Water minister Calle Schlettwein has said the quest to mainstream the discussion around the importance of water is hamstrung by the fragmented way in which nations deal with the sector.
He echoed these sentiments on Monday during a panel discussion at the Stockholm World Water Week in Sweden.
Speaking during the International High Level Panel on Water Investment for Africa, Schlettwein said, “In as much as we agree that water links into almost every other sector as a principle enabler, we nevertheless opine that water, as a topic in itself, needs an elevated and central role.
“One stumbling block that needs to be removed is the fragmented way in which we deal with the water sector,” he said, urging everyone to join efforts to lift the profile of water with all its facets on the international agenda.
He said the establishment of an International High Level Panel on Water Investments for Africa is geared towards mobilising political commitment and leadership to accelerate AIP implementation.
This, he said, is required to narrow or close the water investment gap for Africa.
“The sobering fact is that over 400 million Africans lack access to safe drinking water while nearly 800 million Africans have no access to good sanitation,” he said.
As a result, Schlettwein said, all further socio-economic development is, therefore, impeded.
To change this, we need a firm political commitment by mobilising for a significant increase in investments and financing required to implement the prioritised interventions.
“As we prepare for the UN 2023 Conference, it is the African Ministers’ Council on Water’s (AMCOW) expectation that the high-level panel will contribute to elevating the water agenda to the highest level of decision-making on the continent and globally,” he added.
He also used the opportunity to remind delegates of the commitment of most African countries towards appointing a special envoy on water to the UN to strengthen the international water voice and cross-sectoral connections.
“I believe it will not only provide regular opportunities for countries to discuss global water challenges at a high level but also promote water investment needs in Africa,” he said.
Schlettwein is expected to participate in other discussions during the week, which will explore the political commitment and leadership required to transform and improve the investment outlook for climate resilient water security and sustainable sanitation for a prosperous, peaceful and equitable African society.
Panel members on private sector investment in wastewater included Diego Rodriguez from World Bank, Bernice Ndaitwah from Windhoek Wastewater Recycling Project as well as Anton Earle from the Stockholm International Water Institute.