bulletin of the AFRICA PROGRESS PANELVolume 5, Issue 6 — 22 March 2012
Africa Progress Panel
9-11 rue de Varembé
1202 Geneva, Switzerland
Tel +41 (0)22 919 7520
Turning the tap on water
A week before the opening of the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille, the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) announced that MDG 7c - which seeks to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015 - has been met globally. This announcement should be cause for celebration amongst populations, governments and civil society as a whole. So why, then, did this important achievement go almost unnoticed?
Is it due to the concern that donor interest may decline once the target has been met? Or to possible skepticism over the findings of the JMP report? The document monitors the number of people accessing “improved” water points. However, as Gerard Payen, member of UNSG's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation states, ‘improved sources’ doesn’t mean ‘safe water’. And indeed, according to Water for People’s Ned Breslin, the report’s conclusions run the risk of being overestimated because they do not take into consideration the functionality of access points nor the quality of the water distributed.
The cool reception is probably a mix of the above combined with the fact that this positive global result masks worrying geographical disparities.
In sub-Saharan Africa, progress towards the target is off-track. While 273 million people in the region have gained access to drinking water since 1990, close to 40% of the population - mostly rural dwellers and poor people - have not. And the region is even further from achieving adequate access to sanitation, with 500 million people effectively neglected. Not to mention the unacceptable fact that around 750,000 children under five die every year from unsafe water. Add to this the burden that poor water supply puts on women and girls, who are usually in charge of fetching the precious liquid, and the consequences of the current situation on other MDGs – from health to education - become clear.
What were the solutions offered in Marseille to tackle the issue of access to clean water in Africa? First, according to Bai-Mas Tall, Executive Secretary of the African Minister’s Council on Water, African Ministers now recognize that ‘water is a driving force for economic development’ that can yield high return on investment, in addition to having a great social impact. As a result, investing in water infrastructure at the national and regional levels is a growing priority. Second, African governments are committed to strengthening partnerships between the public and private sectors, as well as with other key stakeholders in order to keep water issues on donors’ agendas and raise the resources necessary to ensure that acceptable levels of safe water provision are reached on the continent. Third, it was recognized that failing to involve local communities in water management will compromise results. In addition to these, the launching of the refinancing of the two financial facilities of the Africa Development Bank for water access and sanitation, particularly in rural areas, was well received with initial pledging exceeding 100 million $, and benefiting from contribution of seven African countries. A remarkable development indeed.
However, time is of the essence. Much remains to be done to reduce access disparities between the rich and the poor, between urban and rural areas, and between men and women. To achieve this feat will require a concerted focus on water in Africa over the next few years. The upcoming Rio+20 Summit in June is a good opportunity to strengthen commitments and place water and sanitation issues at the top of the political agenda.
- Mali's president has been ousted in a military coup just one month before his term was due to finish and the country was scheduled to hold elections. The recent developments in Mali are considered as a dangerous step backward for a country which was a model for African democracy. Analysts warn of similar unrest in Senegal if runoff elections are not seen as transparent.
- Guinea-Bissau is headed for a Presidential run-off sometime next month following Sunday's first round of voting, where no single candidate won a majority. Voters are hopeful the electionwill stabilize this coup-prone nation marred by a military assassination and the recent death of the president.
- Sudan and South Sudan have agreed on basic reforms, providing a framework that gives citizens basic freedom in both nations, and allows citizens of the other State to live, work and own property on either side of the border, and travel freely between both nations.
- Anxiety over election dates is cleared with the recent announcement by the Kenyan Electoral Commission that the country’s next presidential and parliamentary elections under the new constitution will be held in March 2013. This will be the first election since the violent clashes that took place within the country following the last election in 2007.
- The ICC has convicted Thomas Lubanga, the Congolese warlord for child conscription, a move that is, on the one hand, hailed as a warning to other warlords, and on the other, seen as inadequate given the range of crimes committed by Lubanga.
- African Ministers at the recently concluded 6th World Water Forum in Marseille adopted a position paper reiterating their commitment to achieving the MDGs related to clean drinking water and sanitation. They recognized the need for increased water infrastructure to solve the water crisis facing the region.
- AfDB supports clean energy and road infrastructure development in Kenya with $336m loans and grants
- AfDB water initiatives receive Government pledges of €45m from Chad, the Republic of Congo and France
- African Parliamentarians from over 40 countries agree to step up efforts to improve the business environment on the continent
- African negotiators to the forthcoming Rio+20 conference on sustainable development, to be held in June, met for a training session on negotiation techniques
- African civil society bodies call for people-oriented approach for AfDB’s Long Term Strategy for 2013 to 2022, which is currently being formulated
- AU fails to break leadership deadlock during talks in the Benin port of Cotonou, highlighting divisions that have repeatedly hindered its decision-making.AU peacekeeping force to take command of Kenyan troops in Somalia, according to a Kenyan military official
- EAC to launch multi-million dollar health project aimed at improving public health by increasing rapid accessibility to quality medicines
- EAC resolves to remove all roadblocks set up on Tanzanian highways by December this year in an effort to ease trade between EAC states
- ECOWAS calls for Mali ceasefire, saying it will take all necessary measures to support the country's government
- ECOWAS Bio-Energy Forum opens in Bamako as part of an effort to support the development of regional and national bio-energy strategies to help member states meet the energy needs of their people
- ECOWAS and the ILO join forces to fight child labour in cocoa-driven West Africa
- IMF approves a three-year $120.97m extended credit facility arrangement and $17.28m disbursement for Niger
- IMF moves on $3.2 billion loan to help Egypt to avert crisis
- The UN Peace building Commission and ADB agree to enhance partnership for resource mobilization, advocacy and policy dialogue on critical peace building issues on the continent
- The UN and 18 African countries and International Organizations set out priorities to reduce the environment and health impacts of electrical and electronic waste and enhance their green job creation and economic development contributions on the continent
- Ethiopia can compete globally in light manufacturing and spur economic growth, says World Bank
- World Bank to help improve investment climate and public financing for growth in Tanzania’s economy
- South Sudan receives a $9m grant from the WB to boost private sector development. This is the first World Bank grant the newly-independent country has received
In the blogs...
- The Guardian’s Poverty Matters Blog: Could abolishing tax havens solve Africa’s financing needs? 19 March 2012 – Charles Abugre argues that if Africa’s increasing wealth is to be channelled into public services, development, and the achievement of the MDGs by 2015, it is important that the problem of tax havens as a conduit for illicit outflows be addressed immediately.
- The World Bank’s Africa Can…End Poverty Blog: Tanzania can benefit from natural gas by empowering people, 16 March 2012 – The author discusses how Tanzania’s 15 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves could be a game-changer for the country, as well as what needs to be done to ensure Tanzanians benefit from, and are empowered by, it.
- The Guardian’s Poverty Matters Blog: Clean drinking water is about people, not pipes, 15 March 2012 –Water policies need to do more than just prioritise infrastructure access and in order to make a truly significant difference, there needs to be a focus on maintaining current infrastructure, deciding who should pay for the upkeep, and ensuring that water is available to everyone all the time.
- The Open Society’s Blog: Lubanga: A landmark decision for international justice, 14 March 2012 – The author discusses the ICC’s judgment last week that found Thomas Lubanga guilty of conscripting, enlisting and using children in armed conflict, and why this ruling is a landmark decision for international justice.
- From Poverty to Power: The only interesting question on Kony2012 – why did it get 60 million hits? 10 March 2012 – Duncan Green, Head of Research for Oxfam GB, discusses what he considers the four main reasons why Kony2012 went viral.
- New Vision (Uganda): Let’s use Kony2012 to do what we ought, 20 March 2012 – Ganzi Muhanguzi, a Ugandan journalist, argues that people have missed the point of Kony2012 and could, as a result, potentially miss an opportunity to do something about Joseph Kony and the LRA.
- The Daily Maverick (South Africa): Ethiopia and Eritrea: brothers in arms, 19 March 2012 – The author discusses the relationship and history between Eritrea ad Ethiopia in light of Ethiopia’s recent “cross-border adventures”.
- The Guardian (UK): Africa can end dependence on aid within a generation, 19 March 2012 – At the recent Times CEO Africa summit in London, former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said there is a “new sense of hope and confidence” in Africa and argued that the continent could end its dependence on aid within a generation.
- The Christian Science Monitor: Teacher in Uganda: Why give celebrity status to a killer in Kony2012? 16 March 2012 - Angella Bulamu, a Ugandan high school teacher, argues that Kony2012 runs the risk of curbing the progress the country has made since Joseph Kony was expelled from the country six years ago.
- The Huffington Post: Nigeria’s ambitious effort to end poverty, 16 March 2012 – Amina Az-Zubair, CEO of the Center for Development Policy Solutions, responds to a report in The Economist that suggests that the Millennium Villages Project in Nigeria failed, and defends the efforts of the government to meet the MDGs.
- allAfrica.com: Zimbabwe: New Zimbabwean constitution not a panacea for free and fair polls, 15 March 2012 – Dewa Machinga, regional coordinator for the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, argues that a new constitution for Zimbabwe is only one step in a series of fundamental reforms that are needed before the country can hold elections.
Now is the time to use water to wash away poverty and underdevelopment
- Ms. Edna Edith Molewa, President of the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW)
- In a bid to revamp operations and enhance regional economic integration, China is injecting $66.2m to the Tanzania-Zambia (TAZARA) railway authority
- The EU signs a $46m deal to finance and strengthen Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies and boost the fight against corruption in the country
- Tanzania receives £55m from the EU to overcome its challenge in providing water to rural communities and achieve its MDG 7 goal
- Socialist candidate François Hollande wants to re-shape France’s relationship with Africa and strengthen engagement with the continent’s democratic and French-speaking countries
- Africa’s energy sectors draw German government’s assistance with a £16m loan to the development of alternative energy sources and technologies in Nigeria and £112m for wind and solar energy development for Egypt
- India will provide financial support worth $5 billion for the development of science and technology in Africa
- Japan vows to further strengthen its development assistance to Africa amidst the Fukushima reconstruction effort
- Russia sends trade delegation to Africa, hoping to increase international collaboration, expand investment and explore the potential for technology sharing and technology exchange with the continent
- The UK and US renew aid partnership for global development with the aim to help change the lives of 1.2 billion poor people in the world
- British medics will train over 17,000 health workers to provide emergency care for mothers and babies in Africa and Asia
- USAID and Japan International Cooperation Agency cooperate to promote investment and financing in the water sector across sub-Saharan Africa
- West Africa, EU and US maritime forces will have joint maritime training to enable the region to face current security challenges including piracy, drug-trafficking, organized crime and terrorism and improve the regional information sharing
- UNFCCC releases COP 17 Report, which consists of the proceedings of the sessions and outlines the action taken by COP 17, including the decisions adopted by the parties.
- The recently released Montpellier Panel report, ‘Growth with resilience: Opportunities in African agriculture’, aims to inform discussions related to key policy events in 2012 and looks broadly at agriculture’s role in supporting green growth, food and nutrition security, ecosystem services and climate change mitigation and adaptation, among others.
- UN report says Congo security forces committed human rights violations during elections
- The World Bank calls on African governments and international donors to increase efforts to prevent new HIV infections in order to control treatment costs. In a new report highlighting countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the bank says existing treatment programs could become unsustainable without a “dramatic” drop in new infections.
- “OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050: The Consequences of Inaction,” presents the latest projections of socio-economic trends over the next four decades, highlighting the urgent need for new thinking to prevent irreversible damage to the environment.
- A study on six large dams in West Africa by the International Institute for Environment and Development shows that securing access to local development benefits can be achieved by involving communities in the planning and constriction of dams.
|22-23 March||AfDB 2012 Fourth Annual Partnerships Forum- “Partnering for a Green and Inclusive Africa:” Tunis, Tunisia|
|22-27 March||Fifth Joint Conference of the African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia|
|24 March||Gambia Parliamentary Elections|
|26-29 March||Planet under Pressure Conference (International Conference focusing on Solutions to the Global Sustainability Challenge): London, United Kingdom|
|27 March||Emerging Trends in Japan-Africa Relations organized by Chatham House: London, United Kingdom|
|30 March -1 April||Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting: New York, U.S.A|
|1-3 April||First Africa Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Youth Employment, Human Capital Development & Inclusive Growth: Nairobi, Kenya|