AFDB Gathers Experts to Address Water Security Challenges

December 23, 2020
Water Security Challenges

By Ahmed Rahma

Last week, some experts in the water sector gathered to discuss the pressures affecting water security in the Greater Horn of Africa, which comprises Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and South Sudan.

The event, which was held virtually, was organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional organisation of Horn of Africa countries.

At the webinar precisely held on Tuesday, December 15 and hosted by the Water Development and Sanitation Department of AfDB and the African Water Facility, participants highlighted the key issues identified in the sector and ways the financial institution can support regional member countries to better respond to growing water difficulties.

It was discovered that as a result of demographic change, urbanisation, environmental degradation, stoking demand for food, energy and land, the pressures on water supplies will continue to rise in the coming years.

According to the bank’s Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Ms Wambui Gichuri, despite the water being the source of life, livelihoods and prosperity, it can cause destruction.

“Water can also be a cause of devastation and poverty through droughts, floods, landslides, as well as through erosion, desertification, pollution and disease. Achieving water security, through harnessing the productive potential of water and limiting its destructive impact, is a priority for the Bank as articulated through its New Policy on Water and other policies and strategies,” Ms Gichuri said.

Also speaking at the webinar, Mr Fred Mwango, a regional water expert at the IGAD Secretariat, told workshop attendees that perennial droughts in the Greater Horn of Africa have created “climate refugees”, resulting in conflicts between communities within and across borders.

“In 2019 alone, the number of severely food insecure people was estimated at 12 million, as a result of the drought,” he said.

He said the answers to water security challenges lay in water governance as much as resource endowments, infrastructure investments or technology.

“The bank and other partners can be critical in offering analytical and advisory services as well as investment finance to enhance this agenda in the Horn of Africa,” Mr Mwango said.

A senior water resources expert at the AfDB, Mr Henry Ntale Kayondo, said the costs of not addressing water challenges – such as contamination of groundwater, drinking water and erosion and water stress­ – were high, and some pollution may be irreversible.

He recommended greater investment in sector regulation and protections against run-off, pollution and coastal erosion.

Rahma Ahmed

Ahmed Rahma is a journalist with great interest in arts and craft. She is also a foodie who loves new ideas. She loves to travel and would love to visit other African countries someday. She is a sucker for historical movies and afrobeat.

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