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WORLD TOILET DAY 19 NOVEMBER 2019: LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND PDF Print E-mail

INCLUSIVE SANITATION POLICY: THE FUNDAMENTAL STEP TO LEAVING NO ONE BEHIND


By Kitch Bawa – Sanitation Project Manager

Not every day is World Toilet Day. But every day, everyone, everywhere needs a toilet. This simple tool has been described as one of the greatest public health inventions of all time. The impact of the absence or inadequacy of this public health invention, has been a source of catastrophic public health problems in many parts of the world, especially in Africa.

In the continent, about 760 million people lack this simple tool and 220 million people still practice open defecation. This is in a continent which has only a seventh of the world population. A big part of this huge number are the people within the lowest wealth quintiles. Others are from vulnerable groups cutting across the physically challenged, women, children, people behind bars, people in geographically hard to rich areas and other vulnerable groups. They often face many forms of discriminations and other barriers to access and management of sanitation services.


What can we do?

To ensure that this gap is filled, there are critical bottlenecks that need to be surmounted. Although the provision of the infrastructure for sanitation services is the primary duty of the individual, the responsibility for creating the enabling environment for effective sanitation service delivery rests with the primary duty bearer which is the government. Government creates the enabling environment for sanitation improvement by putting in place the necessary policy and institutional frameworks.

Access to toilets alone do not meet the criteria for the sustainable access to sanitation service. Access to sanitation service starts from the containment stage of the faecal matter to transport and safe reuse or disposal. Access to the toilet alone (containment) can become a hazard in the absence of the other services along the value chain of sanitation service delivery. Bearing in mind this challenge, the dialogue on the need for a toilet therefore goes beyond a toilet to the services along the value chain of sanitation service delivery. These are also at different service levels according to a ladder of the nature or level of sophistication of the service.

To ensure that sanitation services meet the needs of different groups of people at different quintiles, deliberate steps must be taken to ensure their participation in all processes. One key approach to do this is by consulting them in policy making process. This is based on the principle that the fundamental foundation on which service delivery is built is a strong policy.

Inclusive policy making involves a consultative process that looks at the peculiar needs of the different groups within the society. This often takes deliberate and intentional steps to meet the needs of these special groups who otherwise, may tend to be marginalized.

To strengthen policy for improved sanitation service delivery, AMCOW has taken steps to improve policy in some selected countries with special cases. In that trial, AMCOW directly facilitated the development of sanitation policy in 4 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Learning from this initial direct sanitation policy making initiative, and following the outcomes of the monitoring of high-level commitments (eThekwini in particular), AMCOW initiated the Africa Sanitation Policy Guidelines (ASPG). The ASPG development process is in collaboration with the World Health organization (WHO), Center for Water Security and Corporation (CSWC) and Speak Up Africa (SUA). This initiative will when fully in place, become the process where countries access the template for an inclusive sanitation policy and strategy and a guide for how developing the same. It will provide the minimum standard of the inclusive sanitation policy that will be needed at national and subnational levels to achieve the SDG 6.2. The ASPG will cover broadly the essential elements of a sanitation policy ranging from basic principles, funding and financing, capacity, regulation, institutional roles and responsibilities, monitoring, reporting and periodic reviews, hygiene mainly focusing on handwashing and Menstrual Hygiene Management. The ASPG development process will go through intensive consultations including different stakeholders at country level, including the High-level Ministerial dialogue. It will also involve consultation with different experts across the continent and globally to ensure that it takes into account the experiences from other regions. This is done to ensure it includes the voices from all groups and stakeholders for buy in and ownership. The ASPG development process plans to have a system for request and backstopping for countries to develop or update their sanitation policies.

It is hope that when this is completed and rolled out, it will lay out an enabling environment to accelerate the process for fast tracking progress to sustainable access to sanitation facilities including toilets for everyone, everywhere on the African continent. Especially for those who are left behind.

......................................................ENDS.......................................................................

Kitch Bawa is AMCOW Sanitation project manager and leads our work on sanitation in Africa. He tweets @keachbauer


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Message from AMCOW President on World Water Day 2019 PDF Print E-mail

Commemorating World Water Day 2019

Message from the AMCOW President

H.E. Norbert Emmanuel Ondo Mba,

Minister of Water, Energy and Mines, Republic of Gabon.

