Africa's water sector grapples with funding shortage

Wednesday December 04 2019

A quarter of the 1.2 billion population in sub-Saharan Africa have no close source of clean drinking water. PHOTO | PHILL MAGAKOE | AFP


Water utilities and users across Africa are being forced into the innovation lane at a time when water quality infrastructure are deteriorating.

Five years ago, a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) revealed that the annual funding gap for infrastructure in sub Saharan Africa sits close to $50 billion, with water alone requiring $11 billion.

In addition, in 2018, the African Development Bank put the continent’s infrastructure funding gap at between $130 and $170 billion per year.

According to the OECD, a quarter of the 1.2 billion population in sub Saharan Africa have no close source of clean drinking water while another 700 million are without decent sanitation, yet investment in water infrastructure financing is often falling, limiting access to safe water and ease of doing business.

International Consortium for Africa indicates that without donor and other external financing, funding of water infrastructure by African states, at national and subnational levels fell slightly from $6.1 billion in 2016 to $5.9 billion in 2017.

During the 83rd Africa Water Association (AfWA) scientific and technical council meeting held in Kampala from early in November, experts said in the face of industrial waste polluting water bodies, while climate change is also causing water scarcity, utilities are confronted with major hurdles to supply safe and clean water.


AfWA delegates recommended that utilities and users embrace the circular economy which emphasises the recycling, upcycling of things, in this case the reuse of water.

They also recommended the adoption of a simple scientific method that turns contaminated water into safe drinking water.

“We are living in an environment where resources are diminishing,” said Eng Johnson Amayo, acting Managing director of Uganda’s National Water and Sewerage Corporation.