Addis Ababa, Dec. 23, 2003 -- The Pan-African Implementation and Partnership Conference on Water (PANAFCON) ended recently in Addis Ababa with an action plan to meet Africa's World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) targets, the African Water Vision and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on water.
More than 1000 participants attended the Conference from across the world. In a continent where more than 300 millions people lack reasonable access to safe water and 14 countries are currently subject to water stress or scarcity, water management has become a development issue.
PANAFCON made proposals for concrete actions in nine key areas: meeting basic needs: water, sanitation and human settlements; water for food security; protecting ecosystems and livelihoods; managing risks: water and climate; financing water infrastructure; integrated water resources management / shared water resources; valuing and allocating water; ensuring water wisdom; and governing water wisely.
In pursuit of the MDGs, about 45 Ministers of Water and Environment from Africa, who attended the Conference, resolved to give special attention to countries likely to miss their targets for safe drinking water and sanitation. They also agreed to establish, next year, a National Task Force on Water and Sanitation which will prepare national plans with service delivery targets for achieving water and sanitation goals by 2015.
During the Conference, the Ministers launched a number of initiatives, including the African Water Facility with a targeted funding of over $600 million for medium-term projects on water and sanitation; the African Water Journal which will provide an outlet to disseminate knowledge; the Water and Sanitation for African Cities (Phase II), the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative and the G8 Action Plan on Water for Africa.
They also signed a joint declaration with the European Commission on the implementation of the African-European Union Strategic Partnership on Water Affairs and Sanitation.
PANAFCON was organized jointly by the African Ministers' Council on Water (AMCOW), the UN-Water/Africa made up of UN agencies, the African Development Bank and key development partners and with its secretariat located at ECA.
The Ministers welcomed the active participation of civil society organization in PANAFCON and agreed to incorporate civil society and gender issues in policy formulation on water.
In an opening remark on Monday, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa and co-chair of the Conference, K.Y. Amoako, reminded participants that access to water, which is a basic human need, still eludes a large proportion of Africans. He said "Poor management of this precious gift of nature continues to hinder our progress and is a major constraining factor in food production, health and industrial development". Mr Amoako said their was a large funding gap in the water sector, stating: "The average annual investment between 1990 and 2000 for water supply and sanitation in Africa was 4.6 billion US dollars, or 40% of the requirement for meeting basic needs".
For more information on the PANAFCON, contact: Yinka Adeyemi, Communication Officer, email: [email protected], or visit http://www.uneca.org/panafcon