….Designed to Monitor WASH Commitments – By: WASH R&E “Media” Network – The Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) has successfully conducted a 3-Day Regional Training Workshop on Advocacy, Communications and Monitoring of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Commitments.
The Workshop held in Cotonou, Benin from February 18-20, 2014 brought together journalists and civil society actors on meeting the Post 2015 targets on Water and Sanitation.
It mainly brought together media practitioners from the West Africa WASH Journalists Network.
Speaking at the official opening ceremony, the Health Minister of Benin Dorothe Kinde Gazard said the issue of Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) has gained importance on the international agenda in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
She however acknowledged challenges facing the WASH sector and called for increased measures to address them.
Minister Gazard noted that three out of ten people wash their hands with soap after they visit the toilet and there is a need for behavior change, especially in Africa.
She also said the media has a major role in promoting the behavioral change of people through communication and urged that WASH issues should have a wider coverage.
Also speaking, the Programme Manager for Advocacy and Communications at the Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) Amanda Merlin said, 2.5 billion people lack access to improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) which are essential for health, welfare and Livelihoods.
According to her, the delay in achieving WASH goals poses huge challenges in both rural and urban areas, and that the lack of sanitation and drinking water supply presents economic and health-related problems for individuals and communities.
Madam Merlin said targets to be met by 2030 are the Elimination of Open Defecation and to achieve Universal Access to basic Drinking Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene for Households, Schools, and health facilities among others.
At the same time a media specialist in Benin (Tanko) said access to adequate sanitation in Africa is a challenge to especially rural areas and also said much needs to be done through advocacy.
He said most often women and children are marginalized, kidnapped and exposed to danger. He also wants Governments invest in water and sanitation.
He further said breaking the vicious cycle of low investment and weak sector performance is critical to make progress, stressing that journalists are responsible to remind their leaders about international commitments.
The Regional Training Workshop on Advocacy, Communications and Monitoring of WASH Commitments organized by WSSCC gathered 40 journalists and other stakeholders in Cotonou to place a spotlight on African commitments to water and sanitation.