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COVID-19 Recovery through Climate-Resilient Water and Sanitation in Africa


Nordic Development Fund approves EUR 7.5 million Grant to African Water Facility for COVID-19 Recovery in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa

The Board of Directors of the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) has approved EUR 7.5 million in grant funding to enable the African Development Bank-hosted African Water Facility (AWF) to strengthen COVID-19 recovery investments and preparation of investment-ready projects for water supply, sanitation, and integrated water resource management in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.

The AWF is a Special Fund established by the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) in 2005, hosted and administered by the African Development Bank. The AWF assists African countries to mobilise financing and apply the funds to address water supply and sanitation needs to enable the countries to meet the African Water Vision 2025 as well as water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The program, approved by the NDF Board, “COVID-19 Recovery through Climate-Resilient Water and Sanitation in Africa,” will support the COVID-19 recovery and improve the quality of life for urban poor communities in the Sahel and Horn of Africa. The program will use a climate-resilient approach to prepare investments in water supply, sanitation and integrated water resource management. It will prioritise urban areas, with a specific focus on the urban poor, vulnerable and unserved communities displaced from the countryside because of famine, a lack of security, and climate and environmental disasters.

The proposed program builds on the partnership between the African Development Bank and the African Water Facility, the Nordic Development Fund, Denmark and other donors to prevent transmission of COVID-19. It will assist in post-pandemic recovery through a Build-Back-Better and Greener approach to prepare climate-resilient water supply, sanitation, and hygiene, or WASH, investments. The program is a follow-up to the Nordic Development Fund’s earlier grant to the AWF to finance a call for proposals for preparation of a climate-resilient water infrastructure and water resource management in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“This grant will enable the African Water Facility to fulfil its mandate of investment-ready project preparation and its climate-resilient approach to interventions in water supply, sanitation, and integrated water resource management,” said the Bank’s Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Wambui Gichuri, who is the institution’s Director for the Department of Water Development and Sanitation. “The Bank is particularly pleased that the program will place a special emphasis on the needs of poor, underserved and displaced persons as well as on gender equity in access to water and sanitation; and facilitating job creation for youth and women,” she said.  

The Nordic Development Fund is a partner in a number of ongoing Bank trust funds, including the ClimDev Special Fund, the Off-Grid Energy Access Fund, the Urban and Municipal Development Fund, as well as the AWF. The fund co-finances the Africa Climate Resilient Investment Facility, aiming to build capacity to plan, design, and implement climate-resilient investment projects. The Nordic Development Fund also participates in the AWF Governing Council meetings.

Karin Isaksson, Managing Director of NDF, said that the Fund will add substantial value through direct grant support to the AWF and the Bank to help get the COVID-19 Program off the ground. “We are very pleased to build and leverage on our relationship with the AWF to support Build-Back-Better and Greener, climate-resilient approaches. We also welcome the possibility to provide access to Nordic knowledge, technology, and potential partnerships on innovative water and sanitation solutions by financing a long-term consultant,” she said.

A 2019 external evaluation of the AWF found that, on average, each $1 the AWF contributes attracts $32 in additional follow-up investments from the Bank, governments, private sector and multilateral and bilateral development partners.

In the target countries, the average rate of access to safely managed drinking water facilities is 53.8%; the average rate of access to safely managed sanitation facilities is 23.4%; and the average proportion of population with handwashing facilities at home is 22.4%. This situation constrains the use of water and sanitation as a measure to contain the spread of COVID-19 and other water-related infectious diseases.

More information:

Regional Africa: COVID-19 recovery through climate-resilient water and sanitation in Africa [NDF C128]
African Water Facility 

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The programme will combat COVID-19 and strengthen the recovery through investments in water supply, sanitation, and water resources management activities in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. The programme delivery will use a build-back-better and green, climate-resilient approach to target particularly poor, vulnerable and unserved urban communities displaced from the countryside by insecurity, famine and climate/environmental disasters.