Innovative financing mechanisms and diversification of water resources are crucial for Africa to tackle the challenges facing the water sector and achieve sustainable development.
The Vice-President, Ms Samia Suluhu Hassan, said this yesterday in Dar es Salaam at the opening of the 10th African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW).
The AMCOW General Assembly was preceded by the 6th Africa Water Week which commenced on July 18 to 22 with the theme 'achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on water security and sanitation.'
According to the VP, recent global statistics show that about 800 million people still lack access to safe water, while about 2.5 million do not have access to improved sanitation. "Almost these affected people live in developing world and particularly in Africa which accounts for 40 per cent of this population," Ms Hasan said. She added that within an hour, about 400 people mostly children are likely to die in the continent from water linked diseases.
It is estimated that 60 per cent of hospital beds in developing countries are occupied by people suffering from water related diseases.
Ms Hassan said that the common resolve by Africans to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets on water and sanitation has helped about 322 million Africans to have gained access to safe and drinking water and 189 million have access to an improved sanitation.
She, however, said that Africa is currently experiencing high population growth and expansion of its cities accompanied by accelerated economic activities, thus call for collaborative efforts to make deliberate considerations on the requirements for water related sanitation.
"These challenges are many and require bold and decisive solutions ... we must tackle future challenges by diversifying our sources of water and being innovative in our financing mechanisms, taking into account huge funding requirements for the sector," Ms Hassan observed.
She added that there was a need for agency of mobilising funds to put the right infrastructure and skilled manpower to develop and manage the sector more efficiently. Ms Hassan, however, reaffirmed the commitment by the fifth phase government to initiate strategic industrial growth in key areas including adding value to agricultural products.
"This anticipated industrial growth is likely to attract expansion of the agricultural sector with notable expansion of irrigated land and general increase in farming activities in the country.
She said more water abstraction from the ecosystem will be required in a sustainable manner in order to achieve sustainable development. Speaking to the 'Daily News', AMCOW Executive Secretary, Mr Bai Mass Taal, said that attainment of SGDs need proper financing mechanism.
According to him, Africa needs 11 billion USD per year for the implementation of its projects, thus without proper financing it will be difficult for the continent to achieve its goals. He called upon African governments to allocate more funds for the water sector in order to address the impending problems. "This conference is crucial because it gives us an opportunity to sit down and draw out our strategies and road map on financial mechanisms to achieve the SGDs."
Mr Taal said. He further noted that African governments should act now on water problems facing its people, adding that approximately 340 million people in Africa have no access to drinking water. Mr Taal commended the development partners for supporting Africa in water and sanitation projects and called for further support for the continent to attain SDGs.
For her part, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Ms Rhoda Tumisiime, said that the theme for the 6th Africa Water week and the 10th AMCOW General Assembly is timely because it is in line with the theme of the 2016 AU summit.