Toilet Day marked with US$500 million commitment to new sanitation funding
Abidjan – As the African Development Bank joined the international community to observe World Toilet Day on 19 November, the organization is putting considerable financial muscle into the global effort to improve toilets, and sanitation in general.
The Bank partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other multilateral development institutions in Beijing, 6 to8 November in what was billed as the Reinvented Toilet Expo (RTE), a global search for more sanitary, healthier, and even lucrative solutions to the enduring challenge of human waste disposal.
Figures collected by the World Health Organization show that about 800 million people in Africa lack access to basic sanitation. This leads to substantial health risks and negative economic and environmental impacts. At the recent African Water Week that ended in Libreville, Gabon, 2 November, the Bank’s Director of Water Development and Sanitation, Wambui Gichuri, pointed out that rapid population growth and the fastest urbanization rate in the world are compounding these challenges. She said these are associated with a growing demand for water and increased generation of waste, yet without the attendant planning and investments.
“We need to work smarter,” said Gichuri, “working with science and technology to change the face of sanitation in Africa, from a problem causing millions of deaths, to a resource that generates revenue and improves the livelihoods of the people on the continent,” she said before the Beijing RTE event.
The Bank announced a new initiative to promote innovation and inclusive sanitation services for sub-Saharan Africa’s urban inhabitants at the Beijing Expo. The Bank’s Africa Urban Sanitation Investment Fund Programme, with support from the Gates Foundation, is funding the initiative designed to focus on the poor.
The African Development Bank aims to establish the first African Urban Sanitation Investment Fund (AUSIF). The programme builds on the partnership between the Gates Foundation, the African Water Facility and the African Development Bank started in 2011. The Bank and African Water Facility are committed to raising at least US$ 500 million in new, inclusive sanitation investments for the AUSIF from public and private sources. At least 30 percent of those resources will finance non-sewered sanitation innovation that directly serves low-income communities.
This partnership with the Gates Foundation and other development organizations will enable the African Water Facility, an initiative of the African Ministers’ Council on Water hosted by the Bank, to structure the AUSIF to leverage public and private sector investment. It would also enable the fund to build a pipeline of projects under a new set of sanitation investment principles called City Wide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS).
One of the Bank’s High 5s priorities aims to “improve the quality of life for the people of Africa” by promoting decent toilets for all. The Bank is supporting actions towards sustainable toilets to increase access to affordable sanitation services with improved hygiene and livelihoods.