Monday, April 23, 2012

Africa: Water and Sanitation Pledges Could Deliver for Over 85 Million

The international development agency WaterAid has welcomed pledges from African Ministers that if delivered would provide 85.4 million Africans with access to these essential life saving services across the continent.

The pledges were made by developing country ministers participating in the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) High Level Meeting in Washington D.C. These commitments if realised mean that the Governments will need to strive over the next two years to increase access to water by 5% and sanitation by 7% in their countries.

The figures for increased access to water of 35.6 million people and sanitation of 49.8 million people have been calculated by WaterAid, a partner of the SWA initiative at the conclusion of the High Level Meeting that brought together a hundred developing and donor country ministers and officials from over 50 countries.

WaterAid 's discussion document Saving Lives, shows that by meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on sanitation by 2015, the lives of over 280,000 children under the age of five would be saved in Sub-Saharan Africa. At current rates of progress the continent is not expected to reach the sanitation MDG target until the year 2175, 160 years late.

WaterAid's Chief Executive, Barbara Frost stated:

A lack of safe sanitation and water and the diarrhoea it causes is the biggest killer of children in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ministers in Africa are committed to do more to reach people with water and sanitation services, and their pledges to strive for increased access for over 85 million people are much welcomed. The key challenge now will be putting in place and delivering the national plans in a timely fashion to make these commitments a reality."

WaterAid has also strongly welcomed the announcement from the UK Secretary of State for International Development, the Rt. Hon. Andrew Mitchell MP that the UK is doubling the number of people they intend to reach with water, improved hygiene and sanitation by 2015, from 30 million to at least 60 million people.

A recent DFID review showed that water, sanitation and hygiene interventions are a highly cost effective way of improving the health, welfare and livelihoods of poor people living in developing countries and represent excellent value for money. However, until now these interventions attracted just 2% of the UK's aid budget.

Barbara Frost continued:

"We are delighted that the Coalition Government has committed to double the number of people it plans to reach from 30 to at least 60 million people who will benefit from water, improved hygiene and sanitation.

"The Secretary of State has demonstrated not just through words but also in actions that the UK is truly leading the international community in tackling the water and sanitation crisis. We call on the other donors and governments to follow the UK Government's lead and redouble their efforts to achieve sanitation and water for all."

Alongside the baseline pledges 'to strive' towards increasing access to water by 5% and sanitation by 7% made by all the developing country governments participating in the High Level Meeting, governments have also tabled their own country commitments as part of this meeting.

For example, in Uganda, the Government has committed to providing 4,800,000 with improved sanitation and an additional 2,236,544 with access to safe drinking water. While in Zambia, amongst other commitments, the Government has pledged to make at least 1,000 rural wards open defecation free by 2014. The Government of Burkina Faso is committed to allocating at least 17.5 CFA billion annually ($35 million U.S.) to improving access to water sanitation.

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