…Seeks access to safe management of WASH
African ministers in the water sector have called for accelerated water security among member states in the African continent.
They unanimously made this call at the Africa Water and Sanitation Week Conference convened virtually by the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) and the African Union Commission (AUC), hosted by the government of the Republic of Namibia.
The conference, which availed over 3000 registered participants a platform for dialogue and knowledge exchange to advance the water and sanitation agenda in Africa, ended with the issuance of the Windhoek Multi-stakeholder Resolutions for Accelerating Water Security and Access to Safely Managed Sanitation and Hygiene in Africa.
On water governance, they called for the strengthening of policy, legal, institutional and regulatory environments by ensuring context specificity; intra- and inter-sectoral coherency.
A statement by AMCOW communications and visibility manager, Mrs. Maïmouna Tall Ndiaye, said the ministers called for the upholding of the principles of universal social inclusion and equity.
The statement further enjoined governments to raise the profile of social accountability and transparency. It noted the importance of recognising women and youth as agents for the planning and implementation of the water, sanitation and hygiene agenda in Africa, adding that it is imperative to develop the requisite human resources capacity – especially among the women and youths – for sustainable services’ delivery.
On finance, the statement called on African governments and the private sector to significantly increase investments in climate-resilient and inclusive water and sanitation services and infrastructure.
The continued support of development banks and partners were cited as critical enablers. It called on governments to recommit to both the 2003 PANAFCON commitment of allocating at least five per cent of budgets for water and sanitation.
It further called for the e-Thekwini commitment to establish public sector budget allocations of a minimum of 0.5 per cent of GDP for sanitation and hygiene programmes.
On water supply, sanitation and hygiene services, governments were counselled to seize the opportunity of heightened awareness to ensure water availability and improved sanitation and hygiene services, keeping up the fight against COVID-19, reducing the overall diseases’ burden and preventing future pandemics.
“Pandemic preparedness and response capabilities must be strengthened and the profile of sanitation and hygiene raised,” it said.
The statement further tasked governments and stakeholders to address the challenges faced in accessing reliable and complete data in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector, rethink how data on hygiene practices is captured and utilised to inform decision-making and improve sanitation and hygiene programming, as well as delivery.
On water for growth and economic development, governments and partners were tasked to prioritise water management and services’ provision as essential ingredients for poverty alleviation and inclusive development.
The minister’s statement called for the prioritisation of groundwater resources’ management as a key element of water resources development, utilisation and management. Well-functioning monitoring, assessment and management systems are noted as requisite ingredients to ensure sustainable use of the resources.
It said the ministers also resolved to mobilise groundwater networks, actors and institutions towards a common, harmonized, and evidence-based approach to sustainable groundwater use and management.
On water quality and wastewater management, the statement called for the strengthening of legal, policy and institutional frameworks for the collection and treatment of solid waste and wastewater.
This, it emphasised, should be to a minimum quality standard before reuse and or safe disposal. Also, the statement called for standardised regulations for wastewater treatment, environmental flows and water quality management in Africa.
“Particular reference should be paid to arresting and reversing plastic pollution of surface water bodies and preventing groundwater contamination due to unsafe solid waste and wastewater disposal to the environment.
“According to the recently published UN’s IPCC Assessment Report and the relevant priorities of the Glasgow Climate Pact. These include integrating water and climate action through adaptation and resilience planning at national and regional levels. It also involves promoting and financing global water monitoring systems to provide timely information about current and future water availability.
“There must be a proactive approach to flood and drought management centred around monitoring, forecasting and early warning vulnerability, impact assessment and preparedness, mitigation and response.
“[African governments must] prioritise investment for monitoring, evaluation, knowledge, information management and learning to consolidate evidence-based and timely decision-making at all levels, even as it encouraged African governments to foster research and application of knowledge and innovations to inform sector interventions targeted at improving water management and sanitation services provision,” it added.