World Water Day | Accelerating Change, March 22, 2023
Mrs Apolline BAMBARA,
PhD in Engineering Sciences and Technologies
Sahara and Sahel Observatory
The World Water Day is celebrated on March 22 of every year since 1993. It emphasizes the importance of freshwater resources, raises awareness among decision-makers on the situation of access to drinking water for the populations, the most vulnerable in particular. Besides, this day aims to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) : clean water and sanitation, for all by 2030.
The 2023 theme : "Accelerating change to solve the water and sanitation crisis" corresponds to the United Nations 2023 Water Conference which will be held in New York on March 22-24. It will bring together all the water sector key players and will aim to establish new partnerships and make commitments that should lead to more concrete and more urgent actions to achieve SDG 6.6.
Two billion people on Earth do not have access to drinking water. Even if there are some inequalities between the sub-regions and the countries, the situation is still alarming in Africa where the average water availability is only about 210 m3/inhabitant/year compared to 512 m3/inhabitant /year worldwide. This is partly explained by the weak potential for the development of water resources. The water stress situation is really noticeable and very worrying for the future because, according to the World Meteorological Organization ‘’State of the Climate in Africa 2021’’ report, 4 out of 5 African countries will no longer have sustainably managed water resources by 2030 if no action is undertaken.
Moreover, the continent is prone to the climate change effects which are exacerbating the already delicate water stress situation in several countries, and most of the African countries do not have enough capacity to implement integrated and sustainable water resources management. Very often times, the countries do not adopt coordinated strategies in managing the shared water resources of the continent. It is therefore more than urgent to take measures at all social, political and institutional levels to overcome water stress and ensure water security for all communities.
In this regard, the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS), with the support of its member countries and other partners, has been actively working for three decades for the sustainable management of natural resources, the water resources in particular. The various OSS efforts contribute to the improvement of water availability, to the water supply of the populations, to the sustainable management and protection of water resources in its area of action to maintain peace and food security. It has brought a change in the management of water resources and particularly shared trans-boundary groundwater, namely : the North Western Sahara Aquifer System (NWSAS) and the Iullemeden-Taoudéni/Tanezrouft Aquifer System (ITTAS) through the establishment of consultation frameworks managed by the countries, capacity building in terms of good practices, the improvement and sharing of knowledge on the Integrated Water Resources Management as well as their Information Systems.
The OSS has also provided support to the countries in improving the availability of water resources in a climate change context through specific proposals for the development of alternative resources such as the use of unconventional water (treated wastewater, sea water desalination, etc.).
At this critical stage and through its 2021-2030 strategy, the OSS is committed to reinforcing and boosting its actions in its area of intervention through the mobilization of funds for the benefit of the countries to improve access to water, knowledge sharing, the dissemination of good practices and the preservation of natural resources.