News

Africa Major Player at World Water Forum

6th World Water Forum
6th World Water Forum
Joe DeCapua

African ministers say water is vital to improving health and economic development on the continent. Africa placed high on the agenda at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille, France, March 12-17.

Bai-Mas Taal is the executive secretary of the African Ministers’ Council on Water, also known as AMCOW. He said African nations are committed to clean water and sanitation.

“We are putting up the economic case – investment in water – how it helps in the development of a nation. That water is the driving force for economic development,” he said.

Taal said there was a time when African governments were hesitant about investing in water and sanitation. They didn’t see what the return on investment would be. That’s changed.

“The heads of state have committed themselves to building the infrastructure of Africa - to move the economic growth rate of Africa from four to six percent to 12 percent by 2040. To do that, they have developed an infrastructure program for the development of Africa,” he said.

Good investment

He said investing one dollar in water can bring a return of $4 to $12 in benefits. One of the benefits is better health.

“We know that in Africa over 60 percent of hospital beds are occupied with patients with water borne diseases. So if you invest in water and give them clean water, you are going to reduce your medical bill. Because they are not having clean water. They are drinking contaminated water from boreholes, from wells that are not treated. So, give them clean water then you will reduce the medical bill,” he said.

Clean water and sanitation also mean more children in school.

“The children and girl child, they are not going to school because they are going every day kilometers and kilometers to fetch water. But of you provide water at the village level they don’t have to go those kilometers to fetch water. Then they can go to school and become more productive in the future,” he said.

Taal added irrigation can play a major role in ensuring food security and development.

“If you depend on raid-fed agriculture in West Africa or Sahelian countries, it rains between two and three months and you don’t even know when the rains are coming. Sometimes they start, you plant, and the rains do not come for 3 weeks. All your seeds die. So, telling them that you need to lift the water from the ground or from the rivers by building infrastructure to water those plants. Once you do that you’ll have revenue from those agricultural products,” he said

As for non-agriculture business, Taal said Coca Cola, Nestle and Africa’s beer breweries have been working to use water more efficiently. He says in South African bars, for example, the price of a drink depends on the cost of water used to make ice.

African heads of state, ministers and other officials have endorsed a position paper for the water forum.

“Commit ourselves to mobilize the required resources and commit all necessary efforts to achieve the MDGs, goal targets, for water supply and sanitation in Africa,” said Taal.

He said Africa’s message was heard loud and clear at the World Water Forum.

“Africa came here and Africa has made its voice heard. And Africa has come out with solutions that we take back to the continent and implement so that water will be available to our people,” he said.

Currently, Taal says, 340 million Africans do not have access to clean water and 500 million do not have access to decent sanitation. He says African nations are working hard to change that.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs