The minister of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters, Lamin Kabba Bajo, Tuesday presided over the official opening of a day's validation workshop of the assessment report on water supply and sanitation sectors of The Gambia, held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi.
The report was prepared under the Department of Water Resources, through The Gambia government with funding from the African Development Bank (ADB). It is aimed at identifying successes and challenges in delivering sanitation and water supply services. The report is part of a continent-wide assessment requested by the African Ministerial Conference on Water (AMCOW).
In his opening statement, Minister Bajo pointed out that water and sanitation constitute important pillars in the agenda of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He however observed that even though The Gambia has made significant progress in improving access to safe drinking water and sanitation, the area of socio-economic development poses a major challenge to governments in the developing countries.
Minister Bajo further disclosed that The Gambia is on track in meeting the MDGs target for water supply, going by the multiple indicator cluster survey 2006, which shows a national coverage of 85% to 95% urban and 81% rural as reference. Despite the achievements in the country's water and sanitation sectors, Minister Bajo said, the sub-sectors continue to be faced with a number of challenges that require urgent attention to consolidate and build on gains, which should include the formulation of strategy and the establishment of a mechanism for coordinating interventions in the sector.
He thanked the African Development Bank (ADB) for its support through the preparatory process and assured of The Gambia governmentÂ's unreserved commitment to collaborate with the Bank. Collins Annoh, a representative of ADB, spoke about the active role of his institution in the economic and social development of The Gambia in the last 40 years. "In collaboration with the government of The Gambia and other development partners," he added, Â"ADB has supported investment in the countryÂ's agriculture, infrastructure, environment and education sectors".
He further told the gathering that since the 1980s, the bank has provided finance amounting to about 37 million Euros to The Gambia to support development and improvements in the water and sanitation sectors. "The Gambia Country Status Overview (CSO), for which this meeting is being organised seeks to capture among other things, current data on recent sector developments and efforts towards achieving national or MDG targets by 2015," he said.
He finally informed the gathering that it is ADB's hope that at the end of the meeting, participants will reach consensus on actions that are needed to overcome the bottlenecks identified in the report.