Call for Africa to invest more in water resources

A group of youths hired by the Water Resources Authority in conjunction with Nairobi County participated in the Cleaning of the Nairobi River.[Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Despite being a continental priority, Africa is contributing barely a fifth of the required financing for water, sanitation and irrigation investments.

Speaking at the Africa Regional Consultations for the 10th World Water Forum, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Water, Sanitation and Irrigation, Zacharia Njeru, sounded the alarm over the massive funding gaps impeding the attainment of Goal 6 of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Agenda 6 envisages the provision of safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030. The CS’s concerns highlight the urgency for ramped-up action as Africa takes stock of its achievements over the last eight years.

“Achieving the 2030 water and sanitation SDG targets requires huge investments in Africa; at least $66 billion annually to provide universal access by addressing infrastructure backlogs,” noted Njeru.

The staggering scale of under-investment was further amplified by figures from the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa, which estimates an annual investment gap of USD43-56 billion. Moreover, an additional USD9-14 billion per year is required to achieve secure water resources across the continent.

The Water CS emphasised that bold steps must be taken to bridge these yawning funding chasms. “To address this gap, we need a 12-fold increase in progress on safely managed drinking water access, 20 times more for safely managed sanitation, and a 42-fold increase for basic hygiene services. We urgently need our finance colleagues to commit more resources,” he said

Njeru’s clarion call underscores that water and sanitation are not just goals unto themselves, but enablers for sustainable development across multiple sectors like health, education, food production and climate resilience. Failure to achieve the targets will severely constrain Africa’s socio-economic transformation.

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