African Development Bank hosts meeting on rural WASH in Tunis

                                                                                                               Babatope Babalobi

The African Development Bank (AFDB) will launch a new initiative to facilitate improved coordination and sector learning among partners and Stakeholders towards the achievement of the Bank’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI), next week in Tunisia.

Known as  the ‘Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative’s  Regional Coordination Committee (RCC)’,  the event will hold on March 26 and 27 at the Tunis head quarters of the Bank and will be attended by 150 – 200 experts representing all countries in Africa, as well as RWSSI stakeholders.

The Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI), a joint programme coordinated by the AfDB but financed by many donors, other partners and Regional Member Countries (RMCs), was first launched in 2003 by the African Development Bank with an overall goal of achieving universal access to water supply and sanitation services for the rural populations by 2025 with an intermediate target of 80% coverage by 2015 in a sustainable way.

The Initiative seeks to help mobilize as well as facilitate the flow of available and potential resources to accelerate investment in Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) in Africa, with goal to reach 80 percent coverage by the year 2015. The Initiative supports the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the reduction of poverty.

RWSSI was adopted in 2005 by AfDB’s main international development partners and African governments as a common framework, at the first International Conference on the RWSSI held in Paris April 1st, 2005.

The focus areas of the RWSSI include water supply, sanitation, hygiene, sector policy and strategy, capacity building and funds mobilization for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation sub-sector; and the Initiative targets about 280 million people living in rural Africa with access to new and rehabilitated water supply and sanitation (WSS) facilities.

According to an Internal Assessment of the AfDB’s water supply and sanitation initiative, “28 RWSS programs in 22 African countries have been approved, of which 16 have started to deliver water and provide sanitation services. The additional people served with access to water supply through the RWSS program rose from 1.15 million people at the end of 2007, to 32.63 million people at the end of 2010, while for sanitation it increased from 0.58 million to 20.09 million people, over the same period”

The overall objective of next week’s meeting in Tunis is to launch the platform that will facilitate improved coordination and sector learning among Partners and Stakeholders towards the achievement of RWSSI’s goals and targets.

The specific objectives of the meeting are: appraising stakeholders on RWSSI progress, achievements, challenges and plans leading to 2015. This will also include a discussion on some of the key issues affecting sector progress (sector monitoring and performance reporting; sub-sector financing; sustainability; sector coordination) and how Africa should address them; sharing country and field experiences in co-ordination to inform the way forward for RWSSI;  obtaining partner and stakeholder inputs towards identifying opportunities and addressing co-ordination challenges to achieve Africa’s rural water supply and sanitation targets; reviewing the draft terms of reference and membership of the RCC, and proposing undertakings for the first year (including modalities for their achievement); and, launching the RCC.

The meeting is expected to result in an enhanced understanding of the role, impact and contribution of RWSSI towards the achievement of Africa’s water and sanitation targets in rural and small town communities; greater awareness of key issues affecting sector progress and that are central to the mandate of the RCC.

These include sector performance monitoring and reporting, resource mobilization and sustainability of rural water supply and sanitation services, national level coordination, etc. climate change and adaptation, and how the RWSSI and the region is/should be addressing them;  and a better understanding of the need for co-ordination and a commitment to enhance this at regional and national levels.

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