnerships and identify and engage in new partnership arrangements. It said self-reliance with regard to the means of implementing its decisions while counting on international solidarity in order to increase its efforts and resources, promoting and monitoring progress towards the attainment of the water and sanitation-related MDGs in Africa as well as enhancing AMCOW’s capacity to support such activities were of paramount importance.
On its relations with partners, the AMCOW declaration commended the African Development Bank Group’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI) and called for the preparation of a report on the first phase of the Initiative. It also called on governments and donors to provide full support to the programme as well as endorse the proposed second donor conference on the implementation of the second phase of the Initiative.
On the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) hosted by the Bank, the ministers expressed their support to a proposal to jointly host a water infrastructure financing meeting in 2008, possibly in conjunction with the proposed Africa Water Summit. It will also engage the ICA in dialogue with a view to raising the profile of water within the Consortium.
The Bank Group’s delegation to the 6th Ordinary Session of AMCOW was lead by the Director of the Department of Water and Sanitation and of the African Water Facility (AWF), Mr. Kordje Bedoumra. He told the session that the continent stood a better chance of gaining from the favorable global environment if it developed a clear agenda based on the African Water Vision with the backing of a regional authority like AMCOW.
The Bank Group, he said, had made water and sanitation a priority and had increased the average annual intervention in the sector five-fold in the last five years with the average annual intervention in the past three decades rising from US$ 70 million per year to an average of US$330 per year. "Its intervention in the sector in 2007 will be around US$490, representing an increase of 50% over the 2006 amount," he emphasized.
The session renewed the chair of AMCOW as well as its executive and technical advisory committees. The Congolese Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Mr. Bruno Itoua, took over from Mrs. Maria Mutagamba of Uganda who was highly commended for her able leadership of the organisation
The May 30-31 Ministerial session was preceded by the executive committee meeting, sub-regional consultations, AWF consultations, civil society, youth and media forums as well as a children’s assembly on water.