On Sunday, 4th World Water Forum participants addressed the Forum framework theme of “Water Supply and Sanitation for All,” convening in plenary and thematic sessions. Africa took center stage on this fourth day of the Forum, as the continent’s water challenges were addressed in the regional presentation and various thematic sessions, and its vibrant culture presented in traditional performances held throughout the venue.
Francis Bougaïré, Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Agriculture, Hydraulics and Fisheries, opened and moderated the Africa regional presentation. Maria Mutagamba, Uganda’s Minister of State for Water and President of the African Ministerial Conference on Water (AMCOW), stated that the objectives of the presentation are to review recent progress in water management, focus global attention on Africa and mobilize global support. She emphasized that while Africa appreciates aid, trade has more potential to reduce poverty.
Loïc Fauchon, President of the World Water Council (WWC), acknowledged the positive work conducted by African organizations including AMCOW and the African Water Facility, highlighted the importance of technology, and called for the creation of an emergency task force to ensure appropriate aid delivery.
Cristóbal Jaime Jáquez, Co-Chair of the 4th World Water Forum and Director General of the Mexican National Water Commission (CONAGUA), noted that water problems faced by Africa are shared by other regions, in particular those concerning rural water access, and hoped that the 4th Forum would generate support needed to bring water solutions to the continent.
Kordjé Bedourma, Director of the African Water Facility, presented the Africa regional report, noting that 300 million Africans currently lack access to basic water and sanitation. He said the report’s key message is that Africa must build water infrastructure, including large dams, in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), sustainable development and growth. He also prioritized action on water governance and transboundary water management, and urged the international community to enhance its support to the continent.
José Dioné, UN Economic Commission for Africa, presented an advance copy of the Africa regional report to Mutagamba, highlighting that the processes that countries underwent in contributing to the report should be mainstreamed into national policy-making procedures.
Outman Djame, Minister of Water and Fisheries of Chad, read out the African Ministerial Declaration to the 4th Forum, which calls, inter alia, for improving: development of water resources through infrastructure, environmental protection, transboundary water management, integrated water resources management (IWRM), and early warning systems for natural disasters. The Declaration also emphasizes: increased investments and stakeholder involvement; adequate governance and policy networks; capacity building; eradication of water-borne diseases; and making sanitation a top priority.
Discussing the challenge of urbanization and water resources development in Africa, Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director, UN-HABITAT, said water is a key indicator of how society manages environment and development, as well as an indicator of social justice and sustainability. She reiterated that without clean water, health and development targets will not be achieved, stressed the need to address urban water issues, and announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Development Bank for the release of approximately US$ 550 million for meeting the MDG water target in Africa.
Jamal Saghir, Director of Energy and Water, World Bank, discussed water infrastructure development in Africa, stressing the links between water and poverty and the extent of the infrastructure challenges ahead. He commended the work of AMCOW and emphasized the need to achieve water security in the region in order to achieve international development goals.
Noting that France has committed to doubling its efforts in water and sanitation, Jean-Christophe Deberre, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, discussed the role of external support agencies in water development in Africa. He stressed the need for effective follow-up efforts, collective action, intelligence gathering and mobilization.
Michel Jarraud, World Meteorological Organization, discussed climate change and risk management challenges in Africa. He described the extreme impacts of droughts and floods in Africa and their links to climate change, and stressed the need to recognize, forecast and plan for these extremes and to monitor and gather accurate information to effectively assess, manage and mitigate risk.
During the session, African children delivered a message to the 4th Forum, urging participants to work with them as future leaders of Africa in delivering water to the continent.