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South Africa's President, Jacob Zuma has called on his fellow African and world leaders “to prioritize access to water and sanitation.”
Speaking in Durban South Africa during a joint event to commemorate World Water Day and launch the 2017 World Water Development Report, Zuma said: "the bleak global picture presented in the 2017 World Water Development Report requires world leaders to urgently prioritize the improvement of access to essential water and sanitation services."
Hundreds of local and international delegates including the African Development Bank (AfDB) gathered at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Conference Center in Durban on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 to commemorate World Water Day and launch the 2017 World Water Development Report.
Produced yearly since 2014, the World Water Development Report presents an exhaustive review of the state of global water resources and provide additional evidence for decision making. This year, the report focused on “Wastewater: The Untapped Resource.”
While acknowledging the distressing state of world water resources, Zuma said "we have the potential to create a new and more positive economic and social developmental pathway through water infrastructure investments, valuing water, catalyzing change, building partnerships and international cooperation, as well as creating better human settlements and data."
The African Development has been at the forefront of financing water and sanitation programs in regional member countries since 1968. As a leader in water and sanitation services in Africa, the Bank was invited to provide its perspectives on how to accelerate the achievements of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 6 on water and sanitation.
"The momentum generated by the adoption of the SDGs and the Paris Climate Change Agreement combined with the high-level political commitment presents an opportunity to re-invigorate development," said Oswald Chanda, Officer-In-Charge of the Water Development and Sanitation Department of the AfDB.
Rapid urbanization, population growth, dwindling freshwater resources, climate change, weak institutions, and sector capacity, Chanda said, are some of the challenges in achieving SDG 6.
In addition to fostering greater collaboration with partners, and adopting a new business model that takes the Bank closer to regional member countries, the AfDB has also approved a new set of focused strategic priorities (High 5s) to ensure pressing challenges on the continent are addressed. The AfDB's High 5s include Light Up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa and Improve the quality of life of Africans.
Highlights of this year's World Development Report include:
The Durban event ended with the adoption of a political declaration. The declaration signals a global commitment to: (a) continue to support and strengthen implementation of the SDG 6; (b) support and share best practices; (c) request the African Union Commission to prioritize water and sanitation; (d) increase budgetary allocations to match central role of water security for agenda 2030; (e) and strengthen transboundary cooperation and collaboration.