The water projects launched in the various regions over the past days each worth US$8M is remarkable. The project funded by the Africa Development Bank (ADB) seeks to enhance the already expanding rural water and sanitation programme initiated by the government of The Gambia.
The project if judiciously operationalised, would consolidate the gains made by the country in the accomplishment of the Millennium Development Goals 6 target of universal access to clean water and sanitation.
The worth of the projects cannot be over-emphasised. It is common knowledge that water is necessary for the survival of living things. In fact, dehydration - the lack of water - will kill an organism faster than starvation - the lack of food. Since the plants and animals that many humans and other animals eat also depend on water, lack of it could lead to starvation as well as dehydration.
In addition to sustaining life, clean freshwater is needed by humans for personal hygiene, irrigation, industry, and recreation. Humans bath with it, brush their teeth with it, use it to make crops grow and to cool industrial reactors, as well as swim, boat, and fish in. This is why the improvement of water and sanitation for all is among the top priorities of the Gambian government.
The consolidation of this rural water project which seeks to develop capacity to provide safe drinking water and to address the unhygienic handling of drinking water as well as poor personal hygiene and sanitation practices in rural areas, with a view to reduce water and sanitation related-deaths, which account for 20 percent of mortality of children under five, especially in rural areas, illuminates this reality.
Suffice to say, clean water supply and sanitation is crucial in the realisation of any country's development goals and poverty reduction strategies, of which The Gambia is no exception. Clean drinking water supply helps in reducing health care cost as a result of the minimisation of water-borne diseases. This in turn will help in reducing the stress on the country's national budget, thus redirecting some of the health care budgetary allocations into other development agendas.
We therefore applaud the donors and hope that the projects would be implemented as plan ned so that the water and sanitation needs of the rural people would be met.