- AfDB invests $6bn in sanitation, hygiene improvements
- Population in 34 of 38 SSA countries lack access to basic handwashing facilities
- Africa achieving SDG-6 by 2030 promotes AU’s agenda 2063 – UNEP
Investment in innovative sanitation and wastewater management by Nigeria and 33 other sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries, which is condensed in the UN sustainable development goal 6 (making water and sanitation available to everyone), provides clear chances to boost their health and economic growth, as the world seeks to recover better, post-Covid-19, says a report by the African Development Bank, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and GRID-Arendal.
Known as “Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas of Africa,” a tool to benchmark and propel Africa’s progress towards sustainable development goals on safe sanitation and wastewater management, the Atlas aims to help policymakers in SSA nations accelerate change and investment in the sector.
The result of four years of collaboration, the Atlas assessed progress and highlighted opportunities where investment in sanitation and wastewater management can improve health and spur economic growth. The publication incorporates maps, graphics and profiles of all African countries, including analyses of their water resources and provision of basic services. It also explored the links between sanitation and wastewater and ecosystem health and human health, and discussed frameworks and circular economy approaches that can lead to better infrastructure and systems.
According to the report, more than half of the population in 34 out of 38 sub-Saharan Africa nations lack access to basic handwashing facilities. It recommended investment in the necessary policies, infrastructure and human skills capacities to operationalize actions towards the achievement of goals and targets in the 2030 agenda, including those for sustainable sanitation and wastewater management.
“Africa cannot have a healthy society without adequate access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene,” said Wambui Gichuri, the AfDB’s acting vice president for agriculture, human and social development.
He said in the past 10 years, the bank has invested more than $6 billion in sanitation and hygiene improvements, but much more financing is needed from the private sector, development finance institutions (DFIs), governments and other sources.
“The new ‘Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas of Africa’ can inform strategic investment going forward,” Gichuri said.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has sharpened an already existing need to upgrade Africa’s water and sanitation infrastructure. The report’s authors urge African governments to incorporate sanitation and wastewater programmes into their post-COVID-19 strategic planning.
Leticia Carvalho, head of UNEP’s marine and freshwater branch, has advised SSA countries to prioritize wastewater and sanitation infrastructure so as to be able to achieve the SDG goal 6 by 2030.
“As the world seeks to recover better after COVID-19, prioritizing wastewater and sanitation infrastructure in Africa is critical. Sustainable Development Goal 6, which calls for making water and sanitation available to everyone, is within reach by 2030 if we commit the needed resources. The Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas of Africa provides the tools for policymakers to focus on this important challenge,” Carvalho said.
In addition to advancing SDG Goal 6, the Atlas is expected to promote the African Union’s agenda 2063, as well as the Africa Water Vision for 2025, an initiative of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the AfDB and the African Union.
Meanwhile, Clever Mafuta, head of the waste programme at GRID-Arendal, a Norwegian non-profit organisation established to support the work of UNEP, said, via the Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas of Africa report, “we have gathered a wealth of information on practical and transformative solutions for wastewater management and the provision of sanitation services, which can help to boost public health and secure the sustainability of Africa’s natural resources.”