By: WASH R&E Network-Liberia – The international organisation WaterAid has called on governments meeting in Cairo for Africa Water Week (13th to 19th May) to commit to bringing water and sanitation services to 100 million more Africans over the next two years.
In sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 600 million people lack access to adequate sanitation, while 335 million people lack access to clean, safe water.
Over three quarters of a million children in Africa die every year due to diarrhoeal diseases caused, in the vast majority of cases, by a lack of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.
Mr. Nelson Gomonda, WaterAid’s Pan-Africa Programme Manager stated: “African governments risk their credibility if they do not seize the opportunity to tackle this crisis by significantly increasing access to water and sanitation in their countries.
With thousands of African children dying every day, governments should honour previous promises to increase their spending on sanitation.”
Commitments previously made by African government include those made most recently by 30 African nations at the Sanitation and Water for All meeting in April in Washington DC, plus the 2007 eThekwini Declaration (where governments agreed to budget 0.5% of their GDP on sanitation), and Sharm El-Sheikh in 2008 (on accelerating water and sanitation goals).
A release quotes WaterAid as saying, only one African government, Sao Taome and Principe, currently has met the eThekwini Declaration target.
Mr. Apollos Nwafor, WaterAid’s Team Leader for Liberia and Sierra Leone also said: “At current rates of progress, Africans will be waiting 160 years before everyone has safe drinking water and 350 years for access to sanitation. We must find ways of doing better and increase the rates at which these essential services are being provided to people. Waiting centuries for water and sanitation is simply unacceptable.”
African Water Week in Cairo from 14 May 2012 brings together policy makers from across Africa. WaterAid will be the core convenor for the sub-theme of ‘Meeting water and sanitation targets’ and is also supporting Africa Water Week as an opportunity for sharing valuable skills, experiences, and best practice around achieving access to water and sanitation for all.
WaterAid is calling for African Governments to act to provide safe drinking water to 42.8 million people and adequate sanitation to 59.9 million over the next two years.
WaterAid successfully pushed for similar targets on increasing access to these essential services at the High Level Meeting of the Sanitation and Water for All partnership in Washington D.C. in April. Nearly 30 African Countries and many other governments from around the globe agreed to strive to implement baseline commitments to increase access to water by 5% and sanitation by 7% in their countries over the next two years.
Despite global progress, sub-Saharan Africa is not due to meet its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target on water until 2032 (17 years too late) and not due to reach universal access until 2075. The region is not due to reach its sanitation MDG by 2175 (160 years too late) and not due to reach universal access until 2360.
The United Nations Development Programme estimates that the shortfall in water and sanitation services cost sub-Saharan African countries around 5% of gross domestic product (GDP) each year ($55.6 billion in 2010), more than the amount provided in development aid to the entire continent ($47.9 billion in 2010).