During the World Water Week, held from 29 August to 1 September 2022 in Stockholm, the African Water Facility (AWF) engaged with partners, donors, and industry stakeholders to explore new perspectives on access to clean water and sanitation in Africa.
At the conference, the AWF participated in several bilateral meetings and seminars on water, sanitation and hygiene, hosted events on the African Urban Sanitation Investment Fund (AUSIF) as well as on AWF’s joint program with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and Nordic Development Fund (NDF).
During a seminar on “water-related investments and economic development” organised by Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), AWF’s Coordinator, Mr. Mtchera Chirwa spoke on the Facility’s support for innovation in the water and sanitation sector in Africa and its role in mobilising downstream financing. “The African Water Facility is the only African project preparation facility. It supports the preparation of key projects in Africa and promotes innovation and capacity building on the continent. It is also unique in developing water governance and scalable catalytic investments," he said.
At the event on the African Urban Sanitation Investment Fund (AUSIF), Mr. Chirwa presented the new AUSIF fund to donors, development financial institutions, investors, fund managers, and the private sector. Ms. Janet Atim, Principal Engineer at the African Development Bank Group also spoke on the application of citywide inclusive sanitation in planning for equitable, safe and sustainable sanitation investments, and Debjyoty Mukherjee, AWF’s Principal Public-Private Finance Expert spoke on the strategy for establishing and operating the Fund, opening the floor for discussions to participants.
The Facility’s live talk show with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and Nordic Development Fund (NDF) was moderated by Chief Program & Coordinator Officer Samuel Blazyk, in a discussion with AWF’s Coordinator Mtchera Chirwa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark’s Tobias von Platen-Hallermund, and Nordic Development Fund’s Aage Jørgensen on AWF’s 4-year joint program to improve access to water supply and sanitation services, boost COVID-19 prevention and recovery efforts, and improve climate resilience in the Sahel and Horn of Africa.
Commenting on the program, Tobias von Platen-Hallermund said, “The idea was to have a quick response to COVID-19 in the Sahel and Horn of Africa, but we decided to develop a dual approach, combining immediate improvements of water infrastructure with longer term project preparation activities.” Furthermore, “Sahel is an underserved region with increasing longer periods of drought leading to issues related to water security. The idea of this program is to invest in water supply and sanitation, integrating climate resilience from the start. Also, a lot of off-grid water supply systems across the continent are diesel-driven and we were looking at renewable energy to replace the use of diesel. All these elements have been carefully integrated into the programme,” Aage Jørgensen added. Speaking on financing and impact, Mtchera Chirwa said, "Five countries have been selected: Mali, Burkina, Niger, Somalia and Ethiopia. We are looking to invest more than 30 million Euros. One million people will benefit from this program."
AWF’s representatives also participated in the African Ministers’ Council on Water’s events on Wastewater Treatment and Monitoring, and Africa Pavilion. At these events, the AWF highlighted the Africa Water Vision 2025 targets, the need for Water sector agencies to engage statistical agencies and influence WASH inventory in demographic health survey and multi-cluster surveys, the necessity to strengthen coordination and harmonisation of donor and Regional Member Countries (RMCs) systems for quicker water interventions, and the urgent need to mobilise resources for investment-ready projects. “It is not a lack of projects but a lack of investment-ready projects for financing that is impacting the pace of investment for the sector in Africa,” AWF Coordinator, Mr. Chirwa said.
Throughout the conference, AWF’s representatives engaged with partners and donors such as the World Bank, USAID – an incoming donor –, Sweden, Austria, Germany, Finland, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), The Sanitation and Hygiene Fund, Norfund, Convergence Blended Finance, Water Research Commission (WRC), The Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN), Safisana, and private firms.