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). The initiative is funded through contributions from the Bank, bilateral and multilateral agencies, African governments and communities and the RWSSI Trust Fund (TF). RWSSI supports rural water and sanitation projects and programs with funding for investment operations, strengthening of 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 Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the African Water Vision targets of 2025.

RWSSI Impacts

Since the inception of RWSSI in 2003, the AfDB has invested €1.27 billion in financing 49 RWSS programs in 33 countries. By December 31, 2014, the Initiative had mobilized a total of over 5.68 billion euros from the AfDB, other donors, African governments, beneficiary communities and the RWSSI Trust Fund. The initiative had provided water supply and sanitation access to over 97 million and 70 million people respectively. The share of rural programs/projects in the Bank’s total active water and sanitation portfolio of loans and grants had increased to about 41 per cent, from less than 15 per cent in 2002.

RWSSI Strategy within the AfDB

The AfDB 2013-2022 strategy guides the Bank’s water and sanitation sector operations. To support the implementation of the Bank’s Strategy, RWSSI will design a 2016-2020 Strategic Plan 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 2016–2020 RWSSI Strategic Plan will take into account the ambitious targets the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) will define 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 fortified existing partnerships and promoted avenues for new collaborations among international organizations, governments and local communities.

In 2014, the RWSSI-TF received €5.2 million from Switzerland and €13.0 million from France. By December 31, 2014, total commitments from Burkina Faso, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland amounted to €189.2 million while outstanding commitments stood at €35 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 into the rural water and sanitation subsector. Eligible activities for RWSSI-TF resources are water supply infrastructure specifically for off-track and fragile states, sanitation infrastructure, development of rural water and sanitation policies, program and project preparation as well as capacity building and training.

RWSSI Trust Fund disbursements amounted to €14.5 million in 2014. Out of 30 operations benefiting from the RWSSI Trust Fund, five operations fully utilized the allocated funds last year, namely projects in the Central African Republic, Kenya, Malawi, Niger and Tanzania. The annual disbursement rate for the RWSSI Trust Fund in 2014 was 18%. The annual disbursement rate is defined as the ratio of annual disbursements at the end of the year divided by the cumulated commitments at the beginning of the same year. The consistent performance of the RWSSI Trust Fund disbursement rate to a level in the region of the AfDB’s annual target of 20% is an important contribution to the framework conditions for successful resource mobilization.

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.

2015 Operations

The RWSSI 2015 Work Plan is composed of 8 new RWSSI operations which will provide access to improved water supply and sanitation for around 4 million rural people in Nigeria, Lesotho, Malawi, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, Morocco, Somalia, and Sudan. An additional 34 ongoing operations in 29 countries have been carried over from 2014. Other benefits will include the reduction in the prevalence of water-borne diseases, the creation of permanent jobs and ensuing socio-economic benefits, improved sector planning and development frameworks, and water for economic activities.

The estimated value of the eight new RWSSI operations planned for 2015 is around €221.16 million. Of this, €100.17 million are AfDB contributions, €56.34 million come from the Transition Support Facility, €37.56 million from the Africa Growing Together Facility; €9.53 million from the RWSSI-TF; €0.82 million from the African Water Facility, €0.36 million from the Fund for African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA) and €16.56 million from Least Developed Country Fund (LDCF) of the Global Environment Facility.


Jochen Rudolph, Focal Point, Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative
Water and Sanitation Department (OWAS)
Tel: +255 2026 1227