July 22, 2011
African governments are increasingly under pressure to ‘walk the talk’ on sanitation.
According to a statement from WaterAid- an international nongovernmental organisation whose mission is to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in the world’s poorest communities- grassroots activists in Africa came together at AfricaSan 3, in the Rwandan capital Kigali to demand that their leaders and international governments demonstrate strong leadership and take urgent action on the continent’s critical sanitation situation.
Civil society representatives and community leaders came together to present one voice at the only Africa-wide conference on sanitation.
In consultation with over 230 African civil society organizations (CSOs), international non-governmental organisations WaterAid, Freshwater Action Network (FAN), Water Supply and sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and the End Water Poverty campaign, they are calling for their governments and development partners to:
– Develop clear financial plans to ensure that 0.5 percent of GDP is spent on sanitation, as per the eThekwini Declaration, and that these funds are targeted to those most in need
– Work together to support the global Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) partnership to ensure high-level coordination of funds, targets and practises.
– Work transparently so their progress can be monitored and assessed, especially in relation to the implementation of the Human Right to Water and Sanitation
“Despite our collective efforts, since the last AfricaSan2.1 million children under-five have died of diarrhoea caused by poor sanitation, water and hygiene in Africa,” civil society leader Doreen Wandera Kabasindi from Uganda is quoted.
“We are striving to bring an end to these preventable deaths and this huge suffering so we call on our governments to take urgent action.”
These calls come on the backdrop of a new progress report from WaterAid, WSSCC and Unicef which shows there is still much to be done if Africa is to meet the Millennium Development Goal for sanitation and stick to its eThekwini Declaration commitments.
“We would like to see our recommendations taken seriously and reflected in the final AfricaSan statement as well as in national policies going forward,” said Nelson Gomonda, Pan Africa Manager for WaterAid, “If African leaders are sincere about stopping millions of needless deaths, they must follow their consciences and deliver on the promises they have made.”
Only 31 percent of people living in Africa have adequate access to sanitation, despite sanitation and water being a recognised human right.
This is a situation which is having a devastating impact on the health, education, economic and social standing of the poorest people. Diarrhoea linked to inadequate sanitation is now recognised as the biggest killer of children in Africa, and it is estimated that lack of safe water and sanitation costs the region around five percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year.
Without strong and targeted action from governments and donors, this inequality of access and the resulting poverty looks set to increase.
The conference held from July 19-21, 2011 in Kigali, Rwanda attracted over 600 ministers and experts from African countries to review commitments set out in the eThekwini Declaration in 2008.