Support for the Water Directorate of the African Union

Project description

Title: Supporting the Water Directorate of the African Union Commission (AUC)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), European Commission
Country: Africa, transboundary (AU Member States)
Lead executing agency: Water Directorate of the African Union Commission (AUC)
Overall term: 2009 to 2015


In Africa, some 285 million people (28 per cent of the population) still have no access to clean drinking water, and 424 million (41 per cent) are without sanitation facilities. Without access to water and sanitation only very limited progress is possible in the areas of economics, health, gender or environment. Meanwhile, two thirds of the African population live in the catchment areas of 59 international river basins. To meet these people’s needs for water and sanitation, while preventing conflicts and managing the water resources across borders, it is essential to formulate and coordinate strategies at pan-African and regional levels. The AU Commission has called upon the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) to develop a strategy for the implementation of the 2008 Sharm El-Sheikh commitments on water and sanitation. GIZ is working to strengthen the capacities of the main partners involved in fulfilling these commitments: the Water Directorate of the African Union Commission (AUC Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, AUC-DREA) and AMCOW.


AUC-DREA and AMCOW have been strengthened to the extent that they are able to fulfil their mandates under the Sharm el Sheikh commitments. Action plans agreed at pan-African and regional levels are implemented in priority areas with the assistance of key partners. AMCOW leads the African policy dialogue with respect to water and sanitation, and the management of water resources.


With the support of GIZ, AMCOW has successfully managed a process leading to the continent-wide acceptance of an implementation strategy for the Sharm El-Sheikh commitments.

The GIZ project addresses three core areas to improve the approach and the performance of AUC, AMCOW and the regional institutions (the regional economic communities, RECs, and the river and lake basin organisations, R/LBOs):

  1. Development of an implementation strategy and the related processes
  2. Improvement of internal organisation and communication between the pan-African and regional levels, institutions and civil society – including the definition of roles and responsibilities
  3. Provision of advice and support to AUC and AMCOW on the integration of transboundary water resources management at regional and national Levels.

This pan-African project, which enjoys the support of the European Union Commission, addresses all the AU Member States, and it works closely with other German projects in the water sector, at both, regional and national levels.


The project measures are significantly improving the resources available to AUC and AMCOW. The 5th African Water Week fostered networking and exchange between the ca. 1,000 participants from different backgrounds such as research, policymaking, non-governmental and international organisations, and civil society . Together the participants issued the closing Dakar Declaration, with commitments to further improve access to water and sanitation, and the management of Africa’s water resources.

Implementation of the Kigali Action Plan (2015 to 2020) has begun. In ten pilot countries, this attempts to provide access to water for additional five million people, and to sanitation for another five million. In the process of producing the annual Status Reports on Water and Sanitation, 47 of the 54 AU Member States and the relevant regional economic communities have so far begun submitting and discussing their water and sanitation-related data.

Regular meetings now take place involving 15 to 20 actors from the regional economic communities and river and lake basin organisations, in order to agree upon and implement a pan-African action plan on water resources management.
The results of this project will benefit the urban and the rural poor of Africa alike, with a stronger emphasis on women and girls.