Monday, December 01, 2008

Eastern Africa needs more investment in sanitation

A conference on sanitation is taking place in Eastern Africa, and a report issued at the conference says that more investment is needed. Without the investment, Sub-Saharan Africa will fall well short of meeting the Millennium Development Goal on sanitation.

As All Africa's own Hellen Mwihoreze reports, the environment is hurt in the area as a lot of waste water is dumped without treatment.

Poor sanitation is undermining all development efforts in Eastern Africa and constraining progress against the health, education, gender and poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and yet the potential for realizing significant public health gains in the world's poorest countries is huge.

A survey by the international organization Water Aid shows that over 70% of the population in Eastern Africa do not have access to adequate sanitation, and more than 200,000 children are dying each year from diarrhea due to lack of adequate sanitation.

This was revealed during the Eastern Africa conference on sanitation held in Nairobi recently, to review progress on implementing the commitments made under the "e Thekwini Declaration" signed by African ministers in Durban, South Africa, on February 20. 2008.

Oliver Cumming, the Water Aid policy officer, said that the international development community must respond to the development needs of the poor. "How can governments overlook an issue that contributes to the deaths of millions and millions of children every year?" Cumming asked.

In 2002 sanitation was added to the list of MDGs (Millennium development goals), aiming to solve half of the problem by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to basic sanitation, which comprises access to safe drinking water, estimated by the percentage of the population using improved drinking water sources; and access to sanitary means of excreta disposal, estimated by the percentage of the population using improved sanitation facilities (those more likely to ensure privacy and hygienic use).

Five years on, however, the sanitation MDG is badly off track; at the current rate of progress, it will not be met in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the Water Aid survey, in Sub-Saharan Africa 221,000,000 people are practicing open defecation, and 546,000,000 people lack adequate sanitation.

Poor sanitation kills more children than HIV/Aids, malaria and measles combined yet it remains neglected. Most donor and aid-receiving governments don't even know how much they're spending on the sector, it was noted during the conference.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


My name is Abdoul and I am working at Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders in London. I would like to get in touch as we launch a campaign of appeal to Zimbabwe.

Indeed cholera has spread all over the country now and Zimbabwe is experiencing an unprecedented outbreak. The situation is even worse for the lack of sanitation and water. There are also concerns with the start of the rainy season and the shortage of drugs.

We obviously want to spread this message as far as we can and I know that for this particular place, mainstream media isn't necessarily the place to do that and that the online communities who care about the situation is big and very active. I was basically wondering if you would like to cover this issue on your blog.You can get more information about our involvement in Zimbabwe at

I apologise for contacting you out of the blue - I found you through various online networks and through your blog itself and I have only contacted you because I thought you might be genuinely interested in this topic.

Thanks for taking the time to read this far