Toward Achieving Water Security and Safely Managed Sanitation for Africa

Sub Theme 1: Water Security: Infrastructure, Investments and Innovation

Water security for Africa does not suggest a single answer, since the demands on Africa’s water resources are diverse. What is clear though is that significant investment must be made in Africa’s water management institutions, its infrastructure, and its ability to make trade-offs where needed, compromises when possible, and synergies that show how to achieve “win-win-wins” between water, agriculture, and energy.

To help ensure water security for Africa, there is a general consensus that member countries must focus on provision and operation of appropriate water infrastructure – including natural infrastructure – that could directly increase the security of ecosystem services, agricultural production, and energy, as well as water services for domestic uses and waste-water management in urban and rural areas. This can be done through leveraging investments across the interconnecting sectors in providing infrastructure that engenders water security and applying other innovative approaches in policy formulation and promotion of best practices proven from across Africa and the world. There is also the focus on developing a catalogue of innovative practices, including experiences in fields such as water supply technologies, water harvesting, sanitation alternatives, water quality and wastewater treatment, community management, and water efficiency.

Sub theme 1 on Water Security: Infrastructure, Investments and Innovation will therefore feature sessions on such areas as addresses a variety of actions including cross sectoral investments meant to influence the methods by which water security may be achieved.

Sub Theme 2: Choices, Approaches and Actions for safely managed sanitation in Africa by 2030

Safely managed sanitation means ensuring that faecal waste is safely contained and safely disposed or reused. Safely managed sanitation also includes the elimination of open defecation from communities and ensuring access and use of sanitation facilities that allow for safe faecal waste treatment, disposal/reuse.
Experience in countries around the world lends evidence to the understanding that accelerating inclusive sanitation service coverage requires a mix of sewered and non-sewered sanitation solutions, particularly in urban settings. Deploying sanitation systems that use adaptive, expandable, decentralized sanitation infrastructure are significantly more cost-effective. Mixing non-sewered sanitation (including non-water based approaches and new innovative technologies as they become available) and sewerage solutions can improve a city’s resiliency to economic, demographic and environmental shocks. Another critical piece of safely managed sanitation is ensuring a sanitation service authority that must be clearly responsible for and resourced to ensure equitable, inclusive and safe sanitation services.
Government and decision makers are still struggling to understand how an inclusive sanitation approach, including non-sewer sanitation services, can be developed and operated to benefit the majority of Africans. Sub theme 2 will aggregate technical sessions on the choices, approaches and actions for immediate to achieving safely managed sanitation in Africa by 2030 using an inclusive range of existing and new sanitation technologies, innovative business models, and other creative approaches.

Sub theme 3: Water Governance: re-engineering the IWRM, the nexus approach in action

Water is unique national resource since it is not merely intended for human consumption, but it is also essential for a secure, land-based food chain, fishing stocks and energy to name a few. One of Africa’s “unending” capacity development challenges is the transfer of IWRM knowledge to governmental and sector professionals in countries. This is in such a manner that all Member States are routinely working to improve their IWRM Plans, and in so doing, are routinely improving good water governance in their respective nations, while better managing shared water resources that they might have with neighboring States.

The first emphasis on a nexus approach to water security is meant to facilitate the dialogue between these critical sectors such that all parties see benefits. It is critical to pay attention on how resources are allocated such that water, energy, and agriculture security are ensured for an ever-growing and urbanizing population given the additional pressures of climate change.

The other emphasis is the recognition that good water governance, particularly as it relates to transboundary waters, is a critical step toward harmonious and sustainable development, and to water conflict avoidance, cooperation and water security.

Sub theme 3 will feature sessions that:

  1. Promote the water, food, energy and climate nexus in national development planning
  2. Support the creation of an enabling environment for regional cooperation on shared waters in all major shared rivers/lakes/aquifers.
  3. Promote cooperative arrangements/institutions to implement the African Water Vision 2025 and the targets under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal for Water and sanitation SDG 6 in all major river/lake/aquifer basins.
  4. Provide guidance to help local institutions establish and operate basin-wide physical monitoring, data collection, data analysis and reporting systems.

Sub theme 4: Financing the Africa’s SDG 6 ambitions: Beyond political declarations…

The financing challenge to provide sustainable water and sanitation services to the growing world population, which is estimated to surpass 9 billion people by 2050 is becoming daunting. This is even more challenging in Sub-Saharan Africa where significantly greater capital spending is needed and where slow progress to date means capital expenditures of 0.64 percent of the gross regional product (GRP) would be needed to close the gap when compared with Southern Asia which requires 0.21 percent (range: 0.13 to 0.29 percent) of GRP.


The SDG 6 commitments equally signed up to by African Governments are highly ambitious. When viewed in perspective of the relatively low performance of the continent in the implementation of the MDG 7 targets, this calls for strategic actions especially as it relates to financing the sector. Water infrastructure is costly and requires extensive planning and huge investments. Water service charges are often too low to recoup investment costs, which makes it unattractive to commercial financiers or operators.


Sub theme 4 will welcome seminar convening on what practical actions governments can undertake beyond political declarations, and which holds the promise of inclusive and sustainable economic growth for all countries while making case for more focus on investment in water infrastructure development

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