This statement by H.E. Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia, was delivered on his behalf by H.E. Badara Joof during the inauguration of the International High-Level Panel o Water Investments for Africa during the Heads of State High-Level Implementation Summit of the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on 8 November 2022.
I would like to thank the organisers of this event for inviting and associating me to this event on, ‘an International High-Level Panel on Water Investments for Africa. As the world recovers from the global pandemic many countries still facing tight financial and economic challenges , this panel is a welcome and a timely initiative by Africa and for Africans.
I would like to start by congratulating the convenors of the International High-Level Panel on Water Investment for Africa; the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP,) United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), African Development Bank (AfDB), Global Center on Adaptation (GCA), and Global Water Partnership (GWP) for this landmark and laudable initiative.
The Republic of Gambia is honored to have been nominated by the convenors to join the panel along with other distinguished Heads of States and global leaders.
Gambia is currently facing significant developmental challenges due to the global economic meltdown, rapidly growing population, limited resources, and increasing threats of global warming.
Climate change is best exemplified by a negative trend in rainfall levels and a rise in average monthly temperatures since the late 1960s, which has placed tremendous pressure on resources and ecosystems. From 1950 to 2000 average annual rainfall in The Gambia decreased by about 30% and its temporal distribution has worsened.
The start of the rainy season as well as its duration have become more variable, and dry spells have increased significantly. The Gambia experienced severe drought in the early seventies which resulted in very low agricultural production. The Gambia is considered very vulnerable to climatic fluctuations.
The steady decline in rainfall over the past decades has caused reduced water security, less quantity of freshwater into the River, and increased salinity in the lowlands and aridity in the uplands. Surface evaporation is expected to increase while groundwater recharge capacity to decrease. Higher frequency and severity of extreme weather events such as drought and flooding in The Gambia will lead to increasing water quantity and quality problems, including salinization in wetland and mangrove ecosystems and loss of productivity of croplands in both uplands and lowlands
Access to potable water is a just over 86% while access to improved sanitation is about 64.9% (2016) across The Gambia. Because of inadequate financing and water investments, open defecation is prevalent in rural areas, and most communities in the peri-urban areas are not able to provide sanitation facilities for their household use thereby contributing to high prevalence of preventable WASH-related diarrheal diseases.
Higher frequency and severity of extreme weather events such as drought and flooding in The Gambia will lead to increasing water quantity and quality problems, including salinization in wetland and mangrove ecosystems and loss of productivity of croplands in both uplands and lowlands
This is why the Gambia is happy to participate in the panel. We would like to join forces and mobilise finance for implementing the Africa Water Investment Programme (AIP).
We need to close the increasing water investment gap in Africa, which is estimated to be USD 45-USD 54 billion. Only USD 10 -USD 19 billion is being invested at present.
It is an honour and pleasure for me to accept the invitation to serve on the high-level panel for water investments. I look forward work with the nominated panel Co-Chairs.
I have the pleasure to humbly welcome the High-Level Panel as an initiative that will assist African countries to implement the Continental Africa water Investment Programme (AIP), which was approved by the 34th Assembly of the African Union Heads of State and Government Summit, as part of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA-PAP 2).
The AIP is an important initiative as it aims to narrow the water investment gap by mobilizing USD 30 billion annually until 2030 to close the existing water investment gap. Excellences, Africa is at a crossroads. By 2030 no one should be left behind.
The Republic of Gambia looks forward to work with other distinguished leaders, development partners and convenors of the panel to develop concrete actionable pathways for mobilization of resources to fully implement the AIP.
The Gambia looks forward to the work of the panel and to use this opportunity to develop, and implement The Gambia Water Investment Programme under AIP.
We also welcome the recently approved AIP PIDA Water investment scorecard as a new tool to track water investments, identify bottlenecks and define areas that need further action.
It is an honour and a privilege for me to be part of the high label panel on behalf of the people of Gambia
We call on international leaders assembled here to support the AIP and the International High-Level Panel on Water Investments for Africa.
I thank you very much!