Call to prioritise provision of clean water
Dar es Salaam
AFRICAN governments have been urged to prioritise providing clean water and sanitation to their people and to find solutions to the impact of climate change on the availability of the resource.
Addressing the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) general assembly in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on Thursday, African Development Bank (AfDB) Vice-President Dr Kapil Kapoor said a business-as-usual approach to addressing water-related challenges would not take the continent forward.
He said a lackadaisical approach would result in African countries failing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the earmarked 2030.
SDGs are a set of intergovernmental objectives to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all officially known as Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
He said the AfDB decided to support actions and initiatives of the AMCOW on SDG six to ensure proper management of African water resources for better education, socio-economic development, national cooperation, protection of the environment as well as resilience to disasters and climate change.
Titled “Clean Water and Sanitation”, SDG six seeks to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
“Safe, clean and accessible water for all is what we all want. However, the poor financing in the water sector has resulted in people losing their lives, especially children dying from diseases associated with drinking unsafe water,” Dr Kapoor said.
He said climate change was severely impacting on the availability of water in Africa, adding there was an urgent to address the problem.
“Business as usual will not get us anywhere. We need a robust change in the way we are doing business and if that does not happen, we will all be faced with a huge challenge of failing to provide safe and clean water,” Dr Kapoor said.
The AMCOW general assembly was preceded by the African Water Week, which was attended by government representatives, civil society organisations, international donors and agencies.
The meeting was unanimous in its call for immediate action if Africa is to achieve SDG six.
Lesotho was represented at the meetings by Water Affairs Minister Ralechate ‘Mokose, Principal Secretary Khomoatsana Tau, government officials and civil society organisations.
Commenting on Dr Kapoor’s remarks, Mr ‘Mokose said the government’s decision to establish an independent water ministry was ample proof of the value attached to the sector’s development.
“We are attending the 6th Africa Water Week because we understand and value that water is a very important resource; without water there is no life,” he said.
“We perfectly agree with the African Development Bank that a business-as-usual approach will not get us anywhere. Fortunately for us, we are already moving in the right direction.
“We realised the value and importance of water as a natural resource and established an independent ministry and this should tell you that we mean business in wanting to achieve SDG six.”
The minister said the government’s decision to erect standpipes along the Metolong Dam and Water Supply Project pipeline and manholes in various areas was meant to provide the resource to Basotho. A standpipe is an external freestanding pipe to provide running water in areas with no other water supply.
“We want everyone to have access to safe and clean water and this is why we erected those standpipes as a temporary measure,” said Mr ‘Mokose, adding the government had already secured funding to supply water from the African Water Fund (AWF), which is an AMCOW initiative.
“The tendering process for supplying villages with water from Metolong has already started, and soon Phase 1 of this project will begin in Berea while the latter stage, Phase 2 (Ha Motloheloa) will also resume.”
He said the project was financed by the AfDB through the AWF, adding that external support was imperative to ensure success.
“Like any African country, we need external financial support to ensure that we achieve SDG six. We are all interdependent,” Mr ‘Mokose said.