Water and agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein is concerned that Africa’s water sector remains challenged by climate change, inadequate policies and regulatory frameworks.
Other challenges include weak coordination among actors, weak institutional and human resource capacity as well as weak monitoring, reporting and learning systems.
Despite the challenges, financial flows to the sector still not adequate and in fact declined sharply from US$3.8 billion in 2000 to US$1.7 billion in 2017.
“The current financial flows are but a fraction of the actual need and must be significantly enhanced without pushing already vulnerable economies into
debt crises,” said Schlettwein.
“The continent’s challenges remain steep and there is an urgent need for member states of the African Union and indeed the global world to put in place the needed strategies and policies to accelerate progress towards achieving sustainable development goal (SDG) 6 for all by 2030,” Schlettwein added during the high-level ministerial conference on water dialogues for results, under the theme ‘accelerating cross sectoral SDG 6 implementation’.
He noted that the effects of climate change on the water are starting to manifest themselves as an additional burden to African countries; “It manifests itself through more erratic climate, resulting in frequent more severe floods and droughts.”
Therefore, the Water and Climate leaders’ panel, which Schlettwein is part of, advocates for a more integrated water and climate agenda.
“We call for a global water monitoring alliance, an integrated water and climate stock take, cooperative water and climate adaptation action across boundaries and long-term financing arrangements to respond to the needs,” Schlettwein explained.
In a virtual meeting last week at the Africa Regional Forum for Water Dialogue for Results in May 2021, delegates of the 55 member states of the African Union re-emphasised that the demand for water in Africa is on an exponential increase due to increasing population growth, socio-economic development and large-scale industrial and agriculture requirements and groundwater remains critical for the continent’s sustainable development.
Schlettwein further noted that the efforts of the German government in investing in water and sanitation initiatives are indeed commendable.
“We in Africa see this high-level ministerial conference as an important opportunity to highlight the challenges that our continent faces, but also bring to the table proposals of how better coordination and appropriately targeted financial resources have to be availed to accelerate action in the implementation of SDG 6,” indicated Schlettwein.
The minister said though Africa has made progress, almost all African countries have not yet achieved
the SDG targets.
In sub-Saharan Africa alone, Schlettwein said over 400 million people still do not have access to basic water services. The situation is even more alarming for sanitation as over 767 million Africans do not have access to basic sanitation and hygiene services and over 250 million people still practice open defecation.