State of water quality monitoring and pollution control in Africa: towards developing an African Water Quality Program (AWaQ)

Share this to :

The African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) Secretariat committed to design and implement an African Water Quality Program (AWaQ) in its Strategic Operational Plan (2020-2024) considering the guiding frameworks it uses such as the Africa Water Vision 2025, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the African Union Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. AMCOW reached out to the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) to support the development of such a program.

AWaQ builds on the rich experiences and lessons learned from past and ongoing regional and subregional water quality initiatives across Africa by different players, including African Union institutions, and the wider members of the World Water Quality Alliance (WWQA), as well as the AMCOW African Water and Sanitation Sector Monitoring and Reporting System (WASSMO).

The five phases of developing an African Water Quality Program (AWaQ) are explained in the following papers:

1. State of Water Quality Monitoring and Pollution Control in Africa (phase 1-2)
2. Innovations in Water Quality Monitoring and Management in Africa (phase 3-4)
3. A Framework for an African Water Quality Program (AWaQ) (phase 5)
4. Country Water Quality Profiles

This paper is the first from the above list and is a baseline assessment of the status of water quality monitoring and pollution control in Africa, including the capacities available across countries in the region. This assessment considers various past and ongoing initiatives related to water quality monitoring and management, capacity development, and water pollution control and impact mitigation.

Key findings of this paper highlight the following:

1. There is an encouraging availability of national water testing laboratory facilities across African countries. Nonetheless, there are weaknesses that require attention to ensure effectiveness and sustainability.
2. Regular and ongoing training is needed to keep up with laboratory testing methodologies. However, we observed a low trend in regular training, which does not augur well for keeping abreast of the best practices in water quality monitoring. In the context of emerging pollutants, training needs to be more regular than is currently experienced.
3. Water quality monitoring and management capacities are patchy. Capacities related to staff training, laboratory infrastructure and monitoring program activities need strengthening.
4. Pollution control mechanisms are facing challenges. Regulatory mechanisms and wastewater treatment technologies—the most widely deployed pollution control solutions—may benefit from more concerted investment, and the political will and financing to boost their effectiveness.


Mukuyu, Patience; Jayathilake, Nilanthi; Tijani, M.; Nikiema, Josiane; Dickens, Chris; Mateo-Sagasta, Javier; Chapman, D. V.; Warner, S. 2024. State of water quality monitoring and pollution control in Africa: towards developing an African Water Quality Program (AWaQ). Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute (IWMI). 44p. (IWMI Working Paper 207) [doi:]

Share this to :