George Mhango, Tunis in Tunisia
March 27, 2013
Over 150 delegates including, ministers, CSO leaders and experts in water and sanitation have converged in the Tunisian capital Tunis for the meeting to launch the Regional Coordination Committee of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI).
RWSSI was launched in 2003 by the African Development Bank with an overall goal of universal access to water supply and sanitation services for the rural populations by 2025 with an immediate target of 80 percent coverage by 2015.
Delegates at the conference going on at Ramada Plaza in Tunis heard from various dignitaries including Bai Mass Taal, the Executive Secretary for African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW).
Taal noted that AMCOW had adopted RWSSI in recognition of the need to focus on this under-prioritized subsector.
While presenting the Terms of References for Regional Coordination Committee, Osward Mulenga Chanda, the Manager for Water and Sanitation Department at AfDB noted that, “an additional investment of US$ 8.1 billion is required to provide basic water supply services for 155 million people and sanitation for 226 million people to meet the MDG targets in rural areas of Africa.”
He said although, since the launch of the RWSSI in 2003, access to water in rural set-ups has increased with unconvincing percentages.
“These figures are far below the MDG targets of 70 percent for water supply and sanitation at 62 percent. Only, about 16 African countries are on target on water, while 10 of the countries are likely to meet the sanitation target,” he said.
Delegates from various African countries highlighted the fact that financing and other contributions from governments and communities to the WASH subsector are increasing but can be improved.
They stressed the need for governments to ensure good governance, coordination and resource allocation to achieve universal access to water supply and sanitation services for the rural populations by 2025.
While, Malawians to the meeting hailed the-to-be launched RCC, their major concern was on low investments and sustainability of water and sanitation programmes by the government.
Emma Mbalame, Ministry of Water and Irrigation, deputy director of water services said while the government was trying to provide water to rural communities there is need for more fund allocation to the sector.
Clear reference from the Malawi side was on the appalling state of water boards in cities and at regional level which no longer provide water on daily basis to people.
Said Ruth Nganga from the Water Services Trust in Kenya: “The committee should ensure that governments consider sanitation, because some may be interested in water provision as has been the norm in other countries forgetting that sanitation is of essence in the MDG.”
Other delegates called for reconsideration of operations such that the north, south and west and east should have committees before harmonizing operations of the regional committee.
AfDB which has funded the meeting has since expressed total commitment to help countries provide water supply and sanitation services to rural countries if governments apply for funding from the bank’s trust fund.