How Africa can secure its water, sustain sanitation

A high-level report shows calls for more funding to address the issue

In Summary

• It needs more impactful water spending and financial leveraging

• It should also mobilise domestic resources and get global investment

Image: bird story agency

A high-level report shows there are pathways by which Africa can close its water and sanitation gaps by 2030, but some tough measures are required.

The report was released by the International High-Level Panel on Water Investments for Africa and is titled 'Africa's Rising Investment Tide'.

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 per 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 the opportunities to bridge these gaps.

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

Senegalese President Macky Sall, the panel's co-chair, says existing gaps must be closed by "intensifying advocacy and, above all, action".

"The three proposed pathways outline how to unlock and scale 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 already 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.

Due to the present sector investment gaps, "African countries lose up to $200 billion annually."

Sub-Saharan Africa alone loses 5 per cent of its GDP due to a lack of water or contaminated water from poor sanitation.

If this trend continues, African nations could lose 50 billion annually due to climate impacts propagated by water-related hazards.

A change in paradigm in water investing can remedy that.

The panel proposes a 5-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 per cent of national budgets and 0.5 per cent of GDP per year dedicated to the sector.

Further, 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 matchmaking, 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 de-risk water investments will help. The model will generate larger funding streams and make the pathways actionable.

"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 said.

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