SADC countries hold validation workshop of the AMCOW Sub-Regional Report for the World Water Forum 7

A validation workshop of the Africa Ministerial Council on Water (AMCOW) Sub-Regional Report for the World Water Forum 7 took place on 15th January 2015 at Birchwood Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa. The workshop was aimed at obtaining technical alignment from country contributions at sub regional level, under a sub-regional workshop organized by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)– as a sub region secretariat of AMCOW.

Pursuant to the preparations and inputs for the World Water Forum (WWF) 7, AMCOW has been consulting and sensitising its member Ministers of Water and Sanitation in Africa as well as the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) that play the role of sub-Regional Coordinators. AMCOW has also been consulting and sensitising a number of key International Cooperating Partners (ICPs) as well as funding organisations like the African Development Bank (AfDB). It is against this background that GWPSA through SADC organised the validation workshop of the AMCOW Sub-Regional Report for the World Water Forum 7.

39 Participants from most SADC member states attended the workshop. The workshop thus contributed to the continental AMCOW report to the WWF 7, through the AMCOW validation mechanism.

Besides the contents of this Synthesis Report being shared as part of the AMCOW Report to the WWF7, the other main objective of this SADC Regional Synthesis Report on “Infrastructure for Sustainable Water Resource Management and Services” was to showcase the efforts and strides that the SADC Region has made and has taken in achieving:

  • a conducive enabling environment for water infrastructure development;
  • water infrastructure development in the SADC Region; and
  • the promotion of sustainability in water infrastructure and water resource management

The Synthesis Report also highlights the challenges faced and the lessons learnt to date pursuant to the provision of water resource infrastructure in the SADC Region.

The workshop thus addressed three critical objectives by:

  • Validating the Draft sub- regional report on Infrastructure for sustainable water resource management and services.
  • Inputting into and making comments on how the Draft sub-regional report can be improved to ensure that it is a true representation of the status quo in the SADC region.
  • Assisting the SADC Water Division in finalizing the sub-regional report on Infrastructure for sustainable water resources management and services.

The meeting was officially opened by Dr. T. Moema, special advisor to the Minister of Water and Sanitation.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Moema noted that the World Water Forum 7 is taking place in the year that the world is taking stock of achievements of the MDGs and taking the process forward to the development of the Post 2015 Sustainable development Goals. 

He noted that it is therefore important that Africa therefore focuses its attention in ensuring that the Africa Water Vision 2025 of “an Africa where there is an equitable and sustainable use and management of water resources for poverty alleviation, socio-economic development, regional cooperation and environment” is not lost but achieved.

Workshop participants in this regard were urged to focus the validation and regional process through the following objectives:

  • -Provide guideline and give an African perspective and position on the Water Agenda in the global governance platforms;
  • -Work together as Africa with a view to gunner support for the distinct water and sanitation goal as reflected as Goal 6  on the UN Post 2015 Draft Document;  and
  • -Ensure that the process is streamlined within the implementation roadmap leading to the launch of the Post 2015 at United Nations General Assembly with a view of contribution to Africa’s efforts in implementing economic growth and social development programs for enhancing and promoting implementation of sustainable water and sanitation targets within Africa.

Within SADC, Dr. Moema noted that SADC continues to strengthen the water infrastructure development initiatives and validate the sub-regional report on Infrastructure for sustainable water resources management and services. This would assist to ensure that as a region we measure and assess what infrastructure developments have taken place in water resources management and within Transboundary River Basins as a whole. He also noted that there is political good will within the SADC Member States (at the level of Heads of States ) which facilitated the adoption by all Member States of a shared Vision and common Agenda to work together to achieve the SADC regional goal.

He noted that the progress in achieving the MDGs in Africa has not been maximised. In RSA for instance, millions are still without adequate sanitation. This current process will help address the problems experienced in achieving the MDGs Water infrastructure plays an important role in economic development in Africa and in mitigating climate change impacts. Therefore, there is a need to build capacity in the SADC region and to look into the following:

  • How is the region going about developing infrastructure?
  • How is the region contributing to winning investors ‘confidence for infrastructure development?
  • Has the region developed adequate and sufficient economic arguments for increasing investments?
  • How is the region integrating mining and industrialisation in the whole development process?

There were also some concerns about the development of infrastructure for regional integration and whether the RIDMP has been able to achieve its objectives and cover the whole region. It is important to note that this process is highly time-sensitive and has to fit within a pre-defined schedule. The ultimate objective would be to share our experiences, successes and challenges with the rest of the world.

The importance of joint infrastructure development was emphasized as 70& of the resources is shared all over the region. There was an appeal to the MS to brief their ministers as they plan to attend the WWF7.

The WWF7 will have five themes as follows:

  • Enough safe water and decent sanitation for All;
  • Managing risk and uncertainty for resilience and disaster preparedness;
  • Infrastructure for sustainable water resource management and services;
  • Water for food security and energy; and
  • Cooperation for reducing conflict and improving transboundary water management

These five themes are The five WWF7 Water and Sanitation Themes fit-in very well with AMCOW’s 2014-2016 Work Programme.

SADC was requested to develop messages on “Infrastructure for sustainable water resource management and services”. The following are some of the SADC Water Sector Key Messages to the WWF7 as captured from the deliberations of the Validation Workshop of 15 January 2015:

-A Common Vision amongst Member States is a foundation for any cooperation which can be enhanced by Infrastructure development.  

  • -Joint infrastructure projects between two on more Member States have a greater impact, better economic efficiency, and very attractive for funding by investment Partners. However, they have longer gestation periods.
  • -The adapted Rio Principle of water having an economic and social value has inherently made it less attractive for funding Water Infrastructure by the private sector due to the social component thus the need for PPP models whereby Governments address the social component.
  • -Environmental and Social Impact Assessments which incorporate transboundary impact assessments are fundamental for sustainability and peace for affected countries in a transboundary environment.
  • -Unlocking the potential of utilising water as a catalyst for development through river basin organisations establishment and strengthening is vital for sustainable water infrastructure development within a transboundary basin.
  • -Convincing Governments that water plays a major role in national economies is one of the critical steps towards sustainable infrastructure development if Governments buy the idea and invest more money in the water sector.
  • -Resource mobilisation, through regional economic groupings or basin-wide institutions, increases the chances of success due to the inherent increased credibility.
  • -Cooperation within a framework of REC such as SADC increases the chances of reaching Agreements quickly between Member States involved in infrastructure development due to the broader cooperation within a REC which goes beyond the water sector.

Moving forward, the Synthesis report will be shared with AMCOW for inclusion in the Continent Report to the World Water Forum 7. At the WWF 7, Africa as a whole will have a 3hours 30 minutes at which the continental report will be presented.

Additionally, comments that are going to be received during WWF7 regarding the SADC water infrastructure development are expected to be disseminated to SADC Member States and will be considered so as to improve the implementation processes.