WATER AND SANITATION PROBLEMS RAVAGE AFRICA.

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By Joseph Ngome
Kisumu, Kenya.

KENYA, The disclosure that only four countries in Africa continent have managed to provide better sanitation to their citizens leaves a lot to be desired by all concerns. It’s a great concern because most of the countries on the continent have not reached the goal even to provide adequate quality water to their population.

Now, where do Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, and South Africa that have been accredited to have achieved this feat leave other African states? This was a concern to the participants at the 2011 World Water Day celebrated in Cape Town, South Africa. And it remains a concern that needs some immediate solutions. Sanitation has been given a second deck in most countries notwithstanding the state of water provision in those countries. Some cities and towns have done very little to provide sanitation facilities in most of their institutions, Kenya is included.

Poor sanitation remains a big problem in most slums in urban centers in Africa

Kisumu city in Kenya, for instance, continue to grapple with provision of adequate water to meet the demand of 500,000 residents of the city and thus make sanitation provision a tall order to achieve.

The Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company (KIWASCO), Managing Director, Eng. David Onyango says the city has since embraced the provision of sanitation to town dwellers although sewerage facilities have not received the deserving attention.

French Development Agencies (AFD) gave Kisumu City Council USD 25 million to rehabilitate the water and sewerage systems in the city by the year 2008, he said. The company received USD 562,500 for Phase I completed by 2008 that was to increase water supply and improve sewerage disposal in the city.

The balance of USD 18 million was to be increased by another USD 12.5 million bringing to total USD 37.5 million funds by AFD to Kisumu Municipal Council to complete the remaining phases that includes new pumps and sewerage plant improvement, Eng. Onyango says.
But to-date sanitation still remains a problem in Kisumu city as in other cities across the African continent.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) around 1.1 billion people globally do not have access to improved water supply sources whereas 2.4 billion people do not have access to any type of improved sanitation facility.

About 2 million people die every year due to diarrhoeal diseases; most of them are children less than 5 years of age. The most affected are the populations in developing countries, living in extreme conditions of poverty, normally peri-urban dwellers or rural inhabitants.

Among the main problems which are responsible for this situation are: lack of priority given to the sector, lack of financial resources, lack of sustainability of water supply and sanitation services, poor hygiene behaviours, and inadequate sanitation in public places including hospitals, health centres and schools. As it was found out in Kenya recently, most schools do not have pit latrines let alone toilets. Providing access to sufficient quantities of safe water, the provision of facilities for a sanitary disposal of excreta, and introducing sound hygiene behaviours are of capital importance to reduce the burden of disease caused by these risk factors, according to World health Organization (WHO).

African Development Bank says that these four countries have achieved some Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but most countries in the South of Sahara have no adequate water and sanitation.

But one fundamental question that comes to people’s mind is: can sanitation be made a human right as it has been done with water as a human right?” UN Habitat in conjunction with some financial institutions including The World Bank plans to provide those facilities in rural and urban and already a sum of USD 21 million shillings have been allocated to ADB to work with.

The Mayor of Cape Town city in South Africa says that a total of 24 million people visit the city annually and the city has the capacity to provide the basin necessities that make the residents of the city live with dignity!

During the 2011 World Water Day event in Cape Town, the Chairperson of African Ministers of Council of Water (AMCOW) said there is no life without water and that water is human right! Perhaps if that motto can be accommodated by all other states and then access to water can be a thing of the past.

However, the provision of water to the Informal sector in Cape Town city in South Africa looks bright according to the Chief Director of Water West Cape Province Mr. Rashid Khan. He said provision of water in South Africa is in three tiers where National Government, Local Government and Municipalities are involved.

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