United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


Commission on Sustainable Development
Intergouvernmental Preparatory Meeting
New York, 1 March 2005
Mr. Chairman,
I have the honour to make this statement on behalf of the African Group . I
wish to thank the Secretary General for the reports prepared for this session .
The African Group associates itself with the statement made by the
Permanent Representative of Jamaica on behalf of the Group of 77 and
Mr. Chairman,
The clusters under discussion during this cycle, human settlements, water
and sanitation are at the core of any development strategy for Africa. As we
prepare for the policy decisions we will take on human settlements, water
and sanitation, it will be important to note that in the programme of work of
the CSD adopted at CSD 11 the sustainable development of Africa was
identified as a crosscutting issue with provision made for its consideration in
all the cycles of work of the Commission . The reports prepared for CSD 13
show that while African countries have been making progress, overall they
still lag behind other regions in the provision of access to water, sanitation
and human settlements.
In addition, the findings of the UN Millennium Project 2005 Report also
show that Africa is lagging behind other regions in meeting its targets . It is
however important to note that African countries have made initiatives
targeted at achieving the goals of access to safe water, provision of human
settlements and addressing sanitation .
Within the framework of the New Partnership for Africa's Development
(NEPAD) we have identified action plans on this three clusters that are vital
in comprehensively implementing the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation
and the Millennium Development Goals on Water, Sanitation and Human
Mr. Chairman,
The target set at the WSSD for sanitation enabled the recognition of
sanitation as an important development priority in its own right . This was an
important step, as sanitation needs to be an integral part of national
development policies .
Sanitation coverage in Africa is still low especially in informal settlements
and the rural areas . As the Secretary-General's report shows, only 31 per
cent of rural inhabitants in developing countries are estimated to have access
to any type of improved sanitation . It is also important to promote demand
for sanitation services through education and hygiene campaigns . Public
education programmes need to be developed with communities and these
should also be culturally sensitive .
The report of the Secretary-General also notes that the rate of recent
progress in extending rural sanitation has been slow in Sub-Saharan Africa
and it calls for a dramatic escalation of efforts with an increased
commitment from the donors to provide assistance . The report also
recognizes that most developing countries cannot achieve the sanitation
targets without the cooperation and support of the international community .
We therefore support the Secretary General's proposal for increased ODA
that can target sanitation directly .
In addition we also wish to reiterate that debt relief will also help African
countries to free resources for the provision of basic services such as
sanitation .
In this regard we also wish to draw attention to the findings of the
Millennium Project Report that external financing is important for
developing countries in the development of sanitation infrastructure .
We support the call of the Millennium Project that external finance should
be provided in the form of grants . While the private sector plays a role we
agree with the Millennium Project that in many developing countries with
high levels of poverty the private sector does not provide a source of new,
financing for water and sanitation .
We also wish to highlight the African Development Bank's rural water
supply and sanitation initiative that aims to expand rural water and sanitation
coverage in sub-Saharan Africa to 80 per cent by 2015 . This programme
however needs to be supported by the international community.
Mr. Chairman,
In urban areas, international assistance will need to focus on wastewater
treatment due to its high cost and its requirement for advanced technical
skills . Capacity building in this area, focusing on both the human and
institutional development is thus of crucial concern to African countries .
Technology transfer for the provision of sanitation should be highlighted .
The African Group also stresses that South-South cooperation should be
enhanced in the area of technology transfer .
The African Group emphasizes the need for the development of an
institutional follow-up on sanitation issues within the United Nations
system. This would enhance the monitoring of progress and also provide an
institutional framework for addressing sanitation as development .
Mr. Chairman,
While the countries of sub-Saharan Africa have managed to increase the
provision of safe drinking water, close to 300 million people are still without
access . By far the largest number of people without access to safe drinking
water reside in rural areas .
Many countries in Africa will miss the target set in Johannesburg for the
development, by 2005, of integrated water resources management and water
efficiency plans . We therefore urge the international community and the
United Nations system to increase their support in this area .
The African Group stresses that the provision of water is central to poverty
eradication. In the rural areas, provision of water can help to boost rural
welfare and incomes, which are also essential for maintaining water supply
and other essential infrastructure .
As the Millennium Project Report has shown, developing countries with low
incomes are unlikely to attract private sector investments in water
infrastructure development. We therefore urge the international community
to increase the levels of official development assistance in the form of grants
to support African countries .
This should be accompanied by debt cancellation, as it will be impossible for
African countries to address poverty eradication in general when they are
saddled with unsustainable levels of debt .
Multilateral and regional development banks should enhance their assistance
with the provision of financing for water . We emphasize the need to support
the efforts of regional financial institutions . In this regard we call the
relevant stakeholders to give their full support to the Water for African
Cities prograimne .
African countries should also be assisted with the development of low-cost
financing mechanisms including micro-credit and other schemes that could
be accessed by communities, especially women, in African countries for the
provision of water services and infrastructure .
We also agree with the Millennium Project that the international community
should not delay investments until the reforms are completed if the 2015
targets are to be met. The learning-by-doing approach is practical and can
yield inunediate results for African countries .
Mr. Chairman,
As noted earlier, institutional and human resource development and capacity
building is critical including through the sharing of best practices .
There is need to strengthen the managerial and technical capacities of local
entities who are directly involved in water provision . In addition, southsouth
cooperation and the sharing of best practices should be supported .
The African Group also believes that the development of water related
infrastructure is also important for flood and drought reduction and response
in shared river basins, ranging from information sharing to coordinated
disaster mitigation planning.
We also urge the international community to support African countries with
the development of major infrastructure for water security and storage . Both
service delivery and infrastructure development are important for African
As the Secretary General observes in his report, women are the main water
haulers. There are therefore more likely to have the strongest interest in
ensuring effective operation and maintenance of a convenient and safe water
source. Their involvement in policy design on water is thus of crucial
importance . In addition, tapping local knowledge can result in technical
designs and management arrangements better suited to local circumstances .
It is thus important for donor coordination in the promotion of local
knowledge in both water management and development of technical designs .
We wish to stress the important role of the UN system in providing
assistance to African countries including technical assistance for the
improvement of capacities .
I thank you for your attention