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.
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.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs