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SECTOR-BY-SECTOR OPPORTUNITIES 97


Africa faces several challenges in dealing with water provision and managing its environment, but the continent is now putting in place the appropriate infrastructure, writes Jesse Morgan


P


roviding safe, clean drinking water across the continent and managing Africa’s environment are two tasks that go hand in hand. Both require the handling of a scarce, precious, yet essential, resource in such a way as to ensure they


sustainably benefit the continent’s population. The African Union Commission (AUC) has backed several


initiatives, in particular in furtherance of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and three specifically that seek to: “integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources; reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss; halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation”. These goals build on, and supplement, those of the


Africa-European Union Declaration on Climate Change (AU-EUDCC) of November 2008, which in turn followed the Addis Ababa Declaration on Climate Change and Development of the previous year. The two groups underlined their joint commitment to the objectives and principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol, the principal aims of which are to halve 1990 emissions levels by 2050 and limit temperature rises to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. But the AU-EUDCC also focused on initiatives of


particular relevance to the continent, which complement the work of regional mechanisms such as the Global Climate Change Alliance and the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund. The former plays an important role in the coordination of policy, while the latter focuses on the provision of clean and secure energy supplies to those situated in poorer regions. Water provision faces several threats. Environmentally,


there is climate change, increasing scarcity of water as a result of both shrinking water bodies and desertification, and the problem of unpredictable rain patterns. Human threats include poor governance of resources, pollution, environmental degradation, deforestation and insufficient investment in improving infrastructure and in developing the water supply and sanitation.


One of the first comprehensive, pan-African schemes to


tackle these issues is the Africa Water Vision 2025, which in 2000 set out a 25-year scheme to coordinate national and regional efforts. This program is complemented by the work of African Water Week, an initiative by the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) to ensure access to clean water and sanitation, which met for the third time in November 2010. The first pillar of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture


Development Program (CAADP), in conjunction with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), aims to coordinate initiatives across the continent that are mobilizing national and regional resources to improve irrigation levels, with the aim of increasing the quantity of irrigated land from 12.6 million ha in 2002 to more than 20 million ha by 2015. Water also has a political dimension, so it comes as no


surprise that the G8/Africa Summit in May 2011 declared it deemed “of the utmost importance that the use of large river water resources should have in due consideration the interests of both upstream and downstream countries in order to reach agreements aiming at common development”.


Threat to the region


Climate change and a deteriorating environment are key challenges to sustainability, biodiversity, food security and stability across Africa. Pollution, deteriorating soil quality, desertification and poor air quality are threatening the lives and futures of all of the continent’s people. The region is one of the most exposed to the perils of climate change. NEPAD’s Climate Change and Natural Resource


Management program plays a pivotal role in coordinating and an advocacy role in promoting regional and national programs aimed at counteracting environmental threats. NEPAD recognizes that addressing environmental issues is a precondition for sustainable growth and development. One of the key concerns when tackling these issues is the


development of appropriate systems for gathering and monitoring data, to ensure that decision-makers have the information they need to make the most efficient use of their resources, and to provide feedback as to what and where progress is, or is not, being made. The AUC, in conjunction with the EU, has founded a


program with the intentions both to improve monitoring of the environment and to promote sustainable development. African Monitoring of the Environment for Sustainable Development (AMESD) aims to improve information management systems in order to better manage environmental change, and thus aid the alleviation of poverty.


INVEST IN AFRICA 2011


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