Only 26 countries were on track to meet their targeted Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on water and six for sanitation, African Minister's Council on Water (Amcor) general secretary Bai-mass Taal told the second Africa Water week on Monday.
"If we continue at this rate, we will meet the MDGs target for water in 2036 and the sanitation target in 2109.
"It is time for action, there have been many declarations and it is time for implementation," cautioned Taal.
South Africa's Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica added that a mechanism was also needed to help quantify progress and to monitor MDG successes.
Finance Ministers, she said, should be part of future deliberations, so that there was not an over reliance on donor funding.
The issue of climate change, where Africa had a common policy position, also had to be integrated in future planning.
Emphasis would need to be given to adaptation, as well as ensuring that Africa had funding and technology access to meet its adaptation goals.
"If the predictions on the impact of climate change are correct, it will impact on our water resources," Sonjica warned, adding that there was a real threat of extreme drought and/or floods.
"The knock-on effect will be on food security in some parts of the continent. We need to invest in technology that will help use water efficiently for agriculture, and technology that will help us with early-warning systems," noted Sonjica.
South Africa would contribute both in helping to develop policy and with funding.