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2016 World Toilet Day: AMCOW ties Africa’s growth to sanitation access PDF Print E-mail

 

Convinced of the strong link between economic growth and increased access to sanitation and safe water, the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) has called on stakeholders from within and outside the continent to support ongoing initiatives aimed at unlocking Africa’s growth potential via increased access to sanitation and hygiene. AMCOW’s Executive Secretary, Dr. Canisius Kanangire made this known in a message to commemorate the 2016 World Toilet Day.

With about 2.4 billion people around the world living without toilet facilities and about 600 million Africans living at the mercy of diseases due to inadequate access to sanitation and unsafe water, Dr. Kanangire believes that this year’s theme of “toilets and jobs” underscores the urgent need to provide jobs for Africa’s teeming youth population.

"Poor sanitation and unsafe water in our homes and offices lead to poor health, exhaustion, decreased productivity, and loss of livelihoods but opportunities exist to turn around this situation for better through significant investments in appropriate toilets and sanitation projects." Dr. Kanangire added.

Calling for significant increase in the allocation of financial and technical resources for sanitation and hygiene in Africa in line with the N’gor commitments, the AMCOW Executive Secretary advocated leadership strengthening of sanitation institutions in cities and communities through support of locally appropriate technology solutions and financing across the entire sanitation value chain for households and institutions.

This according to him, could go a long way in reversing the migration trend while keeping restive youths gainfully engaged.

It will be recalled that than two billion people defecate in the open due to lack of proper toilet facilities. According to the United Nations, the provision of proper toilets could save the lives of more than 200,000 children each year. Countries where open defecation is most widely practiced are the same countries with the highest numbers of under-five child deaths, high levels of under-nutrition and poverty, and large wealth disparities.

In the municipal areas of Dar es Salaam and rural communities around the city to the N’gor coastal parts of Dakar there are diverse needs for sanitation goods and services. From Cairo to Cape Town, Lagos to Lubumbashi, sanitation challenges are essentially similar. These diverse needs and challenges present a very good opportunity for employment creation and income generation.

According to a report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), “toilets play a crucial role in creating a strong economy as 17 per cent of workplace deaths are caused by disease transmission – an incentive to invest in access to proper sanitation in order to avoid the approximately $260 billion that is lost every year due to poor sanitation and unsafe water.”

To the UN Secretary General, “every dollar invested in water and sanitation leads to $4 in economic returns.”

World Toilet Day (WTD) is a campaign to motivate and mobilize millions around the world on issues of sanitation. Originally established by the World Toilet Organization in 2001, this day to draw attention to global sanitation issues is marked each year on 19 November.  Since 2001, World Toilet Day has grown in scope and recognition by global partners. In 2013, the United Nations (UN) passed a resolution recognizing WTD as an official UN international day.

 
Africa mulls tourism certification framework to manage water and waste PDF Print E-mail

Experts at the ongoing climate talks in Marrakech have advocated the development and adoption of a policy and strategic framework that support expansion and mainstreaming of sustainable tourism certification in Africa.

Speaking at a side event in the Africa pavilion on the second day of the COP22 climate conference, water and tourism experts were unanimous in their view that African states should encourage and incentivise green certification of tourism, specifically in relation to monitoring and reducing water and waste.

This, according to them, will set the stage for existing African and International certification programs to have adequate criteria, and established processes and systems for working with the hotel sector to assess and monitor their waste and water management systems.

In addition to other environmental, social and socio-economic components of sustainable tourism, the framework will provide a mechanism to recognise that certification standards use a common and comprehensive approach to sustainability as well as summarise existing monitoring data being gathered by national tourism authorities and international/regional certification bodies specifically relating to the accommodation sector in Africa.

According to Dr. Anna Spenceley, a consultant with the African Development Bank (AfDB), African states can integrate sustainability criteria into their hotel quality-rating programs as a way of supporting Sustainable Development Goal 12 which places emphasis on responsible consumption and production, and also contribute to the objectives of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Tourism.

Jean Michel Ossete, the Coordinator of the African Water Facility, jointly sponsored by the AfDB and the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) believes that the AfDB could support member states to raise awareness on the benefits of sustainable tourism certification in Africa particularly those with currently low levels of certification, improve linkages between established certification programs and member states, where there the program is aligned with the country’s objectives, and providing guidance on the design and implementation of incentives to promote improved waste and water management.

Recognising that sustainable tourism certification provides an independent mechanism for evaluating and measuring water and waste management in African hotels, Oseloka Zikora of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) advocated support for the development of national waste and water management capacity, to ensure that countries are able and willing to establish and enabling policy framework for good practices, and that hotels can implement them.

“This should be done by providing technical advice and mentoring to governments on how they can promote better water and waste management and certification in the hotel sector through congruent policies, including through incentives, commissioning and sharing research findings on the financial and non-financial benefits of certification, and of good waste and water management practices, that provides clear quantification of the benefits that can be understood by decision makers,” Zikora added.

He further recommended the adoption of a train-the-trainers approach to making the outreach cost effective and locally relevant, as well as establish an online resource library containing tools on waste and water management, training guides and case study examples.

The experts also agreed on the need to develop external coordination and cooperation mechanisms to ensure good communication, linkages and compatible approaches.

Strategic partners identified for this include multi-laterals such as the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), bi-lateral organisations such as GiZ, and NGOs like the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, the Travel Foundation and International Tourism Partnership, and also networks such as the Sustainable Tourism Certification Alliance Africa.

Collectively, the African and international certification programs have certified at least 715 accommodation facilities in 19 African countries, against their environmental, social and economic criteria.

Though the total actual number of hotels in Africa is not known, Booking.com lists 20,844 hotels in 51 of Africa’s 52 countries. It therefore implies that the number of hotels that are monitoring their waste and water consumption, and taking efforts to improve their practices, are a tiny proportion of the number of accommodation facilities on the continent.

 

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