“Water for all” should be our top priority.

Water is life, and perhaps Africa’s greatest need at this moment.

Indeed, water is linked to every facet of everyday life – including food, energy, production of goods, health, sanitation and hygiene, security, among other human needs and rights.

Africa is the second driest continent on earth with only nine percent of globally available freshwater. About 66 percent of the continent is arid or semi-arid and 300 million of Africans live in water scarce environment, with less than 1,000m3 of water per capita and per year. In addition, and specifically in Sub-Saharan Africa, the continent suffers from chronically overburdened water systems that are under increasing pressure from fast-growing urbanization and growing economies exacerbated by the effects of climate change. The latter is experienced through changes in the hydrological cycle, such as overall water variability and frequency of extreme weather events such as floods and droughts.

Across the continent, both man-made and nature-induced disruptions or contamination of water supply continue to impact negatively on people’s health, economic development, peace and stability. The water crisis in Africa is compounded by weak governance systems, crumbling or non-existent infrastructure, poor management of resources, inadequate long-term investment and paucity of evidence-based data to inform decision-making. Improved water supply and improved water resources management are critical for countries’ sustainable economic growth and poverty eradication. This state of affairs points to a crisis and underscores why water must be a top priority on national, regional and continental development agendas.

Africa’s target is to ensure water for all by 2030. This is quite ambitious especially when considering that the population of Africa is predicted to reach 1.7 billion by 2030. To achieve the 2030 agenda on water, Africa will need to put water high on its development agenda. This will include effective monitoring and assessment of water resources, build adequate institutional and individual capacity for sustainable water resources management and development, and increase significantly investment in infrastructure development. Africa’s economies are vulnerable to water variability. Every year, African countries register losses of human lives, livestock and crops, infrastructure, valued at several billions of dollars. Climate change resilient infrastructure will help reduce risks due to floods and drought, ensure reliable and predictable water supply and spur economic growth. Moreover, Africa’s success in meeting the sustainable development goals on water and sanitation will require elimination of inequalities in access to water and sanitation services. African governments and stakeholders must commit to implementing urgent actions towards a more sustainable and resilient path that leaves no one behind.

‘Leaving no one behind’ means that the focus should be on the majority population who do not have equal access to water, that are often overlooked, or face discrimination, as they try to access and manage the water they need. It also calls for effective pro-poor policies and strategies to ensure that no one is left behind

A new paradigm is needed to address how the water sector is financed. Bridging the finance gap will require substantial increases in public investment and innovative financing approaches for the water sector as well as improving the efficiency of existing financial resources. There is also need to improve the enabling environment to create room for more effective stakeholder involvement and participation including attracting private sector investment. Introducing good water governance systems will provide the political, institutional and administrative rules, practices and processes for taking decisions and implementing them. More and better data are required for national, regional and global monitoring, to enable policymakers to identify disadvantaged groups and to tailor support to their specific needs and priorities. From a technical perspective, innovations and local adaptation of technology and sharing of knowledge can be supported through collaborative partnerships to improve all aspects of water resources and WASH management and service delivery.

While African countries have made some effort to undertake these actions, there is not enough progress to guarantee access to safe water to everyone by 2030. A lot more work needs to be done.

On this occasion to commemorate World Water Day 2019, the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) calls upon Member States to prioritize universal access to safe and affordable drinking water in their national development agendas. Particular focus should be placed on addressing the needs and rights to water for populations currently left behind, including vulnerable and marginalized communities.

AMCOW further calls for greater synergy through better collaboration among the diverse stakeholders in the water sector to harness the potential for sharing, accessing and adapting knowledge so as to generate new solutions.

For Africa to demonstrate its commitment to tackle the water crisis from the highest political levels, AMCOW urges the Africa Union Commission to urgently convene a summit of African Head of States and Governments to focus attention on how to accelerate the continent’s progress towards achieving water and water-related goals.

AMCOW further calls on the African Union to designate 2021 as the year for water and sanitation, as resolved in the 2018 Libreville Multi-stakeholders’ Declaration on Achieving Water Security and Safely Managed Sanitation for Africa.

 

 

 

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