Water crisis in Africa prompts launch of “Blue Community” initiative

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Recognizing the dire need to protect water resources and expand access to clean water and sanitation across Africa, government leaders and advocacy groups today launched the “Blue Community” initiative at a ceremony in Ghana’s capital.

The campaign aims to build a unified effort among nations, NGOs, private companies and local communities to enshrine water as a commons that belongs to everyone. By adopting this shared framework, organizers hope to prevent further water pollution, depletion and privatization.

“Water is the essence of life, an indispensable resource that sustains human existence and underpins our economic activities,” said Dr. Alexander Ampabeng, Deputy Minister for Finance, in remarks at the launch event. “Recognizing this, the Government of Ghana has consistently prioritized the sustainable management of our water resources and the provision of reliable sanitation services.”

Dr. Ampabeng outlined several key Ghanaian policies supporting the Blue Community principles, including increased funding for water and sanitation projects, public-private partnerships, community engagement programs, sector reforms, water quality monitoring, completing major supply projects, and expanding solid waste management.

“Together, let us strive to create a future where every individual enjoys the right to clean water and improved sanitation,” Dr. Ampabeng stated.

Despite progress in Ghana and some other nations, the water crisis remains acute across much of Africa. The United Nations estimates that hundreds of millions of Africans still lack basic access to safe drinking water and sanitation – a situation made more precarious by the impacts of climate change, urbanization and inadequate infrastructure.

Mr. Aloysius Adjietey, Chief Executive of Ghana’s Community Water and Sanitation Agency, highlighted the life-or-death stakes in his address to the assembly.

“Water is life. It is a basic human right,” Mr. Adjietey said. “Yet across Africa, millions of people still lack access to clean and safe water. This reality starkly contrasts with our collective aspiration to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 – ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030.”

Mr. Adjietey emphasized that the Blue Community campaign must catalyze stronger policy frameworks, transparency and investment in resilient water systems to make progress. “I reaffirm our full support for this campaign. We stand ready to collaborate with all stakeholders to ensure that the rights of every African to water and sanitation are upheld and protected.”

While organizations like the Community Water and Sanitation Agency have expanded rural water access in Ghana to over 60% as of 2023, Mr. Adjietey acknowledged “challenges remain” due to urbanization, climate impacts and aging infrastructure.

Organizers say the launch marks just the beginning, with more nations expected to join the commitment to enshrine water as a commons governed by principles of preservation, equitable distribution and responsible treatment. Municipalities across Africa will be urged to formally adopt the Blue Community framework through legislative actions.

“Governments, private sector, civil society, and international partners must collaborate to guarantee that all citizens have access to these fundamental services,” Dr. Ampabeng declared. For the 400 million Africans still waiting for that promise, today’s launch offers a renewed vision for making water a right, not a commodity.

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