South Africa hosts the 2nd Africa Water Week from 9 to 13 November 2009
On 9 November 2009 the honourable Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Buyelwa Patience Sonjica, welcomed the African and local delegates attending the African Ministers Conference on Water (AMCOW) at Gallagher Estate in Midrand. The 2nd Africa Water Week (AWW-2) is scheduled to run from 9 to 13 November 2009 comprising different parallel sessions and side events on key water sector themes. African countries are represented by their Ministers in trying to get interventions that will assist in addressing the water and sanitation challenges. This year’s theme ‘Carrying forward the commitments of Shem El Sheik on Water and Sanitation: Sprint to the finish’ focuses on actions needed to fulfil the commitments made in the previous conference held in Tunisia, 26 to 28 March 2008. The conference will end with Minister Buyelwa Sonjica officially taking over as the Chairperson of AMCOW for the next two years.
Addressing the plenary during the opening session, Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said ‘South Africa will be hosting the FIFA World Cup next year under the theme ‘Ke Nako, Time has Come’ – the theme captures the spirit of partnership within the continent in hosting of this prestigious tournament and hope it will also permeate the corridors of the 2nd Africa Water Week as we strive to find solutions towards the sustainability of the earth’s most precious resource‘.
The AWW-2 has brought experts in different water fields together to seek solutions on how to collectively accelerate Africa’s prospects for achievement, by the year 2015, of Wold Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) targets and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on water and sanitation.
AMCOW president, Minister Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua, stated that: ‘Over 340 million Africans still do not have access to potable water and over 500 lack sanitation facilities. With population growth we may not meet the MDG targets on water and sanitation as well as the Africa Water Vision’.
So far AMCOW has not seen the reduction in the number of people without access to water; instead there is an exponential growth of water supply and sanitation challenges in Africa.
According to Minister Itoua, African heads of state and government made a commitment in July 2009, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to meet the MDG targets. The AWW-2 will look at translating commitments into action on the ground.
The AWW-2 conference aims to achieve the following:
· Securing renewed political commitments of African governments to accelerate action to meet the agreed targets
· Securing the renewed and firm commitments among development cooperation partners and AMCOW’s implementing partners
· Providing a clear assessment of progress made and needed by national governments, regional economic communities, basin organisations, civil society and private sector partners
· Identifying and strengthening strategies and approaches for accelerating action, including a greater focus on sanitation, urban water supply, water augmentation technologies, groundwater management, transboundary water agreements, and water governance
· Mobilizing the media to actively support the efforts by all actors to meet the water and sanitation targets in Africa
The programme of the AWW-2 has parallel sessions running on: Climate Change, Managing African Transboundary waters, Financing Water and Sanitation Infrastructure and Closing the Sanitation Gap. Different side events are being held throughout the conference.
Knowledge Dissemination Officer