The Dakar World Water Forum in March 2022: Time for Concrete Responses

Published on Wednesday 9 March 2022

By Abdoulaye SENE and Patrick LAVARDE, Co-Chairs o f the Preparatory Committee for the th World Water Forum.

The World Water Forum, set to take place in Dakar from 21 through 26 March 2022, will focus on the theme “Water security for peace and development”. The event represents a major milestone on the road to the 2023 United Nations Midterm Review Conference, which will assess progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 6 on water and sanitation.

As the first Forum to be held in Africa, the continent lagging the farthest behind in terms of access to water and sanitation, the 9th World Water Forum will shine a light on the gaping chasm between objectives and reality, which is nowhere more drastic than in sub-Saharan Africa, a region with one of the world’s lowest rates of access to drinking water and sanitation. And a lack of access to water also places health, hygiene and food security in jeopardy, a problem that weighs on the day-to-day life of populations facing water insecurity and that poses a major obstacle to development. This is why the Forum is placing special emphasis on issues surrounding access to drinking water and sanitation.

Over half of the world’s cities are experiencing water supply difficulties amidst ever‑increasing urban concentration. The Forum will, of course, consider the urban situation, though its primary focus will be on rural areas, which are often overlooked, if not outright forgotten. The imbalance between rural and urban areas must be corrected and the living conditions of rural populations improved via massive investment in rural water and sanitation services, following the example of Senegal’s Community Development Emergency Program (PUDC).

Thanks in no small part to the preparatory contributions of SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL, the Forum will also address specific issues surrounding access to water and sanitation in humanitarian emergencies in order to meet populations’ needs with concrete responses.

On a broader level, a number of countries are plagued by water scarcity, particularly those in the Sahel region where water is vital to both security and development. In rural areas, conflicts arising from extensive population movements are intensifying, as are conflicts among various types of water users, such as breeders and farmers. The combination of rapid population growth and devastating climate change calls for urgent action.

The Dakar Forum will, accordingly, be action‑oriented: because the time has come to start implementing solutions and delivering responses. Despite significant disruptions to the preparatory process due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a diverse group of some thousand institutions has worked on the Forum’s four priorities (water security and sanitation; water for rural development; cooperation; means and tools), each corresponding to the water‑related Sustainable Development Goals. These multi-stakeholder working groups have identified a number of concrete responses which will be presented over the course of roughly one hundred themed sessions. The Forum will also highlight the
hundred or so projects that have received “Initiative Dakar 2022” certification.

A wide-ranging group of stakeholders from around the world has stepped up to take part in this collaborative effort. As important as it
is for us to showcase responses implemented in specific contexts, the ultimate goal is to adapt these responses for rapid, wide-scale replication. Cooperation will be critical to achieving the water-related SDGs, because no one stakeholder can do it alone. Solid governance and adequate funding will also be needed.

Lastly, political will is essential. As the first member state to formally engage the United Nations Security Council on water issues, Senegal is particularly well-positioned to stand alongside the World Water Council and make the case for water issues to move up political agendas at every level. This will be the main objective of the Heads of State and Government Meeting, and of meetings of elected officials, local authorities and regional water authorities.

We look forward to seeing all water stakeholders in Dakar next March.

©Tiecoura N’Daou

Support our work in the field

> Donate now