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Africa is no longer a dumping ground for obsolete technologies – Water Ministers PDF Print E-mail

The era of exporting obsolete technologies to Africa in the guise of meeting the continent’s infrastructure needs in the water and sanitation sector is over, say African water ministers.

Ministers responsible for water and sanitation from across Africa made this declaration at the just concluded Africa Focus sessions of the ongoing 2017 World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden.

Speaking on behalf of the president of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), the Egyptian Water and Irrigation Minister, Dr. Mohamed Abdel Atty, reckoned that by the year 2030, global demand for water will grow by 50% and most of this demand will be in the cities. “The need for newer approaches and technologies for wastewater collection, management and reuse therefore becomes imperative” Dr. Atty says.

The Egyptian minister who also doubles as AMCOW Vice President for North Africa region declared that it has become a matter of urgency for Africa to set in motion, “the machinery for the implementation of new game-changing technologies, innovative institutional frameworks and well-designed business models for more effective wastewater management and improved water quality.”

Nomvula Mokonyane, South Africa’s Water and Sanitation minister and panelist at the Africa Focus sessions was vehement in her denunciation of obsolete technologies packaged as aid to Africa. According to her, “Africa’s time to get organised and be proud of herself is now. We must avoid being a Guinea pig for life and arise as lead agent for transformation, adaptation and for new technologies, not for solutions that have been rendered redundant in other places.” “Technical capacity building, knowledge and education therefore have become key priorities for us as Africans,” Minister Nomvula said.

The South African Water Minister strongly urged her colleagues to lead Africa on the path to “dedicated process and programme of progressive implementation, action and performance towards improved water security the sustainable financing.”

Reinforcing this position, Dhesigen Naidoo the CEO of Water Research Commission of the Republic of South Africa added that more than half of the innovative water related inventions in use across the globe today came from Africa and Africans. “Africa is the home of innovations in water and sanitation. All we need to do is to scale up," Naidoo said.

Another panelist at the High Level Ministerial Panel of the Africa Focus session and Nigeria’s water resources minister, Engr. Suleiman Adamu believes that “African solutions are in Africa and effective management of wastewater will not only improve the economies of Africa, but would also improve and promote good health of Africans.”

It is in this light, according to the minister, that “Nigeria is mobilizing resources through the Partnership for Expanded Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) initiative to address the nation’s Water and Sanitation Sub-sector in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goal-6 on water and safe sanitation in both rural and urban areas of the country.”

With home-grown technologies, Dr. Canisius Kanangire, AMCOW’s Executive Secretary envisions a prosperous future for the continent. From what we call waste, Africa can generate wealth, employment and food,” Dr Kanangire added.

 
African ministers spotlight waste to benefit as world water week begins PDF Print E-mail

 

African Water and Sanitation Ministers attending the 2017 World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden have underlined the importance of wastewater to the region’s aspirations for economic growth and sustainable development.

Speaking before and during today’s opening plenary in Central Stockholm, water and sanitation minsters from the five sub-regions in Africa were unanimous in their resolve to adopt and promote effective wastewater management across Africa. According to them, improved wastewater management is not only critical to achieving the Africa Water Vision 2025 and the Sustainable Development Goal on clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), but also to other goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In an address to over 3,100 delegates at the annual water event in Stockholm, Engr. Gerson Lwenge, the Tanzanian minister for Water and Irrigation and President of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), recalled that African Ministers responsible for sanitation took proactive steps before the end of the MDGs era in 2015 by adopting the N’gor Declaration with a commitment that Africa will “progressively eliminate untreated waste by encouraging its productive use.”

Of equal importance to this commitment according to Engr. Lwenge, is “the fact that to actualize the potentials of turning waste to benefits, Africa needs to create the right policy environment and move from policy to effective implementation.” “It is on this basis that the High Level Ministerial Panel at this year’s Africa Focus Sessions will explore possibilities of using science to enrich policy making and increase policy implementation efficiency,” the AMCOW president added.

