Financing Africa’s Future with Access to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

A young girl pumps water near her village in Malawi. Photo by Simon Rawles.

In my home country of Ghana, while 81% of people have access to at least basic drinking water services, only 18% have access to at least basic sanitation services (USAID). Across the African continent, more than 400 million people do not have access to basic water services and 700 million people still do not have access to safe sanitation services (WHO/UNICEF). Even though water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services are universally recognized as essential for public health, wellbeing, and economic prosperity, WASH is still under-prioritized at the national and international levels.

As the Senior Policy Advisor at the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), I work to encourage policy development and reforms and political mobilization of African governments to prioritize WASH services for their people.

At AMCOW, we are working to improve the prioritization of water and sanitation. As part of our mandate, we have the responsibility to effectively and efficiently coordinate actions of key water and sanitation players, facilitate the strengthening of regional cooperation and transboundary water resources management and development and build the capacity of relevant institutions and agencies in Africa. 

Following the consistent calls in the Africa Water Vision 2025 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we have a long way to go to achieve universal access to water and sanitation. It is estimated that annual global investments must reach $114 billion dollars to meet these lofty but necessary goals. 

AMCOW believes that with the right financing and catalytic smart investment, universal access to water, sanitation, and hygiene is possible within the ten years remaining to meet the SDGs. African Governments and donors need to significantly and urgently increase financial resources allocated to the WASH sector, develop and implement game-changing policies and strategies, and prioritize actions in the sector that target the most marginalized and vulnerable people. 

To that end, AMCOW partnered with the USAID Water for Africa through Leadership and Institutional Support (WALIS) program to develop the WASH Finance Advocacy Brief, which will help WASH sector ministers raise awareness amongst their peers on the urgent need to prioritize financing for the sector. Targeting Africa’s finance ministers, this Brief promotes direction and renewed political support to the WASH sector, emphasizing the importance of WASH in improving country resiliency toward COVID-19 and other infectious disease outbreaks, as well as strengthening the economic systems in our continent. Africa’s Finance Ministers are uniquely positioned to support WASH sector ministers in the development and implementation of policies and strategies to close the sector’s massive funding gap. 

Therefore, I encourage you to read and disseminate this Brief widely and use it in your own WASH advocacy work. As is often said, water is life, and sanitation and hygiene are dignity.  We must all work together to build the momentum necessary to fill this funding gap and secure these life-sustaining services for all people. 

Dr. Tanko Yussif Azzika is the Senior Policy Advisor of the African Ministers' Council on Water (AMCOW). He tweets at @azzika2002. For more information on AMCOW and its work, visit the organization’s website.


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