Action required to reach water goal

767 million Africans without access to basic sanitation

06 July 2021 | Infrastructure

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

Africa needs to put in place strategies for progress to accelerate progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, which deals with ensuring access to water and sanitation for all by 2030.

Agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein said this when speaking at the high-level ministerial conference on Water Dialogues for Results held in Bonn.

The virtual conference was convened by the German government to support the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework, which unifies all sectors in increasing efforts to achieve water and sanitation for all by 2030.

Schlettwein said Africa sees this conference as an important opportunity to highlight the challenges that the continent faces, but also to bring to the table proposals of how better coordination and appropriately targeted financial resources could accelerate action in the implementation of SDG 6.

Alarming

Schlettwein said in sub-Saharan Africa alone over 400 million people do not have access to basic water services.

“The situation is even more alarming for sanitation as over 767 million Africans do not have access to basic sanitation and hygiene services and over 250 million people still practice open defecation.”

He said financial flows to the sector are inadequate and indeed declined sharply from US$3.8 billion in the year 2000 to US$1.7 billion in 2017.

“The current financial flows are but a fraction of the actual need and must be significantly enhanced without pushing already vulnerable economies into debt crises.”

Climate

In addition, Schlettwein said that the water sector is further challenged by climate change, inadequate policies and regulatory frameworks, weak coordination among actors, weak institutional and human resource capacity and weak monitoring, reporting and learning systems.

“The continent’s challenges remain steep and there is an urgent need for member states of the African Union and indeed the world to put in place the needed strategies and policies to accelerate progress towards achieving SDG 6 for all by 2030, but equally the required financial and technological resources.”

Schlettwein

that the effects of climate change on water are starting to manifest themselves as an additional burden to African countries.

“Therefore, the water and climate leaders panel, which I have the pleasure to be part of, advocates for a more integrated water and climate agenda.”

According to him the panel calls for a global water monitoring alliance, an integrated water and climate stock take, cooperative water and climate adaptation action across boundaries and long-term financing arrangements to respond to the needs.

Schlettwein pointed out that during the Africa Regional Forum for Water Dialogue for Results in May, delegates of the 55 member states of the African Union re-emphasised that the demand for water in Africa is increasing exponentially due to increasing population growth, socio-economic development and large-scale industrial and agriculture requirements and groundwater remains critical for sustainable development of Africa.

He said the forum also recognised the links between sustainable groundwater and transboundary water management, the essential regional and global cooperation between all stakeholders, and peace and harmonisation of legislation, policies and strategies on the continent and has developed an eight-point action plan on water for the way forward.