AfDB preparing to launch new sanitation financing facility in the new year

16th October 2023

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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The African Development Bank (AfDB) is currently operationalising a new financing mechanism to support citywide inclusive sanitation projects and development across Africa.

Developed in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the new facility, under the Africa Urban Sanitation Investment Fund Programme, seeks to provide grants and resources to help policy formulation and reforms, as well as capacity building and project support, says African Water Facility coordinator Mtchera Chirwa.

It aims to create an investment vehicle to attract commercial financing, and financing from development finance institutions and other investors, to provide official loans and financial instruments like guarantees for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Speaking at the inaugural Non-sewered Sanitation Conference, in Johannesburg, hosted by the International Water Association and the Water Research Commission, on Monday, he said that the AfDB was in the process of mobilising partnerships and that the financing window would roll out at the start of next year.

“Most of us are aware that access to sanitation is a dream for the majority of the inhabitants of Africa. Our estimates show that up to 700-million people have no access to sanitation services in Africa,” he explained, noting that in urban areas, the situation is worse owing to the well-recognized migration from rural to urban areas.

The impact across Africa is immense, not only on the health of citizens, but also the economic development of these countries, as scarce resources have to be diverted to address health conditions, he said, citing the example of a recent Cholera outbreak in Gauteng.

“Many African countries suffer from such outbreaks, as well as many other waterborne diseases as a result of a lack of access to sanitation.”

The challenge in Africa is embedded by multiple factors, including rapid urbanisation, aging and poorly maintained sanitation infrastructure and limited investment.

“The impact on African economies is estimated beyond $56-billion a year owing to a lack of sanitation. Yet we know that there are viable returns that can be realised by investing in sanitation,” he continued, highlighting World Bank estimates of about $7 in return for every dollar invested in sanitation.

Business as usual will not solve problems and, for African cities, there is a need for innovative solutions and to look beyond traditional approaches toward sanitation.

The AfDB aims to continue efforts to work with member countries to support various development activities and the development of water and sanitation is a priority, Chirwa emphasised.

“We need to support countries to undertake policy reforms and to build capacity, but also create a regulatory environment for the development of sanitation in a country's urban areas that will enable private sector [participation] including large, small and medium-sized enterprises that are able to provide the services.”

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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