Newton Sibanda
November 09, 2011

The Director of the Water and Sanitation Department and the African Water Facility at the African Development Bank (AfDB) Sering Jallow says the bank has decided to increase its water sector investments in rural areas because that is key to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“Until 2003, more than 80 percent of the bank financing for water supply and sanitation was focused in urban areas.

We eventually realized that reaching rural dwellers was key in achieving the MDG targets, as they account for 65 percent of the population of Africa, and that rural areas are where the rate is the lowest and the situation most precarious,” Mr Jallow said in an interview from Tunis.

“In 2003, the bank took the strategic decision to increase its water sector investments in rural areas launching the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI) to address this issue and accelerate the rate of coverage,” he said.

Sering Jallow, Director of the Water and Sanitation Department and the African Water Facility at the African Development Bank (AfDB)

Jallow said with the help of its partners, the bank has since been able to reach 33.5 million and 21.3 million people for water supply and sanitation respectively, aiming to reach up to 271 and 295 million people respectively by 2015.

The RWSSI was adopted by African governments and international development partners as the common framework for resource mobilization and investment in the water sector in rural areas.
It is hoped that this will be as effective in efforts to reach millions of African living in rural areas to successfully attain the MDG targets for water and sanitation.

Jallow said the AfDB annual financing for water and sanitation in 2010 was US$700 million and that based on its lending programme for 2012-2013, the bank expects to US$1 billion per annum as planned.

“The Africa Water Vision articulates the water ideal for Africa, which is shared by several international organizations and African governments. It proposes a framework with a number of targets and milestones to be reached by 2025, through a collective effort,” he said.

“The AfDB contributes by accentuating its focus on the water and sanitation sector, through increased investments, from US$ 70 million per annum 2002 to US$700 million in 2010, capacity building, and by working with governments to influence policy change and institutional reforms to create the enabling environment needed for effectively developing the sector”.

Jallow added that directly in line with the vision, the AfDB has developed an agricultural sector business plan, improved water storage capacity in Africa annually as well as hydropower generation.

“It is hoped that our contribution will give the impetus necessary for achieving the vision, that is, despite the number of challenges that call for some adjustments, such as climate change and population growth,” he said.

Jallow said the most visible impacts of climate change appear in water-related phenomena, such as droughts and floods, which also show that climate change adds an extra burden to the existing challenges Africa is facing with regard to water resources management.

He said the bank’s climate change approach for water addresses both mitigation and adaptation. “Our mitigation approach is one where we emphasize the capture of methane from waste water treatment plants, increase the use of solar energy to power water pumping systems, and develop hydropower potential, all of which can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“As for adaptation, the bank invests in increasing resilience to droughts by improving water storage capacity, with projects such as the construction of large dams and small scale reservoirs, in addition to groundwater recharge and rainwater harvesting,” Jallow said.

“We help countries better manage floods by investing in the improvement of urban drainage systems and water shed management.
“The bank has learned that certainty of water availability during drier days can be greatly improved with the adoption and implementation of a long term water resources management strategy, as well as hydro-meteorological data monitoring and sharing.
Given the high number of shared river basins and aquifer systems in Africa, this is only possible through improved trans-boundary cooperation,” he said.

The bank has therefore been supporting the implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) plans, water efficiency plans in trans-boundary rivers and preparation of trans-boundary water resource infrastructure and services.

In Zambia, the bank group began operations in Zambia in 1971 and has since invested over US$1 billion in all sectors of the country’s economy.

In the water and sanitation sector, the bank has to-date financed 12 operations for about US$ 340 million and has four ongoing projects in Zambia.

Jallow noted that the bank is providing a US$ 23.7 million loan to support the implementation of the National Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (NRWSSP) set up in 2005 to increase access to safe, reliable and convenient quantities of water supply from 37 to 55 percent of the rural population by 2010, and to increase access to proper sanitation from 13 to 33 percent of the rural population by 2010.

In support to the Nkana Water and Sewerage Company, the bank is also involved in a water and sanitation project expected to benefit 474,000 people, many of them considered urban poor of Kitwe, Kalulushi and Chambishi.

The project includes the rehabilitation and extension of their water supply and sanitation systems, and also proposes an awareness campaign on sanitation and hygiene as well as the improvement of service management.

The estimated cost of the project is US$ 61.3 million, to which the bank is contributing USD 55.3 million, covering 90.2 percent of the total project cost.

“The bank is providing financing of US$ 34.8 million for the improvement of the quality and delivery of water supply and sanitation services in eight project centres in Central Province, that is Chibombo, Chisamba, Kabwe, Kapiri-Mposhi, Mkushi, MumbwaNampundwe and Serenje, expected to benefit over 273 000 people,” Jallow said.

“Lastly, the African Water Facility, hosted by the bank, is financing a capacity building and facilitation intervention through a grant of € 719,191, which will directly benefit 5,000 traditional farmers in Mkushi, KapiriMposhi, Masaiti, and Chingola districts.
The project aims at helping farmers use improved water resources management methods and low-cost irrigation technologies, as ways to alleviate poverty and achieve food security,” he said.

“In addition, the project will seek to improve access to affordable irrigation technologies by enhancing the knowledge and capacity of microfinance institutions to provide micro-loans to traditional farmers”.

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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