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Tackling Africa’s poor wastewater management and sanitation

sanitation_250x250A new project has been launched to improve wastewater management and sanitation provision in Africa.

The project, led by the African Development Bank, UN Environment and GRID-Arendal, will improve knowledge on wastewater management and sanitation provision. By assessing management of wastewater, including its impact on human health and the environment, the three-year project will focus on wastewater, sanitation services and safe drinking water.

Effect of poor wastewater management and sanitation facilities

The lack of wastewater management and sanitation facilities are challenges for many countries in Africa. As a result, some countries on the continent are witnessing the re-emergence of fatal and yet preventable water-borne diseases such as typhoid and cholera.

It is expected that the project will result in a shift towards good practices while also pointing to the vast opportunities for private and public sector investment in wastewater management and sanitation provision in Africa.

The Abidjan-headquartered African Development Bank is supporting infrastructure development in Africa through its Partnership for Infrastructure Development in Africa. Some of the initiatives that the bank is supporting include the Africa Water Facility and the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative, which are having some positive impacts on human health and the ‘environment.

“When the right policies are effectively implemented, they can catalyse private and public sector participation in wastewater management and sanitation provision in Africa, with positive transformation of peoples’ lives,” Osward Mulenga Chanda, manager of the African Development Bank’s water and sanitation department said. “Sharing proven best practices on wastewater management and sanitation provision will inform policy dialogue and engender change.

“The three project partners bring together complementary in-depth expertise on water resources management,” he added.

Aims of the project

The project will provide data and knowledge on some of the indicators for tracking progress towards the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Through a range of products that include news and policy briefs, maps, graphics, and an atlas, the project will engage experts across Africa as well as provide a platform for regular discussion and sharing of ideas.

“The need for sustainable wastewater management practices in Africa is steadily rising, and this requires supportive policies, appropriate technologies and innovative financing mechanisms,” Birguy Lamizana, the programme officer at the UN Environment said.

“Improving wastewater management and sanitation provision will have positive benefits on both human health and the environment across the continent”, Lamizana added. “Therefore it is gratifying to see the joining of forces by UN Environment, the African Development Bank and GRID-Arendal in working towards a better understanding of the state of wastewater and sanitation in Africa.

Lamizana explained that up-to-date information would enable the team to make better decisions. “The comprehensive package of knowledge products proposed under the project will definitely provide positive insights and shifts in mindsets on matters of sanitation and wastewater management,” he said.

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