Put water at the centre of the social and economic development

Central Africa is endowed with abundant water resources. Indeed, the annual water needs per inhabitant are estimated at 1700 m3. In 2007 a volume of 2400 m3 was available to every inhabitant of the region.

Yet the countries of the region are facing many challenges almost all of which are water-related. Countries in the region must therefore address several challenges (social, economic and institutional) to ensure water security. On the social aspect, it was noted in 2004 that about 40 million people did not have access to drinking water especially in rural and suburban areas, and 800 million people did not have access to water sanitation. Infant mortality rate, from birth to five years old, is very high (240 per thousand in Angola). Approximately 780,000 people are exposed to drought, 860,000 to flooding and 70% of diseases are waterborne.

 

Economically it is noted that despite the abundance of water resources for irrigation and fertile land, only 0.3% of these farms are irrigated, while in 2004, 59 million people suffered from malnutrition. In a region with the second highest hydro electricity potential in the world, less than 7% of this potential is developed and only 16% of the population has access to electricity; a situation which does not encourage private investment in the sector.


From the point of view of institutions, there is a lack or non-functioning of institutions that unify all the sector’s stakeholders. Human resources are aging and non-renewed, and there is lack of consistency in the sector’s management policies. There are insufficient basin organizations, no centre for information on water, and low public investment in the sector.

 

To improve water security there are five major challenges to address: having to mobilize political will at the highest level to put water at the centre of development policies, improving water governance, the efficient use of water, the promotion of investment in the sector and the supply of water to suburban and rural areas.

 

GWP Central Africa’s actions in the region include lending support to competent authorities to translate the statements and commitments of Central African Heads of State and Government into concrete actions. This, for example, is the case of the regional water policy for Central Africa adopted by the ECCAS Heads of State and Government on 24 October 2009.

 

GWP-CAf also contributes to the development of management tools in order to help countries to practically implement sustainable management of water resources and help achieve the Millennium Development Goals. One of the areas in which GWP-CAf is presently involved is the development of a sustainable regional funding mechanism for the water sector. It is the result of studies on the funding of this sector in Central Africa over the past five years.

GWP-CAf’s proposal was presented to stakeholders of the region during a regional workshop in May 2010 in Douala. Among the participants of this workshop were the ADB, ECCAS, BDEAC and the region’s ministries in charge of water, finance, economy and planning.