The New Times (Kigali)

4 December 2012

Rwanda: Regional Forum to Discuss Financing for Water and Sanitation

Despite current efforts to boost financing for water and sanitation, the fragile sector that is expected to steer most African economies is still under financed, experts have revealed.

The sector saw a modest increase in financing from $1.9 million to $2.1 million in the continent between 2008 and 2010; an outlook analysts say needs to be propped up.

"We are looking at how we can stimulate the much needed change in the water, sanitation and hygiene in Africa focusing on better financing," Marcelline Kayitesi, Resident Representative of pan African intergovernmental agency, Water and Sanitation for Africa said, during a press briefing on the up coming high level forum yesterday in Kigali.

Organised by Water and Sanitation for Africa in collaboration with the Government of Senegal, the Second High Level Forum is scheduled to take place from December 12-14 in Dakar, Senegal.

Kayitesi observed the need to foster increased financing for the sector to boost access to water for all and also support development on the continent, noting that Rwanda had taken strides to increase access to water for all.

"We have to look at which models work and the opportunities that exist for leveraging resources from nontraditional sources in light of growing competing needs for donor funding and the current global economic crisis," she said

Fulfilling these commitments will require effective coordination between governments, donors, financial and development partners, civil society and private sector to ensure increased prioritisation and allocation of financing for the sector.

Accordingly, the forum will provide the space for critical reviews of the present financing and investment models in the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector.

"Issues of absorptive capacities will be analysed and a shift of focus from the paradigm of aid and charity to more sustainable business models and sustainable development practices," she said.

Kayitesi disclosed that the forum will also mark the official launch of WSA's financial facility for investment into small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Dubbed Sanitation and Water for Africa Development Initiative Fund (SWADIF), the facility aims at improving the quality of existing services and infrastructure to address challenges in the sector.

"There is evidence of growing vibrancy in planning and mobilising resources for the sector," she noted, adding that this will achieve the development of workable and mutually beneficial partnerships between investors and innovators.

She further noted that the forum will facilitate linkages and the engagements between investors and innovators towards expansion and scaling up of innovation on WASH products and sanitation services in the continent.

Analysts say that previously, little attention was paid to active promotion of innovation with regard to products and services, adding that the delivery of WASH interventions was largely traditional.

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