AfDB to increase water access to 66% of Africa

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The African Development Bank (ADB) intends to raise abou t US$ 4.5 billion to take the number of Africans having access to drinking water from the current 46 per cent to 66 per cent in 2010, one of its officials, Andrianarison Rakotobé, announced here Thursday.

“We are soon going to launch the second phase of our initiative for supplying water and sanitation to the rural areas (AEAR).

“Our goal is to take advantage of this phase to ensure access to water and sanit ation for 66 per cent of Africans by the year 2010,” Mr Rakotobé, Director of the ADB Water and Sanitation Department declared.

Launched in 2003, the AEAR initiative should make it possible, through 17 programmes, for 33 extra million Africans to gain access to drinking water and to hygiene and sanitation facilities.

“We are proud of the results already recorded within the framework of the putting in place of this initiative.

“But, at the same time, we are convinced we need to move forward, that we need to display greater perseverance in the face of the challenges put up by access to water and sanitation in Africa,” Rakotobé, who is also head of the African Water Facility (AWF), declared.

For him, it is better to invest in the water and sanitation sector now, to avoid having to pay “a prohibitive bill” in the coming years.

“All the fundings needed to settle access to drinking water in Africa was estimated at some US$ 20 billion a year. This allocation covers all water uses: consumption, agriculture, energy, industry,” the ADB director explained.

He also estimated at nearly 30 billion dollars per year, the expenses related to the absence of drinking water and sanitation in Africa, while recalling that Asia has been able to record good economic results for having invested in this sector.

“Very precise evaluations show the unmet water and sanitation needs cost every year, nearly 30 billion euros in Africa, that is ten billion more than this sector’s financing requirements.

“We take the view that we must act now to avoid having to pay more tomorrow”, Rakotobé warned.

“A clear correlation was formally established between investments in African countries in water and sanitation and their economic development. Africa must take the cue from them, as water is a development stake,” he further said.

Meeting since Wednesday at the initiative of the ADB and the African Council of Water Ministers (AMCAW), nearly 400 participants continued discussions Thursday on issues related to water access in Africa, including public/private partnership , the shared management of water resources.

They reviewed the progress made by African countries in the attainment of the Mi llennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the water sector.

The meeting will end Friday, with the adoption of a declaration, expressing the African vision on the water issue for the coming years. Panapress.

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