Africa is experiencing water crisis with scientists saying there is strong evidence of decreased water flow and water quality in many countries.
Scientists, researchers and drivers of water policy have also warned that continued population and economic growth, combined with climate change, could result in serious water shortages in some parts of the continent by 2025. These challenges are coming at a time many African countries are mapping pathways towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It is against this backdrop that the African water ministers attending the 6th edition of the Africa Water Week have called for increased self-driven and innovative approach to addressing the water challenges.
According to the ministers, the flagship water event on the continent which began on Monday (18 July, 2016) at the Julius Nyerere International Conference Centre in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, provides the unique opportunity to explore pathways of addressing water challenges.
“We need new ideas and self-driven approaches to addressing the issues of water in Africa,” noted Gerson H Lwenge, Tazanian minister of water and irrigation, at the opening of the conference.
In a pre-conference statement, African water ministers under the auspices of African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), said there was a range of actions – besides investments into large inter-basin transfer schemes – that could be taken to improve the prospects for quality water supply and quality.
The President of AMCOW and Senegalese hydraulic and sanitation minister, Amadou Mansour Faye; the Executive Secretary, Bai Mass Taal; and other high-level speakers at the opening of the conference, emphasised the need to better address issues related to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG-6) and other inter-related goals with emphasis on new approaches adapted to the African reality.
“The SDGs is all about using local initiatives by both the private sector and the government working together,” Mr Taal noted.
“Water resources is vital in realising these goals,” says H.E Mwai Kibaki former President of Kenya and UNESCO Special Envoy on Water in Africa, at the conference plenary.
With the theme “Achieving the SDGs on Water Security and Sanitation,” the 6th Africa Water Week (AWW-6) aspires to lay the building blocks for Africa to achieve the SDG-6 as well as other inter-linking SDGs connected with water resources management and improved sanitation service delivery. It also represents the quest in the continent to place emphasis on matching commitments and plans with concrete actions with impact on the ground.
It highlights Africa’s undaunted focus on achieving the Agenda 2063, the continent’s global strategy to optimise use of Africa’s resources for the overall benefit of all. The four sub-themes of the AWW-6 revolve round achieving universal and equitable access to water and sanitation for all, and ensuring sustainable water resources management and climate resilience. Others are strengthening productive waste water management and improved water quality improving policy, financing and monitoring.
Part of the desired outcome for the conference is the adoption of a roadmap for developing a comprehensive action plan for Africa aimed at translating high-level commitments including N’gor Declaration on Water Security and Sanitation into implementation at country, sub-regional and continental levels.
The biennial water conference brings over 1,000 participants from governments, regional institutions, international partners, the private sector, the scientific community, civil society and the media from all over the world.