This is to wish you and your loved ones happy holidays as we celebrate Christmas and New Year 2024. For us, it is also a perfect moment to look back at what can be described as an eventful 2023.
On behalf of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) family, and indeed myself, I would like to express our gratitude for all your support throughout the year. We highly value your collective efforts towards advancing Africa’s water and sanitation agenda at all levels.
As 2023 comes to an end, we would like to take a moment and recall some of the notable activities and achievements across the year.
Fresh in our minds is the 7th Edition of the African Sanitation and Hygiene (AfricaSnan7) Conference, successfully convened with the Africa Union Commission (AUC) and hosted by the Republic of Namibia from 6 – 11 November. Held in the historic coastal city of Swakopmund, the conference gathered about 850 delegates, including 30 Ministers, heads of delegations, and dignitaries, as well as 15 exhibitors. The main outcome of the Conference was the Swakopmund Declaration on “Accelerated Actions for Inclusive, Sustainable and Resilient Sanitation and Hygiene Services Delivery in Africa“. The Declaration also amplified the calls for the African Union to adopt water and sanitation as the theme for the year 2026. Further, AfricaSan7 provided the platform for the launch of the 2023 Ngor Commitments Monitoring Report and outstanding contributions to Africa’s Sanitation as well as Hygiene were recognised and celebrated through awards under different categories.
The 13th General Assembly of the Governing Council of AMCOW hosted by the Arab Republic of Egypt in Cairo in June was the main highlight for the first half of 2023. The Assembly, attended by 40 Ministers and heads of delegation, took decisions aimed at raising the profile of water and sanitation high in political and socio-economic development planning processes. Among the decisions, the Council, through the Specialized Technical Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment (STC-ARDWE), appealed to the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union to adopt Water and Sanitation as the African Union (AU) theme for 2026.
Earlier in the year, the AMCOW Executive Secretary undertook missions and courtesy visits aimed at reinforcing diplomatic ties and promoting water and sanitation priorities at the Member States’ level. These included courtesy visit to Ghana, Gambia, Sao Tome, Eswatini, Burkina Faso, and Kenya.
In February, during the 21st International Congress of the African Water Association (AfWASA) and the 7th Faecal Sludge Management Conference held in Abidjan, AMCOW convened a few technical sessions. AMCOW Secretariat used one of the sessions to review progress on the utilisation of the Africa Sanitation Policy Guidelines (ASPG) to foster knowledge exchange among Member States and partners. The Congress was also a perfect platform to engage with sanitation partners towards preparations for the AfricaSan7 Conference.
In March, the spotlight was on the “once in a lifetime” United Nations 2023 Water Conference, where sector leaders joined the African Union Commission and AMCOW to launch the 2022 Africa Water and Sanitation Report. Further, key messages constituting Africa’s common position and input were presented during the UN 2023 Water Conference. These messages contributed key outcomes to the Final Report of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Report. Further, African Heads of State committed to five new Presidential Compacts to accelerate access to water and sanitation services, including increasing budget allocations, reducing open defecation, and delivering climate-resilient services.
The month of April allowed us to strengthen the Secretariat’s internal management and fiduciary systems with the introduction of the new NetSuite Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Application. The application, which went live in June, is designed to streamline our operations, enhance overall efficiency, improve accuracy in financial reporting, and ensure compliance with our regulatory requirements.
In May, AMCOW participated in the High-Level dialogue on Transboundary Water Resources Management in Africa in Entebbe, the Republic of Uganda. The event was convened under the auspices of the African Network of Basin Organisations (ANBO). At its conclusions, the “Kampala Declaration on Transboundary Water Resources Management in Africa” was adopted. The declaration sets the agenda and aims to add impetus to ongoing actions to achieve the targets of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and, in turn, the Africa Agenda 2063.
Just before the end of the first half, the AMCOW Secretariat convened an introductory meeting with its 35 Knowledge Management Focal Person from 18 member states. The engagement aimed at fostering water wisdom through collective knowledge creation and exchange among member states.
In August, AMCOW participated in the World Water Week (WWW) 2023. We convened agenda-setting sessions, including the High-Level Africa Focus Day, which provided the platform to discuss issues and shape a water-wise future for Africa. At the WWW, we also launched Africa’s Voice on Water magazine, which aims to cast a spotlight through stories and articles on the progress Africa is making towards water and sanitation goals.
Throughout August, September, and October, AMCOW organised statutory Sub-Regional Ministerial Committee consultations with the Technical Experts Committee (TEC) in Africa’s central, eastern, southern, and western sub-regions. The main outcomes from these engagements were priorities relevant to each sub-region to inform continental policy initiatives.
In October, together with the African Union Commission, through the Directorate of Sustainable Environment and Blue Economy, the 4th African Water and Sanitation Partners’ Coordination Platform (PCP) meeting was convened. The PCP helped to set the stage for developing post-African Water Vision 2025, planning PANAFCON-3, and preparing for the 10th World Water Forum (10WWF).
During the same month, AMCOW, as a World Water Council Board Member, participated in the 10th World Water Forum 2nd Stakeholders’ Consultation Meeting in Bali, Indonesia. At the meeting, the Council signed a “Letter of Intent for Cooperation” to mobilise support across African institutions for the organisation of the 10th WWW.
AMCOW was also co-convener of the Africa Finance Ministers’ Meeting (AFMM) held together with UNICEF and SWA at the end of October. The AFMM aimed to mobilise political buy-in to invest in water and sanitation as a driver of sustained economic growth, improved public health, and a reduction in inequalities.
We closed 2023 with our participation at the AUC Specialised Technical Committee(STC) meeting held from 14 – 17 November in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. At the STC, AMCOW submitted the 2022 Annual Report of the Commission on the implementation of the July 2008 Assembly Declaration on the Sharm El Sheikh Commitments for Accelerating the Achievement of Water and Sanitation Goals in Africa. The 5th STC on ARDWE took several decisions related to water and sanitation as follows:
- Endorsed for submission to the Assembly the 2022 annual report of the commission on the July 2008 Assembly Declaration regarding the Sharm el-Sheikh Commitments for accelerating the achievement of water and sanitation goals in Africa (Assembly/AU/Decl.1 (XI)).
- Endorsed for submission to the Ministerial Committee on Agenda 2063, the request to adopt an African Union theme on water and sanitation for 2026.
- Approved the proposal to adopt “assuring sustainable water availability and safe sanitation systems to achieve the goals of Agenda 2063” as the African Union theme of the year 2026.
- Endorsed the 2023 report on the implementation of the 2015 Ngor Declaration.
- Endorsed for submission to the Assembly the Swakopmund Declaration on “accelerated action for inclusive, sustainable, resilient and safely managed sanitation and hygiene services delivery in Africa”.
- Underscored the key role of the Member States and encouraged them to actively engage in the ongoing processes to formulate the post-2025 Africa Water Vision.
AMCOW Secretariat remains very grateful to Member States for their continued support and solidarity. Special thanks to our partners, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the Swedish International Development Corporation Agency (SIDA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
We are now looking forward to 2024 with much anticipation. The year 2024 marks the beginning of a defining moment as we cast our focus on the development of the Post-2025 Africa Water Vision. We only have two years before the current Africa Water Vision 2025 expires. The Vision, which could also be described as a precursor to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals – in terms of its ambition- has served as the ultimate guide and framework for Africa’s water and sanitation sector development. We remain confident in our collective ability to set the agenda and develop a Post-2025 Africa Water Vision aligned with the aspirations of Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want!
May the festive season bring you and your loved ones joy and true happiness.
Dr Rashid Mbaziira
African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW)