By, Evans Wafula
April 22, 2011

Nairobi, Kenya-Africa’s long quest to achieve the Millennium Development Goals is far from realization and is doomed to fail if radical reforms are not enforced in urban managements in Africa. Kenya’s housing Minister; Mr. Soita Shitanda has warned.

He expressed fear on the pace of urban development in Africa and has blamed it on endemic corruption in a continent ravaged by poverty and diseases despite huge resource potential.

“Although many African countries have viable national frameworks for urban management on the continent, corruption remains the major challenge in Africa and is the main cause for under development in Africa,” Mr. Soita Standa, added.

After the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Africa is still struggling to meet her development targets. An estimated 1.1 billion people remain without safe drinking water and about 2.6 billion have no access to adequate sanitation. Almost 1 billion people, most of them in developing countries, live in slums, with constrained sanitation. This is figure expected to double over the next 30 years.

That was the dark picture painted at the World Water Day 2011 in Cape Town, South Africa. The international observance of World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro to forge common standpoints on urban development and urbanization in order to promote access to water and sanitation.

In Africa, the importance of this is the rapid rate at which African countries are becoming increasingly urban societies and monitor the implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), held in Johannesburg in 2002.

During the Cape Town conference delegates mostly from Africa also under took to reviewed the progress in provision of water, access to sanitation and human settlements, as envisaged at the 2005 African Minister’s Conference on Housing and Urban Development (AMCHUD) held in Durban, South Africa in 2005.

“Africa continues to stagnate in realization of her MDGs painting a stark picture on the face of increased challenges of urbanization”. Edna Molewa, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, South Africa said as she underscored the importance of dialogue on water and sanitation issues globally.

Although the expectation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) was to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015, an estimated 300 million people in Africa are faced with lack of access to safe drinking water and 14 countries on the continent suffer from water scarcity. With domestic water use below 50 liters per person per day in over 55 countries (the minimum requirement set by the World Health Organization), 35 of this countries are in Africa. An estimated half of people living in African suffer from one of six main water-related diseases.

According to a 1990 report by the UN Development Programme, the proportion of urban dwellers with access to safe drinking water in Sub-Saharan Africa only declined slightly from 86 per cent to 83 per cent in 2000.This slow trend was not expected to change much towards 2015 due to the complex nature of urban development in Africa.

Delegates at the WWD 2011 also identified lack of money and technology as the major hindrances to solving Africa’s urbanization problems and called for increased investment for water supply and sanitation in Africa and to deal with lack of resource capacity.

African governments were encouraged to involve the stake holders at the grassroots and encourage equal participation of the local communities in solving their own problems through participation in order to access the challenges of urbanization.

Water Journalists Africa

Water Journalists Africa (WJA) is the largest network of journalists reporting on water in the African continent. It brings together some 700 journalists from 50 African countries. It was established in...

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  1. I think this post really captures the confusion that exists as to how to best spread the responsibility for the MDGs. We are running a short survey (link to the survey is on this facebook event page: on asking who can make the biggest contribution to achieving the MDGs and stopping this trend of wasted potential for development. If you could take a look and submit your opinion given these facts that would be much appreciated and interesting.

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