Africa seeks one voice on climate change
Africa’s Ministers for Water are in South Africa for a conference on climate change.
The Second Africa Water Conference seeks to consolidate the continent’s position ahead of the conference on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark, in coming weeks.
The one-week conference also hopes to find solutions to trans-boundary water management to avoid conflicts over the resource.
"Many donors approach us with strategies that are not ideal for Africa, therefore, it is important that African Water ministries speak one voice," said the African Ministers’ Council executive secretary Bai-Mass Taal.
Their concerns are that Africa produces a tiny fraction of the carbon emissions, but are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
The conference heard that rural poor would be the most affected.
Experts predict the greatest impact would be felt in agriculture. Projections show yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 per cent.
Besides climate change, the ministers are also meeting to assess progress on achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on water and sanitation before the 2015 deadline.
Twenty-six countries are on track to meet the MDGs, while only six countries would reach the sanitation target. Experts say if countries continue with the current pace, the earliest they would meet the target is 2040.
"The next war will most likely be fought over water," said South Africa’s Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Buyelwa Sonjica.
From the Nairobi Declaration, Africa proposed that developed countries cut their carbon emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2020.
The declaration also called for increased support for Africa based on the continent’s priorities, including adaptation, financing and technology transfer.
Civil society groups have asked governments to ensure, "African interests, including full funding for mitigation and adaptation measures, which include water, as well as meaningful reductions in emissions by developed countries, are represented internationally at the Copenhagen meeting and beyond".