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Finance Ministers’ meeting seeks $30bn boost for water and sanitation

Finance ministers from across Africa convened on Tuesday, October 31, 2023, to deliberate on political and institutional reforms that will help mobilise an additional $30 billion annually for water and sanitation. This is as much about financing as it is about political will, participants heard.

Catarina de Albuquerque
Catarina de Albuquerque, Chief Executive Officer, Sanitation and Water for All partnership

The virtual meeting was hosted by Sanitation and Water for All (SWA), UNICEF, and the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW). It gathered over 50 finance and sector ministers and development partners.

Funding needs to be at least three times higher in Africa to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goal targets. However, this is far less than the $170 billion – nearly 5% of GDP – lost by sub-Saharan African each year due to inadequate water resources, contaminated water and poor sanitation.

By mid-century, the economic toll from water-related climate impacts on African nations could reach $50 billion annually. Every dollar invested in climate-resilient water and sanitation in Africa yields a return of at least $7.

Finance ministers discussed several specific approaches that can close the investment gap for water and sanitation:

  • Increasing the national budget allocation for water and sanitation to 5% and 0.5%, respectively.
  • Partnering with development banks to secure long-term finance that aligns with universal water and sanitation access goals.
  • Ensuring that sufficient finance is available for universal access to safely managed sanitation – a key development indicator that significantly reduces the public health burden.
  • Investing in climate-resilient water and sanitation infrastructure by tapping into climate finance.
  • Reducing debt and ensuring African nations can access a fair share of Special Drawing Rights.

The event organisers urged participants to mobilise political will and view investment in water and sanitation as a means to achieve economic growth, improve public health and reduce inequalities.

“Today’s meeting serves as a reminder that the challenges in the water and sanitation sector are as much about financing as they are about political priorities,” said Catarina de Albuquerque, CEO of SWA. It’s equally vital for governments to prioritise water and sanitation in their budgets and on their policy agendas. We’re glad to see so many finance ministers committing to lead the way.”

The Africa Finance Ministers’ Meeting gathers ministers of finance from around the region to discuss the political and institutional reforms required to make better use of existing financing. It also seeks to attract additional resources for the water and sanitation sector to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Other regional finance ministers’ meetings will be held in Asia and Latin America in 2024.

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