Climate change investment needed now

21 June 2021 | Environment

More than 220 million children and their families in Africa are water insecure.
According to a statement by Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, and Jakaya Kikwete, former
President of the United Republic of Tanzania and Chair of the Global Water Partnership, 58% of
children in Eastern and Southern Africa and 31% of children in West and Central Africa live in areas
of high or extremely high water vulnerability. “These children are more likely to miss school to fetch
water. They are more likely to suffer malnutrition and stunting when droughts and floods impact
agricultural food production. And they are more likely to get sick when communicable diseases and
infection spread due to lack of sanitation and contaminated water quality,” the statement read.
In addition to its impact on children’s health and well-being, water insecurity also limits economic
growth and forces people to migrate. As climate change leads to unpredictable and extreme
weather patterns, and as population growth increases stress on water resources due to increased
water demand and competition, the situation will only get worse.
The reality looks bleak. Investment in climate-resilient water infrastructure in Africa currently stands
far below the levels necessary to ensure water security for the continent’s people.
According to the African Development Bank, an estimated US$64 billion should be invested
annually to meet the 2025 Africa vision of water security for all, but the actual figure invested
stands between US$10 and US$19 billion per year.
Urgent action is needed to transform the investment outlook for climate resilient water and
sanitation services in Africa. The COVID 19 pandemic has brought an added sense of urgency, with
billions of people lacking access to handwashing facilities at home.
“That is why UNICEF and the Global Water Partnership in Africa are issuing a call to action on
governments, development organisations, donors, businesses, and civil society to gather behind the
urgent need to accelerate investment in climate resilient water and sanitation services in Africa.”
The European Commission has an opportunity to prioritize water governance, water and sanitation
services, and hygiene, as part of the comprehensive strategy with Africa in the EC programming cycle
for 2021-2027. “Working together to transform the investment outlook for sustainable climate
resilient water and sanitation services is an opportunity to not only ensure water security on the
continent, but also contribute to a peaceful, prosperous, stronger and equitable Africa, now and in
the future.”

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