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World Water Day 2013: International Year of Water Cooperation


Water Cooperation: Key to Unlocking Africa’s Water Potential, Meeting Water Needs

The importance of cooperation has long been recognized as fundamental to developing Africa’s water sector.  

African Governments and development partners alike understand the centrality of water in meeting basic human needs, supporting socio-economic development and poverty reduction, as well as in protecting the environment and biodiversity – and continue working together to catalyze the development of the water sector to meet Africa’s water needs.

The African Development Bank, its partners and stakeholders have good reason to be proud of efforts deployed in the last decade to promote platforms and opportunities for dialogue and collaboration on the continent, as those efforts have led to the establishment of a number of key water initiatives.

The adoption of the Africa Water Vision 2025 in 2000, for one, marked an important milestone in the history of water cooperation.

With strong support from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and other partners, the Vision was developed with the following in mind: to build a “future where the full potential of Africa’s water resources can be readily unleashed to stimulate and sustain growth in the region’s economic development and social well-being.”

This paved the way for a series of agreements and initiatives, several of which were initiated and supported by the AfDB and have since helped implement the roadmap designed to carry out the Vision.

Focus on AfDB’s Flagship Water Initiatives

In 2001, the AfDB took an important step forward establishing the Multi-Donor Water Partnership Program (MDWPP).  

Designed to promote effective water management policies and practices in AfDB operations and at regional and country levels, the program signalled AfDB’ s full commitment to accelerating the development of the sector through enhanced collaboration, in keeping with the spirit of the Africa Water Vision.

Closely after, it supported the African Minister’s Council on Water (AMCOW), in establishing the African Water Facility (AWF) also becoming the host to Africa’s first-ever water fund.

Set up to attract much needed investment in the sector, AWF was meant to become Africa’s premier financial instrument for resources mobilization, and for promoting improved water governance and water knowledge.

The AWF has since channeled most of its funding and technical expertise into supporting project preparation to attract follow-up investment, overtime revealing a highly successful multiplier effect.

Since its inception, AWF has on average mobilized €20 for every euro it invested, bringing to €532 million the total financing attracted to date.

Complementary to those initiatives, the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI) then came along.  

Promoted by the AfDB and adopted by African Governments and international development partners in 2005, RWSSI was set up as common framework for resources mobilization and investment to meet the targets of the Vision and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for water supply and sanitation in rural Africa.

By the end of 2012, the AfDB alone had directly invested about $1.3 billion in financing 37 rural water supply and sanitation programs in 26 countries.  

Meanwhile, the RWSSI framework had contributed to bringing access to water supply and sanitation to 55 million and 32 million people respectively, in the 26 countries where the AfDB had intervened.

Overall, the results achieved so far through these three initiatives give us a quick glimpse at AfDB’s determination to promote water security and boost sustainable growth and development through increased water cooperation. But its efforts are not limited to these initiatives. The Bank has also supported the provision of the water and sanitation services in Africa’s fast growing cities as well as contributing to the development the continent’s enormous irrigation and hydropower potential.

AfDB is well positioned to promote collaboration may it be across sectors, governments and institutions and will continue working with its partners to see that the continent’s water resources, many of which flow across international boundaries, are developed and properly managed.  

Indeed, Africa’s water future will depend on everyone’s readiness to meet an increasing water demand exacerbated by climate change and population growth, which will be better achieved through partnership.

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