November 19th 2013. “This is a time for Africa to rethink and intensify efforts on the charted road maps toward improving access to sanitation in the continent.” So says Bai Mas Taal, Executive Secretary of the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) to mark the World Toilet Day.
The United Nations General Assembly in July 2013 had designated November 19th 2013 as World Toilet Day as part of efforts to advance the human family through improved sanitation. About 2.5 billion people across the world face indignity, inconvenience, insecurity and discomfort due to lack of access to an improved sanitation. They also have to grapple with strong health and financial implications that come with the problem. Of this number, over 600 million live in Sub Saharan Africa.
According to Bai Mass Taal, Africa is not only off track to meet the MDGs for sanitation, at the rate the continent is going, it may only attain universal access to sanitation and hygiene 300 years from now. “AMCOW wants to inspire the spirit of cooperation and communality which lives in the hearts of all Africans, to look at what we as a people can do to improve the situation. Let us do this bearing in mind that we are fighting poverty and we are saving lives. Let the civil society, academia, the private sector and all of us, led by government join hands to work together to save lives, restore dignity and improve livelihoods of our people.”
The AMCOW Executive Secretary is however optimistic that report from a recently concluded review of progress on eThekwini commitments on improving sanitation in the continent indicates that Africa has made significant progress in the areas of policy and strategy development. Significant headway has also been recorded in approaches adopted for improving access to sanitation in several countries in the continent. On the other hand, identified common low-score denominators hindering progress in the sector include financing, capacity, monitoring and evaluation, and coordination.
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