African Ministers argue for priority attention to sanitation, Hygiene

By Henry neondo in Stockholm

Ministers responsible for water in Ethiopia, Lesotho and Uganda attending World Water Week in Stockholm have called for more priority and resources towards sanitation and hygiene, which are often overlooked in the national poverty reduction strategy plans of developing countries.

At a press briefing in the Swedish capital city yesterday, African Water Ministers and the Chair of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), Mr. Roberto L. Lenton, highlighted the need to allocate budgets for the two elements in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) trinity that many developing country governments tend to neglect, more than water, in their planning and budgeting processes.

“In Ethiopia, sanitation was previously ignored,” but after the integration of the community-based WASH and health care programmes for communities, the coverage vastly improved,” according to the Hon. Mr. Shiferaw Jarso, Minister of Water Resources of Ethiopia.

“Last year alone, the country’s access to water supply and sanitation increased by 8 per cent and 10 per cent respectively, through community interventions and scaling-up the involvement of communities, NGOs and donors,” he said.

Maria Mutagamba of Uganda's Minister of State for Water and President of the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) urged other leaders, to “… be at the forefront of this initiative that includes a group of women Ministers who serve as WASH champions and raise key issues of gender, the role of women in decision-making, capacity building and educating children about sanitation and hygiene.

According to WHO and UNICEF, less than 400 people in a typical African village of 1,000 have access to a latrine.

On a given day, more than 20 of these villages, of whom three quarters are children under five years old, suffer from diarrhea and other water-borne diseases.

Diarrhoea resulting from poor sanitation and hygiene is responsible for the death of more than two million children each year.

The sanitation situation adversely affects children’s education and erodes the productive capabilities of adults. Girls and women are the most affected. Another new initiative

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