Water: Standpoint of the African Civil Society


The world is facing a real water crisis with more than one billion people who have no access to clear water and about 2.5 billion lacking adequate sanitation due to utter poverty, forced migrations, pollution, waste etc.

In Africa, with an ever-growing population, the situation is particularly disturbing in the rural areas where only 40% have access to clear water and 45% to sanitation. In the cities there is a large gap because the poor pay up to 10 times dearer the water they consume. As a result, 6000 children die every day for lack of hygiene.

However, one notices a slow implementation of the Millenium Development Goals (MDG) and Application Plan of the Sustainable Development Commission related to water and sanitation, the non compliance with laws, standards, codes and reforms, the disrespect for the different international commitments such as the International Convention on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights ( ECOSOC ).

In order to overcome this dilemma, the African civil society has opted for the different parties’ capacity building through establishing processes for involving non governmental and community-based organisations in sectorial projects, regulation and reforms in the sector that are initiated by public and local authorities.

An opening to public desks and more flexible and simplified procedures of access to the African, European and ACP initiative fund should enable the civil society to contribute to measures aimed at attaining target 7 of the Millenium Development Goals through implementing local and national solutions.

For an improved access to water and sanitation by 2015, such solutions should be used as the basis of future policies to supplement Sectorial Programmes often funded by the World Bank and other development partners in the form of credit portfolios, and which are rather inadequate in so far as they involve to a lesser degree the different parties concerned at national level, and also increase the countries’ debt.

In view of the need to respect the recognized human rights, the States should increase public expenditure for the sector. To this effect, Poverty Reduction Strategy Policies should prioritze the funding of water and sanitation services.

On the other hand, as usual with debt write-off, a substancial part of the debt service should be turned into equipment and services for better access of the poorest populations to clear water, hygiene and sanitation, and to alleviate the burden of women and children who are most affected by poverty.

Even though most countries are carrying out reforms in the field of water, few of them have established a regulation system that can control the large profits of the big companies operating in the water market so that added values from the sector can be paid for its improvement.

The same holds for the new laws and water codes that are being developed and where the main concern of the civil society is the need to take into acount the river water pollution by big industries established in urban areas as well as through the important consumption, and pollution due to agricultural industries.

The civil society is anxious to see the Council of African Ministers in Charge of Water (AMCOW) take account of the need for community involvement in an integrated management of water resources and basins, to ensure sustainable environment and economic development and prevent social conflicts that might arise in the regions as a result of inadequate water management.

Similarly, the civil society is concerned with water governance for the purpose of greater transparency and equity, and power transfer to local communities, to ensure the production, efficacious and efficient management of low-cost houses and prevent forced displacements of human settlements that have a negative impact on access to water, hygiene and sanitation.