Dear Decision Makers, What the Heck Are You Doing About Sanitation?

West African countries lose on average of 4.3% of their GDP each year due to sanitation problems.
26 October 2020
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Niyel (Dakar)

Yes, I know you'll say it's easy to always blame everything on our beloved decision-makers... It's true that for all the woes we've been through!

However, on this subject specifically, there is no way around it. They are the prime culprits.

All specialists agree that sanitation has long suffered from a lack of political will.

This is reflected in the state of our dirty streets in the rainy season, when all this dirty, dubiously colored, foul-smelling, disease-infested water floods our streets.

Every year, we witness the same show, the same complaints, the same commitments, and the same blah blah blah ....

But... Nothing's done!
Why? What do our beloved decision-makers need to do to TAKE ACTION? There is definitely a reason for alerting them.

For example, West African countries lose on average of 4.3% of their GDP each year due to sanitation problems. This represents XOF 547 billion for Senegal, XOF 640 million for Burkina Faso or XOF 1027 billion for Cote d'Ivoire in 2019 and, these losses are only due to premature death, health expenses and lost productivity. The biggest obstacle to sanitation is undoubtedly an institutional one, and our esteemed decision-makers must dedicate their efforts to addressing it and making it a priority.

How? It's not very complicated. Let me explain.

First, laws and regulations must be designed and passed, or implemented where they already exist, to organize the sanitation sector through the construction and installation of equipment, the treatment of fecal sludge, its reuse, etc.

Secondly, it has to be said that our decision-makers cannot do it alone because there is so much to be done. Therefore, they should involve key sanitation stakeholders from various sectors to promote synergies and join forces. These include emptiers, technical experts, actors in the private sector, education, health, agriculture, and the environment.

Thirdly, to avoid exposure to poop, it is necessary to ensure access to basic sanitation services in households and public institutions, and to securely manage the entire sanitation value chain (collection, transportation, treatment, and reuse). To this end, it is necessary to allocate a larger budget to contribute to the pro- per equipment of households and to create more treatment plants to manage the poop collected.

Finally, it should be emphasized that there is still much to hope for. This is not a lost cause since, in recent years, many African governments have become aware of the need to develop sanitation to improve health, living conditions and productivity. So, let's keep hoping!

Now that you know, what are you going to do about it? Do not just stand there! Start by opening your eyes. Make decision-makers and/or civil society organizations aware of the situation in your neighborhood or the difficulties you are experiencing related to sanitation.

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