United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

African Development Bank

The Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative
An initiative of the African Development Bank
for building a partnership for poverty reduction in Africa
Chanel Boucher
Vice President
Policy, Planning and Research
United2 N2a Atipornils 2, 0N0e5w York
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Three weeks ago, African ministers of finance and African ministers of water, along with
representatives of donor countries and multilateral and bilateral institutions met in Paris, at
the invitation of the French government to agree on a common framework for attaining the
millennium development goals in water, especially for rural Africa, where the majority of the
populations live.
In recognition that the scope of the needs, in water supply and sanitation, is far greater than
what individual countries and individual donors can do, the African Development Bank
(AfDB), in close consultation with its regional member countries developed the rural water
supply and sanitation initiative (RWSSI). The Declaration on RWSSI, adopted at the Paris
conference, hinges on the willingness of all partners to work within a single framework. For
the countries, it implies putting water and sanitation in the PRSPs and the national
development plans as well as in national budgets. For the donor community, it requires
putting into practice alignment of priorities, harmonization of practices and managing for
results. RWSSI relies on the collective accountability of African ministers of water through
AMCOW and operates within the global thrust of the NEPAD.
RWSSI is an ambitious initiative, which calls for a mobilization of 14.2 billion US $ over a
period of 11 years (2005 - 2015) in rural Africa for water and sanitation. This may perceived
to be a huge investment, but as rightly pointed out in Paris, the cost of not tackling the issue
of water supply and sanitation in terms of associated diseases is estimated at 20 billion US $ a
year. The international community would, therefore, need to find more than 200 billion US $
for health care only for the same period, not to mention the productivity loss for women and
the dropout of girls from school. The simple mathematics, common sense and economics
dictate that action be taken.
As we all know, Africa is a continent of paradoxes. It has abundant water resources (about
5400 billion cubic meters per years), but is ranked last in access to water and sanitation.
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to quickly run the numbers: ?

Only 3% of available water resources in Africa is utilized. ?
62% of population is rural, yet access to water supply and sanitation services in rural
areas is low: ?
About 53% of rural population has no access to safe drinking water ?
About 57% has no access to basic sanitation ?
Currently 14 African countries suffer from chronic water shortage. ?
If the trends continue, this number will reach 25 in 2025.
The implementation of RWSSI requires an equal share of the burden by all stakeholders:
1. The AfDB
Scale up its capacity to deliver RWSSI.
Finance and implement RWSSI, including the establishment of "fast track"
- Play a coordination role and participate in government led coordination
mechanisms at the country level to periodically review country programs.
2. African countries
Include water and sanitation in PRSPs, national development plans and
Build capacity, including at community and local government levels, to
implement large scale programs and to ensure good governance.
Ensure the effective participation of populations.
3. Donors
Work together under the same framework and harmonize their approaches
with a view to reducing transaction costs and reporting requirements for the
regional member countries. This is a bit like "herding cats". If history is our
guide, it would not appear to be a "natural behavior";
"Walk the talk" on ownership, alignment, harmonization, management for
results and mutual accountability.
RWSSI advocates the utilization of wide range appropriate technologies. The choice of
technologies depends on location, communities' affordability and willingness to pay. Option
for RWSSI include (but not limited to):

For Water
- Improved shallow wells & boreholes fitted with hand pumps
- Spring development & rain water harvesting
? - Simple pipe systems with standpipes & house connections
For sanitation
Improved pit latrines for households
Multiple-pit ventilated improved pit latrines
Sand-plate latrine
Small-bore sewers & simplified sewerage
The sustainability of the technologies relies on the development of maintenance culture.
The implementation of RWSSI is also based on:
Demand driven programmatic approach ?
Multi-pronged mechanisms and lending instruments ?
User participation in the design and implementation ?
Maintenance of infrastructure by local communities
Recognizing that not all African countries have the capacities to immediately implement
RWSSI, the activities are sequenced for implementation, over a period of 11 years. As well,
countries are grouped according to their readiness for investment intervention taking into
account the policy environment, the institutional capacity, access to water supply and
sanitation and ongoing programs.
To enhance accountability during implementation, it is important to ensure that proper
monitoring mechanisms are in place and baseline indicators are developed. RWSSI will
endeavor to produce annual reports and to feed data into existing reporting mechanisms, in
particular the UN-ECA African Water Development Report and the World Water Assessment
Program. RWSSI will also contribute to the Joint Monitoring Program led by UNICEF.
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Let me reassure you all that the AWF and RWSSI complement each other fully. As the
initiative led by the African Ministers of Water, the AWF hosted by the Bank, focuses on
improving the enabling environment for RWSSI to fund projects and programs. The AWF
provides resources for pilot, innovative approaches and technologies that RWSSI can fund at
a larger scale. As such, the AWF support front end facilitation activities and ensures that
poverty, gender and environmental concerns are fully reflected in WSS programs.
Let me conclude by stressing the continued commitment of the AfDB to contribute to poverty
reduction in its regional member countries. This commitment justifies the decision of its ADF
Board of Governors to accept that up to 30% of the financial requirement of RWSSI be
supported by the ADF. By scaling up its rural water programs to 460 millions US$ per year,
the AfDB would become the single biggest donor on rural water supply and sanitation in
Africa. The World Bank will be scaling up its programmes and France and The Netherlands
have already pledged resources for RWSSI. While, we are looking forward for other
countries to provide resources, we are actively starting to implement the RWSSI.
By equally supporting the burden of financing RWSSI, we will equally be rewarded by the
achievements of RWSSI and the progress made in poverty reduction in Africa.
Thank you