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Rural Water Supply & Sanitation Initiative

The Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI) is an Africa-wide initiative hosted by the African Development Bank (AfDB). RWSSI is a focused regional response to Africa’s rural water supply and sanitation crisis, considering the fact that eight out of 10 people without access to safe water and sanitation live in rural areas. The Initiative is funded through contributions from the AfDB, bilateral and multilateral agencies, African governments and communities and the RWSSI Trust Fund. RWSSI supports rural water and sanitation projects and programs with funding for investment operations, strengthening sector processes and systems, as well as through advocacy and knowledge building. RWSSI is one of the AfDB’s flagship initiatives, whose overall objective is to accelerate access to drinking water supply and sanitation in rural Africa in order to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Water Vision targets.

RWSSI Impacts

Since the inception of RWSSI in 2003, the AfDB has invested €1.53 billion in financing 53 RWSS programs in 35 countries. By December 31, 2015, the Initiative had mobilized over €5.93 billion from the AfDB, other donors, African governments, beneficiary communities and the RWSSI Trust Fund. The initiative provided water supply and sanitation access to an estimated 135 million and 90 million people respectively. The share of rural programs/projects in the Bank’s total active water and sanitation portfolio of loans and grants increased by 40 per cent, from less than 15 per cent in 2002.

RWSSI Strategy within the AfDB

The AfDB’s Ten Year Strategy ( 2013 – 2022) and the strategic priorities of the Bank – energy, food, industrialization, integration and improved quality of life called the “High 5s” - guide the Bank’s operations in the water and sanitation sector. To support the implementation of the Bank’s Strategy, RWSSI will design a Strategic Plan for 2017-2020, which adequately addresses the prevailing challenges and current realities. Special focus will be placed on conflict-sensitivity and states in transition, where there is a dire need for basic rural water supply and sanitation. The 2017–2020 RWSSI Strategic Plan will take into account the ambitious targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) defined for the rural water and sanitation sector.

The RWSSI Trust Fund and Resource Mobilization

The RWSSI Trust Fund has played an important role in addressing water, sanitation and hygiene challenges across Africa. It has also provided examples of successful multi-stakeholder collaborations that have strengthened existing partnerships and promoted avenues for new collaborations among international organizations, governments and local communities.

Countries that have contributed to the RWSSI Trust Fund are Burkina Faso, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The total funding committed to date amounts to €189.2 million, of which donor contributions amount to €181.9 million.

The RWSSI-TF is a multi-donor fund, with resources allocated in accordance with policies set by the RWSSI steering committee. Funds are increasingly used as a catalyst in addressing the enabling environment and sustainability requirements for rural water supply and sanitation development, in prioritizing post-conflict and off-track states, and for leveraging greater resources for the rural water and sanitation subsector. Eligible activities for RWSSI-TF resources are water supply infrastructure specifically for off-track and fragile states, sanitation, development of rural water and sanitation policies, program and project preparation as well as capacity building and training.

RWSSI will focus on resource mobilization for the AfDB-managed RWSSI Trust Fund, an effective tool for advocacy and leveraging of additional resources for water supply and sanitation in rural Africa.