Franz Rojas coordinates the Water Agenda of the Sustainable Development Vice Presidency at the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF); he participated in the first of two sessions on investment plans in Latin American countries during INVESTAGUA, held on Monday April 19.
In this session, senior representatives from the Latin American region have discussed the investments planned in water infrastructure in the coming years. Franz Rojas spoke about the challenges and opportunities for the water sector in Latin America.
Concerning access gaps, Mr Rojas noted that 21 million people do not have basic access to water and 165 million do not have safe water available (hours per week, non-potable water). Furthermore, with regard to sanitation, 83 million people do not have access to basic sanitation, and 15 million of those practice open defecation. However, he pointed out that "wastewater treatment is the key challenge for the Latin American region" and that 60% of the countries (nine out of fifteen) do not cover the operation and maintenance expenses for these services.
In relation to water, Franz Rojas said the CAF has invested and mobilised from third parties more than $14 billion in water in the region. He outlined the strategic objectives of their 2019-2022 Water Strategy, namely: safe, efficient and sustainable access to water and sanitation; reducing water pollution and preserving ecosystems; access to rural irrigation services for family farms, multi-sector water development for agribusiness and productive uses; and improving water resources management and governance. "Our water strategy has water security as an umbrella", he noted. As such, he mentioned some of the most important CAF projects, including sanitation in Panama, with an investment of $828 million in the past ten years, large irrigation projects in Peru with investments worth $715 million just for the third phase, or flood drainage and control in Brazilian cities.
Concerning the perspectives for 2021-2022, he explained they have five open lines of financing, focused on the recovery of WASH services, with liquidity for water companies of up to $200 million, on leaving no one behind, pollution reduction, urban drought management and flood control, and resilient agriculture: "The pandemic has shown that the first front is water", he highlighted. In this regard, he emphasised that water companies need to recover: "We need to double the investment in water in the region". Moreover, it is also necessary to consolidate water governance and make progress in the digital transformation of the sector.