African Development Bank (AfDB), the Nordic Development Fund (NDF), and the government of Denmark have teamed up to strengthen access to climate-resilient water and sanitation resources in five African countries.
The partnership, through a programme, is expected to strengthen recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mali, Niger and Somalia.
Water-related diseases and poor hygiene and sanitation practices are leading causes of death among children under the age of five, according to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
In Somalia, for instance, only 52 percent of the country’s population have access to a basic water supply and other WASH-related services.
People often live in overcrowded camps without access to safe water thus diseases and malnutrition spread even faster.
According to the bank, the initiative will enhance the sustainability of water systems through the construction or upgrade of existing infrastructure.
The programme is also expected to support feasibility studies to prepare bankable projects that improve financing for human health, child education, economic productivity, water, sanitation and hygiene services.
‘Safely managed water, sanitation, and hygiene services are an essential part of preventing and protecting human health during infectious disease outbreaks, including the current Covid-19 pandemic’, Head of AfDB Water Development and Sanitation Department, Osward Chanda, said in a statement.
‘The Covid-19 recovery period is an opportunity to promote greater, equitable, sustainable and resilient access to WASH’.
The initiative also seeks to provide technical assistance to institutions and mitigate climate-related flood and drought risk in the target countries that experience a highly variable climate including irregular rainfall and persistent drought.
Chief Advisor in the Denmark Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tobias von Platen-Hallermund, said the project would focus on extant WASH facilities.
‘The program will focus on immediate improvements, through rehabilitation, expansion and climate proofing of existing water supply systems, sanitation and handwashing facilities’, he said.
‘In the longer term, the programme will focus on preparing projects that are investment ready’.
The NDF Programme Manager, Aage Jorgensen, who spoke during World Water Week held virtually in August, said $93 billion was needed annually to bridge the gap.
‘Resilient infrastructure is at the core of the African development process. An investment of $93 billion per year will be required for the next decade to fill Africa’s infrastructure gap’, Jorgensen said.
Photo source: World Bank Photo Collection