Barriers to sub-Saharan Africa’s progress on water, sanitation

A girl carries a pail of water near Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. The African Development Bank ranked Tanzania as one the worst performers when it comes to progress on meeting water and sanitation-related development goals. Photo by: David Dennis / CC BY-SA

Differences in financial and operational capacities among governments: These are — quite unsurprisingly — the two major factors why progress on meeting water and sanitation-related development goals across sub-Saharan Africa is largely uneven.

This is according to a new African Development Bank report that compares and analyzes the performance of sub-Saharan African countries in the water and sanitation sector. The bank also compares how effectively countries used development aid they got for this sector, which received less than 0.1 percent of total aid disbursed to the region between 1995 and 2008.

The best performers, according to AfDB’s analysis, are Angola, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic, Malawi and Comoros. The report singles out Angola, whose performance it says is “considerable” despite having among the least resources for water and sanitation sector development.

The worst performers and highly unlikely to meet their targets by 2015 are Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Congo, Gabon and Madagascar.

Here are factors the report says affect the sub-Saharan African countries’ progress toward the United Nations-set targets on sanitation and access to water:

  • Understaffing and lack of technical qualification in relevant government agencies.

  • Lack of adequate operation and maintenance programs in donor-financed projects.

  • Inadequate national capacities to implement national strategies.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.