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African ministers for water, sanitation begin talks today in Namibia

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
10 October 2022   |   2:44 am
In a fresh move to galvanise action to ensure equitable availability of water for all purposes and sanitation for all, African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) will today, kick-start

[FILES] Water flow

In a fresh move to galvanise action to ensure equitable availability of water for all purposes and sanitation for all, African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) will today, kick-start its 13th Ordinary Session of the Executive Committee (EXCO) in Windhoek, Namibia.

The meeting would bring together 25 countries, including Nigeria and 15 ministers to discuss Africa’s water, food and environment security ahead of the post-2025 Africa water vision.

The EXCO session is coming at a time when countries are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic and facing devastating water-related disasters that have ravaged every corner of the continent.

The ministers will deliberate on ways to tackle the impacts of the cyclones, droughts, floods, sharp rises in food and commodity prices, as well as other climate change challenges experienced this year.

In line with the aspirations of Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the ministers will also make decisions to strengthen the continent’s ability to reduce the disease burden and mortality rates associated with failures in sanitation, as well as hygiene services provision.

They will also explore strategies on how to invest in water to create greater resilience to climate, health and food system shocks; and to improve the management of water-related disaster risks.

In accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the Governing Council of AMCOW, the EXCO comprise 15 members, including the AMCOW president. On a rotational basis, each sub-region nominates into the Council, three representatives – one of whom shall be designated as Vice President – in the EXCO session preceding the General Assembly.

Essentially, the four-day talks would be attended by the ministers responsible for water and sanitation affairs in member states of Nigeria, Namibia, Cameroon, the Republic of Central Africa, Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Egypt, Lybia, Mauritania, Malawi, Mozambique, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal.

In attendance will be 25 members of AMCOW’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) from the same member states with the addition of Gabon, Chad, Tanzania, South Sudan, Kenya, Tunisia, Algeria, Botswana, South Africa, Mali and Sierra Leone and AMCOW development and donor partners.

Specifically, the meeting comprises two components: the TAC and ministerial sessions. During the sessions, delegates will be receiving and considering reports such as status on implementation of previous Governing Council and EXCO decisions like proposed amendments to Staff and Financial Rules and Regulations.

They will also revise AMCOW governance framework document, draft framework for AMCOW strategic programme on groundwater for water security and resilience in Africa; Youth, Gender and Social Inclusion Strategy, as well as AMCOW’s three-year (2022-2024) work programme and budget.

AMCOW’s Executive Secretary, Dr. Rashid Mbaziira, said: “The EXCO will take decisions on behalf of the council in the interim of the General Assembly.”

He also explained, “The EXCO will deliberate on the advice and recommendations of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and forward to the Council of Ministers its suggestions for consideration and further guidance.” These decisions are to provide further impetus to assuring water security and safely managed sanitation for the continent.

The host, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform and AMCOW President, Carl Hermann Gustav Schlettwein, said during the sessions; “The EXCO is convened to provide strategic directions and guidance for the achievement of Africa’s Water and Sanitation Agenda.”

AMCOW provides political leadership, policy direction and advocacy in the provision, use and management of water resources for sustainable social and economic development and maintenance of African ecosystems.

Since its establishment in 2002 and as a specialised technical committee for Water and Sanitation in the African Union, AMCOW works with the African Union Commission, the United Nations system and other inter-governmental / regional organisations, development and co-operation partners, financial institutions, as well as civil society groups to spearhead efforts at addressing Africa’s water and sanitation policy challenges.