Mwinyi, JK scoop global presidential awards on water

ZANZIBAR President Hussein Mwinyi and former Union President Jakaya Kikwete have each scooped this year’s Presidential Global Water Changemakers Award presented at the UN Water Conference in New York, on Wednesday.

Whereas Dr Mwinyi has been awarded for local country leadership following the Zanzibar Water Investment Programme, Dr Kikwete has received the prize for demonstrating high level political commitment and leadership for climate resilient water security in Africa.

According to the statement from the Water Changemaker Awards, Dr Mwinyi and Dr Kikwete were among six recipients of the awards.

Other recipients are Mr Macky Sall, President of Senegal and Chair of the African Union, Mr Hage Geingob, President of Namibia, Mr Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Mr Hakainde Hichilema, President of Zambia.

The awards were presented during the launch of the International High-Level Panel Report on Water Investments in Africa titled Pathways for Mobilisation of 30 billion US dollars annually by 2030 at the ongoing UN Water Conference in New York, the first United Nations conference on water issues since 1977.

The objective of the International High-Level Panel on Water Investments in Africa is to develop actionable pathways for mobilising 30 billion US dollars annually by 2030, for implementing the Continental Africa Water Investment Programme (AIP) and closing the existing water investment gap in Africa.

Currently, over 300 million Africans do not have access to clean drinking water and over 700 million live without access to good sanitation.

Approximately 50 billion US dollars annually or 40 US dollars per African per year is required to achieve water security and sustainable sanitation in Africa by 2030.

Meanwhile, at the UN Water Conference 2023, member states have been urged to close the water management gap as well as implement the water convention.

This was among what issues transpired during the conference, according to Head of Communications at the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office in Tanzania, Ms Stella Vuzo, who was briefing the media in Dar es Salaam, yesterday.

A UN report on the state of the world’s water shows that more than 5 billion people could suffer water shortages by 2050 due to climate change, increased demand and polluted supplies.

Ms Vuzo recalled UN’s Secretary General Mr António Guterres address in which he described water as a human right and a common development denominator to shape a better future.

“Despite the fact that water is the ecosystem and biodiversity that enrich the world, water is in deep trouble,” said Mr Guterres, noting that people are draining humanity’s lifeblood through vampiric overconsumption and unsustainable use and evaporating it through global heating.

According to him, nearly three out of four natural disasters are linked to water and one in four people live without safely managed water services or clean drinking water.

Thus, encouraged member states to massively invest in water and sanitation systems, focus on resilience, finding new ways to recycle and conserve water and to address climate change.

“We need action to ensure everyone has access to clean and safe water supplies. Everyone can be part of the solution,” he said.

For her part, the National Information Officer at the United Nations Information Centres in Dar es Salaam, Ms Nafisa Didi noted that more than 700 children under the age of five die every day from waterborne diseases.

“Universal access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene is critical to global health. On average, a four-fold increase in current rates of progress would be required to achieve universal coverage by 2030.

“Achieving these targets would help save 8292, lives annually, which is currently the number of people that die from diseases directly related to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene practices,” she said.

Ms Vuzo suggested that Sustainable Development Goal 6 on safe water and adequate sanitation was indispensable to achieve other goals as they underpin poverty reduction, good health, economic growth and sustainable ecosystems.

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