Sunday, 17 July 2011

Sanitation in Africa – the Big Challenge – AfricaSan 3

Serena O'Sullivan, from the International Secretariat, is at AfricaSan this week to work with local partners during an important political moment in addressing the sanitation crisis. AfricaSan is a major sanitation and hygiene conference taking place in Kigali, Rwanda from 19th- 21st July. Follow blogs from AfricaSan here, from both Serena and members of the coalition.

When a member of the WaterAid policy team took a close look at some new figures last year on progress towards the MDGs, the results were startling. The sanitation sub-target of MDG 7- Environmental Sustainability – will be missed by, not two years, or even two decades, but two centuries in Sub-Saharan Africa.*

This desperately lagging progress has devastating consequences across the Africa continent. People suffering from preventable diarrhea take up half of all hospital beds in Sub-Saharan Africa. Girls aren’t going to school because there’s nowhere private or safe to relieve themselves. Businesses are losing money with sick employees. And people’s dignity and rights are being compromised daily.

This is frustrating for those in the sector, as we know the solutions are present and possible – it’s just a matter of politicians pushing through plans and adequate financing for these plans to come to fruition.

Only a few countries, such as Ghana and Liberia, are taking firm steps forwards with the Sanitation and Water for All partnership, which hopes to drastically reduce those living without water and sanitation.

This is why it’s crucially important that ministers from across the continent are pushed, pressured and supported in their work on water and sanitation. And a great opportunity for civil society to hold governments to account is the bi-annual conference on sanitation and hygiene, AfricaSan, held this week in Kigali, Rwanda.

AfricaSan will run from Tuesday to Thursday and will include governments sharing the progress they’ve been making on meeting their targets on sanitation coverage, civil society will share their expectations and their own commitments in holding governments to account, and institutions such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sharing their solutions for the sector too.

End Water Poverty is represented here by myself from the International Secretariat, and by Steering Committee members Doreen Wandera (Uganda), Olivier Germain (Liberia) and Mubu Kalaluka (Zambia). You’ll be hearing from us throughout the week as we move through the CSO pre meeting on Monday, and through the main conference. Do tweet us your questions and use the comment field below too.

*The MDG target is to “Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation”.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yet another conference and after the promises and communique alluding to action, vision, progress and the need for more funding, everyone will go back to the status quo (if you are lucky). More than 600 participants at a conservative cost of $1000 each - Was it worth it? Where is the accountability from the 2008 communique? Unfortunately, these conferences do little more than provide a platform for empty words and per diems for the participants.