16 Jun, 2016
The 6th Africa Water Week (AWW-6) was convened from 18-22 July 2016 under the auspices of the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) in conjunction with the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission. The conference was hosted by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania represented by the Ministry of Water and Irrigation.
The theme of AWW-6, the first under the SDG era, was “Setting the Platform for Implementing the SDGs on Water Security and Sanitation.”
About 50 participants attended a side event organized by the SWA at the Africa Water Week in Dar es Salaam on 18 July, 2016. Participants discussed the contributions that a multi-stakeholder partnership such as SWA can make towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They represented governments, CSOs, the private sector, research and learning institutions and external support agencies.
The event was an opportunity to update participants on the growing nature of the partnership, now with well over 110 members, more than 50 of which are countries. The Secretariat also shared the outcomes of the Meeting of Ministers responsible for water, sanitation and hygiene which took place in March, 2016 in Addis Ababa. More importantly, participants engaged in discussions on how SWA Partners can work together to support the delivery of the SDGs and maximize the added value of such a multi-stakeholder group.
Josephine Ouédraogo, Adviser to the Minister on Water of Burkina Faso, noted the significant challenges countries such as hers are facing to accelerate progress towards the SDGs. She underscored the need SWA Partners to work together and identify what needs to be accomplished. SWA should strengthen the ongoing support for cross country exchanges among governments undergoing the same challenges.
The representative from USAID, Ms Amanda Robertson, noted that “what SWA does to bring partners together is that it brings the table” around which a conversation can be had. She explained that “SWA really pushes for us to talk to come from our different perspectives and gather around key issues, which is necessary for the delivery of the SDGs”. For her, SWA analyses the gaps and gives an overview of trends.
Other representatives from different constituencies explained that the partnership provides an occasion to share information, and engage with other in-country stakeholders. They noted that the critical challenge in terms of delivery is how SWA is linked to concrete actions on the ground. A major challenge highlighted by some of the participants if the high turn-over at the political level, particularly ministers.
In closing, Baimass Taal (AMCOW) explained that SWA covers a unique niche. It pushes for dialogues encourages us to stay away from silos by promoting a discussion between ministers of finance and water and sanitation ministers. Within the sector, the Partnership encourages different actors to reach out to governments and work with them to deliver the ambitious sustainable development goals.
SWA also co-convened a CSO Forum on 16 July 2016.
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are key actors in shaping the implementation of Goal 6. CSOs need to be at the centre of the debates within Africa Water Week, so as to engage with governments, share experiences and disseminate the learnings of the week. The African Civil Society Network on Water and Sanitation (ANEW) brought civil society from across the region together for united advocacy.