2030 Water Resources Group (WRG) teams from Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania, together with associates from the Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN) – the 2030 WRG-supported multi-stakeholder platform in South Africa – and colleagues from the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) convened in Nairobi at the end of May for a knowledge exchange and retreat aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of 2030 WRG in Africa.
The retreat explored ways to scale 2030 WRG interventions through greater alignment with IFC and World Bank strategies, and harmonization with the One World Bank and Maximizing Finance for Development agendas, which aim to increase collaboration across all World Bank agencies and systematically leverage all sources of finance, expertise, and solutions to support developing countries’ sustainable growth, respectively.
Speaking at the opening session of the event, Jumoke Jagun-Dokunmu, IFC Regional Director for Eastern Africa said that the realities of climate change demanded more creative thinking around how to leverage financing, expertise, and innovation to solve persistent water challenges. IFC, a member of the World Bank Group is committed to expanding access to clean water and improved sanitation in developing countries, and; “We see tremendous opportunities for leveraging our expertise and track record in structuring PPPs across water service provision, agriculture, and promoting investment in water-efficient manufacturing,” she added.
2030 WRG was also challenged to create a more enabling environment for the private sector to participate in the water space by clarifying the process for companies to engage with the various authorities and ministries governing the sector. An estimate by one participant put the ratio of IFC’s advisory services to actual investment in the water space as five to one, a result that they attributed to the complexity and cost of maneuvering in such an administratively and legislatively opaque environment.
In a panel discussion focusing on delivering as ‘One World Bank Group’ participants highlighted 2030 WRG’s unparalleled convening power. Where WBG’s large and diverse portfolio in lending and knowledge exchange provides 2030 WRG with an opportunity to develop its operational expertise and technical knowledge, the WBG can benefit from 2030 WRG’s expertise in recognizing and mobilizing the private sector as a critical constituency.
On the close of the first day, Helene Rex, Program Leader for Sustainable Development at the World Bank stressed that solving the water challenge will require more effective policies and inclusive strategies, additional and innovative forms of domestic and international financing, community participation in decision-making, efficient long-term human and institutional capacity, and smarter technologies.
“The 2030 Water Resources Group is today a credible example of such a partnership and innovation” she said, “successfully building a network of multi-stakeholder platforms that bring together the private and public sectors as equal partners for dialogue and collective action.”
Days two and three of the retreat featured presentations, panels, and facilitated debates on a range of topics including: improving utility resilience and reducing non-revenue water; project management in a partnership environment; MSP sustainability; and incorporating circular economy approaches into wastewater treatment and re-use. The retreat was also an opportunity for colleagues who had recently joined 2030 WRG – the Africa teams grew from ten to 21 in the past year – to meet for the first time and exchange lessons and best practices.