7th Africa Water Week: Canisius Kanangire and Richard Rapier on Strategic Planning for Africa’s Water and Sanitation Sectors

Dr. Canisius Kanangire, Executive Secretary of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), speaks at Stockholm World Water Week. Photo credit: AMCOW

“The changes on the African continent are very much alarming—when we talk of sanitation and look at the growth of the populations in Africa, and also the urbanization phenomenon, with the growth of slums,” said Dr. Canisius Kanangire, Executive Secretary of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), acknowledging the challenges facing the region in a recent interview with USAID’s Global Waters Radio.

From October 29–November 2, 2018, AMCOW—a specialized technical committee of the African Union providing policy guidance and technical advice for the sustainable development of water resources and sanitation in Africa—will be convening the 7th Africa Water Week in Libreville, Gabon, under the theme “Toward Achieving Water Security and Safely Managed Sanitation for Africa.” Dr. Kanangire has led AMCOW since 2016.

Joining Dr. Kanangire on the podcast was Richard Rapier, Chief of Party for the USAID-supported Water for Africa through Leadership and Institutional Support (WALIS) program. Much of their conversation revolved around the recent collaboration between WALIS and AMCOW in creating AMCOW’s new 2018–2030 Strategy, a plan outlining how AMCOW will support its 55 member countries to improve their financial and technical capacity to address pressing water and sanitation challenges and speed progress toward Sustainable Development Goal 6. In support of the strategy, WALIS provides technical guidance to AMCOW to strengthen the committee’s governance structure and increase its financial sustainability.  

During the podcast, Dr. Kanangire and Richard Rapier discuss the collaborative process between WALIS and AMCOW and elaborate on the most pressing water and sanitation challenges facing Africa today. They also detail some of the ways the new strategy provides a blueprint for AMCOW to assist Africa’s water ministers to tackle water security and public health challenges in the face of climate change, rapid urbanization, and population growth. To that end, Dr. Kanangire recommends African countries invest heavily in water storage to reduce drought and flood vulnerability; conserve ecosystems to better protect the watersheds that are the foundation of local and regional water security; push to protect drinking water sources and reduce the prevalence of open defecation; and proactively seek cooperative water management solutions to reduce the risk of future conflict over Africa’s 60 transboundary water sources.

The 2018–2030 Strategy addresses each of these issues, although there is still more work to be done, says Rapier. “We know that it’s just a start, that AMCOW’s growth over the next 10 years, it’s going to take all of that time. Because if you’re going to do something really well, you’re going to go a little bit slower, but you’re going to do it together. And I think that is very valuable.”

Listen to the full podcast:

By Elise Zaidi, USAID/E3 Bureau Water Office’s Water CKM Project

To view or download this interview transcript:

To view or download the extended version of this interview transcript:


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