Sub-Saharan African Leaders To Fix Sanitation and Water Issues

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Would you think that something so simple like having access to clean water and sanitation could help set you free? Having water and sanitation means a child is free of disease, a woman free of the back-breaking chore to fetch water, a girl free to attend school without fear, a village free of cholera, and a world of greater equality and dignity for all. The current water crisis has had a devastating impact on Sub-Saharan Africa's economy, development, and families. Sanitation and water are now recognised as essential in ending extreme poverty. The challenge is to reach the poorest and most excluded, ensuring that everyone's right to water and sanitation is met in this current lifetime.

Rising to this challenge, taking action and making a strong commitment are a group of Sub-Saharan African leaders who have pledged to work harder to reach 325 million people on the continent without safe water and 644 million without basic toilets. Around 20 countries, including 14 from Sub-Saharan Africa, have promised to provide people with access to safe water, basic toilets and hygiene by 2030. Sixteen Sub-Saharan African leaders have promised to eliminate open defecation in their countries by 2030; another ten Sub-Saharan African governments made separate commitments towards universal access.

In total, government ministers from 44 developing countries have made 265 commitments to increase access to water and sanitation, including promises to address massive inequalities in access, including between urban and rural residents, rich and poor, and among ethnic groups and regions. These pledges came as representatives of more than 50 governments gathered in Washington, DC in April for the ‘Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting’, which was opened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

WaterAid, a founding partner in the ‘Sanitation and Water for All,’ believes what is now crucial is the action needed to make these promises happen. One thousand children in Sub-Saharan Africa die every day from this health crisis. Former Ghanaian President John Kufuor, chair of the Sanitation and Water for All partnership, told participants that he would hold them to their promises and make them accountable for the results that will benefit the poorest and most vulnerable people.

New figures from the World Health Organisation and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme on Water Supply and Sanitation show the massive and growing inequalities in access to safe water and toilets around the world: 748 million globally without safe water and 2.5 billion without proper sanitation. In Sub-Saharan Africa, there remain 325 million without safe water and 644 million without basic sanitation. Of the 1 billion people around the world still practicing open defecation, 227 million are in Sub-Saharan Africa; nine in ten of them live in rural areas. These pledges from African governments are a big step towards realising a healthier and more prosperous future for the continent.

Photo Credit: WaterAid/ Behailu Shiferaw