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AfDB’s new water policy prioritises sustainable, green growth

The African Development Bank Group’s Board of Directors have approved a new policy on water which prioritises water security and the transformation of water assets to foster sustainable, green and inclusive economic growth in regional member countries.

Since 2010, the AfDB has invested an estimated $6.2billion in water supply and sanitation services delivery. The COVID-19 pandemic though has exposed vulnerabilities caused by under-investment in water, sanitation and hygiene services (WASH) across the African continent.

Despite these challenges the Bank’s active water sector portfolio stood at $4.3billion, comprises of nearly one hundred national projects implemented in 40 countries, and six multinational projects.

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The new policy is meant to promote Africa-wide attainment of a minimum platform of water security. There will be a special focus on areas of fragility, as well as on assisting African countries and sub-regional groups to harness and sustain water resources productivity potential to support development.

Atsuko Toda, AfDB acting vice president for agriculture, human and social development: “This new policy on water provides a general framework for the African Development Bank Group to expand its role as the continent’s partner promoting the integrated development and management of Africa’s water sector for inclusive and sustainaacble growth in Africa.”

New Water Policy anchored around four principles

Principle 1
Attaining water security at household, national and regional levels should be recognized as a key outcome, fundamental to inclusive growth. The Bank seeks to promote the attainment of water security in all its regional member countries and sub-regions.

Principle 2
Equitable social weaclfare and economic growth. The Bank will continue to advocate for an integrated approach to water development and management by striking a sustainable balance in the social, economic and environmental spheres.

Principle 3
Promoting sustainable and equitable access to water services as an enable for the Sustainable Development Goals. Water is a key enable for many of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The Bank considers water to be essential for life, health, dignity, empowerment, environmental sustainability, peace and prosperity. The new policy aims to vigorously promote water security to advance the SDGs agenda.

Principle 4
Transboundary water resources management and development should be recognised as a significant requirement to achieve seamless regional economic integration. The Bank will actively seek to use the transboundary nature of water to enhance regional integration and promote conflict resolution.

The Bank will establish an internal coordination mechanism for water-related interventions to be overseen by a committee with the appropriate and adequate capacity, resources and skills.  

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Theresa Smith
Theresa Smith is a Content Specialist for ESI Africa.