26 February 2019

Africa Poised to Tackle Hygiene and Sanitation

Photo: B Dabo/AllAfrica
Mayor of Dakar Soham El Wardini,

Cape Town — The 2019 African Conference on Sanitation took place at in Cape Town, South Africa, from February 20 to 22 Up for discussion? The role of local authorities as key actors in aiding the continent achieve its goal of Sanitation for All by 2030. allAfrica's Michael Tantoh was there and spoke with several key actors...

Access to adequate sanitation proves to be a significant challenge faced by Africa. About 47 countries cross the continent have achieved less than 50% coverage with basic sanitation services, according to the African Ministerial Conference on Water (AMCOW). On average, they say, half of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa does not use proper sanitation facilities.

This situation, according to Dr. Canisius Kanangire, Executive Secretary of AMCOW, is likely to get worse as several African cities "do not have a sanitation plan".

AMCOW believes that for this situation to be reversed, the involvement of local authorities will be vital considering that the problem of water and sanitation is primarily a local problem, Sylvain Usher, executive director of African Water Association (AFWA) said.

Given the importance and urgency, the first Mayors' Forum on Water and Sanitation was launched with the support of the African Ministers' Council on in Bamako in 2018. At a side event on international conference on sludge management (FSM5 / AfricaSan 5) held in Cape Town, the 2019 Local Authorities Engagement Forum on Water And Sanitation evaluated the progress made since Bamako 2018, identifying challenges and to chart a way forward with the goal of providing sanitation for all by 2030. The session was also aimed at re-energizing and renewing commitment made in Bamako to foster equality for all in this domain and to accelerate reforms policies geared towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 6.2 (SDG) for water and sanitation by 2030.

Local elected representatives from Dakar (Senegal), Kampala (Uganda), Tagandougou (Mali), Durban and eThekwini (South Africa), Plateau (Congo Brazzaville), among others, were among the participants. The noted that despite some achievements since  Bamako progress remains slow.

The conference called on local elected representatives to transform these commitments into concrete actions if they want to improve the sanitation conditions of their communities."our municipalities have a responsibility to change this situation situation that Africa is facing with regard to sanitation" Kanangire said. According to the Mayor of Dakar, Soham El Wardini, the continent needs an appropriate legal framework to allow local elected representatives to play a better role.  El Wardini cited the case of Senegal where hygiene and sanitation is no longer competence of local authorities since the entry into force of the latest reform on decentralization more specifically Article 3.

It now puts the municipality she manages in an awkward situation in the face of the many demands of the poor who suffer the consequences of a dilapidated and defective sanitation system. Nompumelelo Sithole, technical advisor to the eThekwini mayor, drew the attention of AMCOW to the urgency of working towards a harmonized regulatory framework that will give opportunities to all African municipalities. She also called for the strengthening hygiene education in the community and called reflection on ecological solutions to be undertaken with the collaboration of universities, private sector, NGOs. This according to her will enable them to play their part in the resolution of the problems of hygiene and sanitation. Brian Arbogast, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, called on municipalities to become more visible leaders in achieving more inclusive sanitation.

Despite these challenges, achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6.2) local elected representatives is not impossible. Local elected officials must consider equitable municipal sanitation policies that take into account gender issues. This, through a strategic urban the municipality plan that takes into account collective and autonomous sanitation throughout the value chain. To achieve this, the municipalities must create a management unit responsible for sanitation issues.This will lead to good sanitation planning. The first step should be to assess the current situation in the sector at the municipal level, taking into account collective and non-collective sanitation, land allocation for the treatment of sludge and urban policies or policies that regulate the integrated value chain of non-collective sanitation.

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