The Senegalese Hydraulic and Sanitation Minister, Mansour Faye disclosed that this year’s World Water Week and by extension the Africa Focus Sessions, will provide a global platform for him and his colleague Ministers to “discuss policy options and enabling factors that support the adaption and implementation of innovative wastewater management approaches and technologies as well as draw recommendations on how African states can move from waste to benefits.”

To Dr. Mohamed Abdel Atty, the Egyptian Water and Irrigation Minister and AMCOW Vice President for North Africa, AMCOW’s commitment to achieving an Africa where there is equitable and sustainable use and management of water resources for poverty alleviation and socio-economic development, regional cooperation and the environment remains unwavering. “With improved wastewater management particularly in the industrial and agricultural sectors, Africa will be on the firm path to food security and sustainable development” Dr Atty said.

Speaking on behalf of Water and Sanitation Ministers from Southern Africa region at the World Water Week, Mrs Jabulile Mashwama, Kingdom of Swaziland’s Minister for Natural Resources and Energy and AMCOW Vice President (Southern Africa), this year’s world water week provides an opportunity for Africa Ministers “to highlight the vision and aspirations of the water and sanitation community and stakeholders; share evidence and perspectives, as well as policy options on enabling factors that support the adoption and implementation of innovative wastewater approaches.”

From Central Africa region came the voice of caution as Léopold Mboli Fatran, Central African Republic Minister for Water, Mines and Energy and AMCOW Vice President for Central Africa underlined the fact that the quest to turn waste to benefits requires maximizing the resource recovery and reuse potentials in both sewered and non-sewered systems. “If this is not well managed and supported by both government and development partners, the prospects of polluting the eco system, compromising water quality and undermining safe sanitation and hygiene won’t be ruled out” Fatran added.

AMCOW’s Executive Secretary, Dr. Canisius Kanangire agrees with the Central African Minister as faecal sludge and wastewater continually pose threats to human livelihood especially in African cities experiencing population growth due to rural to urban migration. According to Dr. Kanangire, experiences by AMCOW member states show that wastewater can be a resource for irrigation with basic treatment and proper hygiene practices; sludge can be used as a source of energy, and fertilizers.

“The productive use of waste water can generate income, development of micro enterprise and employment, as well as contribute to urban food and energy security. The threat therefore could be turned into opportunities for poverty alleviation” Kanangire says.

Wastewater: the untapped resource

The 2017 UN World Water Development Report states that most human activities that use water produce wastewater. As the overall demand for water grows, the quantity of wastewater produced and its overall pollution load are continuously increasing worldwide. Over 80% of the world’s wastewater and over 95% in some least developed countries is released to the environment without treatment.

The report which dubs wastewater as the “untapped resource” observed that once it is discharged into water bodies, wastewater is either diluted, transported downstream or infiltrates into aquifers, where it can affect the quality (and therefore the availability) of freshwater supplies. The ultimate destination of wastewater discharged into rivers and lakes is often the ocean with negative consequences for the marine environment.

However, with improved and innovative management, wastewater can generate social, environmental and economic benefits essential for sustainable development.

AMCOW and the World Water Week

Established since 2002, the African Ministers' Council on Water (AMCOW) brings together Water and Sanitation ministers from 55 African countries to promote cooperation, security, social and economic development and poverty eradication among member states through the effective management of the continent’s water resources and provision of water.

As Technical Committee for Water and Sanitation of the African Union, AMCOW contributes to Africa’s progress towards sustainable growth and development by providing political leadership in the continent's efforts at achieving effective and efficient management of water resources through the provision of adequate and equitable access to safe water and sanitation

The World Water Week is the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues. Organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), the event brings together experts, practitioners, decision-makers, business innovators and young professionals from a range of sectors and countries to network, exchange ideas, foster new thinking and develop solutions to the most pressing water-related challenges of today.

This year’s theme “water and waste: reduce and reuse” reinforces SIWI’s belief in the relevance of water to global prosperity and the attainment of a water wise world.

 

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