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Climate experts want more money allocated to water projects in Africa

By Protus Onyango | December 7th 2015

Paris, France: Experts at the ongoing climate conference in Paris, Italy want finance for water and climate change adaptation in Africa prioritised.

Under the theme "Seizing Opportunity for Africa: Prioritising Water in the new Climate Financing Mechanism", Han Seung-soo, special envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Water called for more balanced thinking with a view to changing the current trend in climate change negotiations where mitigation always receives more attention than adaptation.

Stressing the need for a holistic approach to sustainable development where disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation are both part of the agenda, Mr Seung-soo lauded the African Union Commission's (AUC) 2063 agenda and described it as "a groundbreaking blueprint for Africa".

"Africa is blessed with a blue economy, and water will be the key to the continent's transformation as we continue to work towards achieving a prosperous continent," he said.

African Natural Resources Centre of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Director Sheila Khama urged African governments to do more in improving water management by reconciling adaptation and mitigation, and using water to reduce the adverse effects of climate change. She called for integrated water resources management across borders.

For the African Ministers' Council on Water (Amcow), Africa is not starting from scratch regarding water even though the challenges appear widespread on the continent.

Amcow Executive Secretary Bai Mass Taal underscored the progress the council has made on the water front.

Principal Investigator of the African Adaptation and Loss and Damage Initiative, African Group of Negotiators (AGN) Chukwumerije Okereke noted the existence of a major data gap in terms of knowing the number of adaptation projects in Africa.

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Common approach

He recommended mandating a single body to keep track of funding for adaptation flowing into Africa.

He also recommended that each African country forms a national council for climate investment that includes donors, diplomats, NGOs and public servants from various ministries to act as an oversight mechanism.

Underscoring the need to shift towards adaptation in climate finance, David Craig of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) revealed that his organisation plans to provide 50 per cent of its funding for adaptation.

He said GCF aims to commit US$1.5 billion over the next 12 months. "Even though we are the new kid on the block with regard to financing, we are doing our best," he said.

Niger Basin Authority Executive Secretary Collins Ihekire noted that 46 per cent of the Niger Basin is located in the driest region of the world.

Africa presently reels under serious water challenges such as shortages, pollution, environmental degradation, floods and poor water management in cities and rural centers.

Prof Judi Wakhungu, Kenya's Minister for Environment said the Government is committed to harvesting water and putting it to good use. "We are building dams to harvest rain water and use it for farming to improve food security," she said

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