/ 1 April 2023

How Africa can achieve water security and sustainable sanitation

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Africa’s Rising Investment Tide, a report released in March by the International High-Level Panel on Water Investments for Africa, shows there are pathways by which Africa can close its water and sanitation gaps by 2030.

The panel, consisting of seven African presidents and international leaders, seeks to develop actionable avenues to close in on the continent’s water investment gaps.

In the inaugural report, the panel demonstrates pathways African countries can implement to secure an additional $30 billion to drive water security and sustainable sanitation by 2030.

Africa requires $50 billion annually — the equivalent of $40 per individual African a year — to achieve water security and sustainable sanitation by 2030.

Current water and sanitation investment inflows range between $10 billion and $19 billion a year, leaving deficits of between $11 billion and $20 billion annually.

The high-level panel’s report highlights ways to bridge these gaps.

The goal for African countries should include achieving more effective water spending and financial leveraging, mobilising domestic resources, and securing global and continental investment and finance.

Senegal’s President Macky Sall, the panel’s co-chair, said gaps must be closed by “intensifying advocacy and, above all, action”.

“The three proposed pathways outline how to unlock and scale an unprecedented pipeline of investable water projects through greater risk sharing between public and private finance.”

The report highlights the economic value of achieving the 2030 targets, insisting the cost of inaction is taking a toll on individual countries and heightening economic gaps.

For every $1 invested in climate-resilient water and sanitation, the report estimates at least $7 will be gained by ensuring that $1 is used across developments in various sectors.

“African countries lose up to $200  billion annually” because of the present sector investment gaps. And sub-Saharan Africa alone loses 5% of its GDP because of a water shortage or contaminated water from poor sanitation.

If this trend continues, African nations could lose $50 billion annually as a result of climate effects caused by water-related hazards. A change in paradigm in water investing can remedy that.

The panel proposes a five-point action plan for heads of state and government, businesses and the global community to reinforce the three pathways.

A cross-sectoral political leadership at the highest level of governance should be created with a commitment to increase budgetary allocations to water and sanitation activities.

The authors also propose establishing mechanisms to track progress, with at least 5% of national budgets and 0.5% of GDP a year dedicated to the sector.

New funding sources and innovative finance methods should be explored to support climate resilience, blended public-private finance and gender transformation. These can be met through bringing diverse parties together to collaborate and invest in the sector.

Stronger institutional regulations for water investment will also trigger more incentives besides outlining penalties. This will boost water efficiency across various industries.

Finally, the panel believes using official development assistance models to reduce risk water investments will help. The model will generate larger funding streams.“If we don’t achieve water security and sustainable sanitation on the African continent we will fail at all of the sustainable development goals,” alternate panel co-chair Jakaya Kikwete noted. — bird story agency