There is a need to increase regional and international cooperation to reduce vulnerability to climate change and ensure resilience, Ms. Sibongile Mavimbela, Southern African Development Community (SADC) Senior Programme Officer, Environment and Climate Change, has said.
She was speaking at the end of the High-Level Water Investment Conference held in Zanzibar from 8-11 March 2022. The conference was co-hosted by His Excellency Dr Hussein Ali Mwinyi, President of Zanzibar and Chairman of the Revolutionary Council, and H.E. Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, Chair of Global Water Partnership Southern Africa and Africa Coordination (GWPSA-ACU) and former President of the United Republic of Tanzania.
It was convened by GWPSA-ACU in partnership with Ministry of Water, Energy and Minerals of Zanzibar and in collaboration with the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), African Ministers Council on Water, African Development Bank (AfDB), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations International Children's Educational Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Bank, and Development Bank of Southern Africa.
The conference was preceded by a three-day SADC Climate Finance Training Hybrid Workshop attended by 14 out of 16 SADC Member States, physically as well as over 20 online participants.
The workshop was organised as part of the SADC Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) programme which seeks to increase the capabilities of SADC Member States to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, in support of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP 2020-2030), Africa Agenda 2063 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and to have their voice better heard in the international climate change negotiations.
The objectives of the workshop were to introduce the main global climate financing mechanisms, and the processes and requirements for accessing them; introduce the Green Climate Fund (GCF) funding opportunities; share experiences in preparing GCF Proposals; identify climate finance opportunities that are available for SADC Member States; and discuss areas of support that are required by the Member States to access climate finance.
Ms. Mavimbela said water is an important driver of socio-economic development in the SADC Region as indicated in the SADC Water Policy and Strategy (2006). Optimal water management supports the development objectives on poverty reduction, food security, energy security and industrial development.
She said various challenges in integrated water resources management exist in the Region, including highly variable rainfall and uneven water distribution, high water demands resulting in spatial and temporary scarcities, and challenges related to national and regional water governance and financing of water management.
The SADC Region's high vulnerability to the impacts of climate change is due to its economies' dependency on natural resources and agriculture, sectors that are acutely affected by climate fluctuations. Climate change poses a number of risks to the SADC Region and largely to the African continent. These impacts include increased frequency of floods, cyclones, and droughts.
Ms. Mavimbela said SADC's strategic partnerships with GWPSA from a water and climate change perspective is growing from strength to strength, in accelerating support in both sectors to the 16 Member States.
The investment conference explored perspectives for accelerating mobilisation of investments to narrow the water investment gap in Africa for climate resilience development. Delivery of water investments in Africa is lagging the continent's economic and social needs.
More than 300 delegates from across the SADC Region and the rest of Africa attended the conference and called for the transformation of the water and sanitation investment in Zanzibar to narrow the investment gap in the sector as part of the post COVID-19 economy recovery.
The delegates called upon African countries to implement the Africa Water Investment Plan-Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (AIP-PIDA) Water Investment Scorecard through development of response strategies and investment programmes aimed at ensuring adaptation to climate change, climate resilient Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), combating pandemics, and ensuring food security.
They also upon partners to support SADC in efforts to mobilise climate finance for countries.
The Zanzibar Water Investment Programme, which will mobilise over US$665,5 million between 2022 and 2027 towards securing clean and sustainable water supply for the island's population and fast growing economic, was launched during the conference by H.E. Dr Mwinyi.
The Zanzibar Water Investment Programme is the first country-specific programme designed under the Continental Africa Water Investment Programme (AIP), which aims to mobilise US$30 billion per year towards water security in Africa. The AIP was adopted by African Union Heads of State and Government, as part of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa – Priority Action Plan 2 (PIDA-PAP 2) in 2021. The Scorecard was launched at PIDA Week on 2 March 2022.
The Conference served to showcase an innovative new tool developed through an iterative and consultative pan-African process which will support countries to attract investments into the sector, the AIP-PIDA Water Investment Scorecard which was formally adopted at the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union in February 2022 as part of PIDA.
H.E Kikwete said the scorecard will rally political leadership and commitment to transform the investment outlook for water and sanitation towards the realisation of Sustainable Development Goal 6 by supporting countries to track progress, identify bottlenecks, and take action.