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Freshwater for all – working towards realistic targets

Water issues were a priority in 2003 in Africa, which experiences large spatial variations in rainfall and in 1990 saw at least 13 countries suffer water stress or scarcity (UNEP 2002). Governments in the region, and their partners, participated in various water-related events, including the Pan-African Implementation and Partnership Conference on Water, convened in December in Addis Ababa. One of its objectives was to explore ways of reaching the internationally agreed water and sanitation targets. A pre-conference report (UNEP 2003a) noted that for the region to meet the water targets:

an additional 405 million people must have improved access to safe drinking water by 2015, from January 2004, an average of more than 36 million each year, 690 000 each week; and
an additional 247 million people must get improved sanitation by 2015, with an average of more than 22 million every year, 425 000 people every week, from January 2004

These targets are demanding. Africa lacks adequate human and financial resources, and the necessary investment has not been made. In addition, few African countries have adequate technical capacity for necessary infrastructure, engineering and installation. It has been suggested that the targets might be realistically approached in an incremental way (UNEP 2003a). Figure 1 shows how this could be achieved by 2015.

Figure 1: Africa regional targets: annual increased access to safe water and improved sanitation required to reach those who need to be served before 2015

Note: The baseline year for the proportion referred to in the targets is 1990 and highlighted in WWDR. These targets represent an annual increase of around 20 per cent in service delivery during 2004–14. If the service delivery achieved in 2014 is then maintained or increased, the target of water for all in Africa could be met by around 2020, five years before the global deadline of 2025.

Source: UNWWAP 2003


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