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CSOs call on African Governments to implement the Right to Water and Sanitation

Babatope Babalobi in Kigali, Rwanda
Representatives of civil society organizations in Africa have called on National Governments to urgently implement the Human Right to Water and Sanitation.
Rising from a one day Civil Society Forum in Kigali, Rwanda as part of the on going Africa Sanitation and Hygiene Conference 3 (Africasan3), the civil society organizations organized under platform of the  African Civil Society Network for Water and Sanitation (ANEW)  also called for a clear timetable and measureable targets for achieving expenditure of 0.5% of GDP on sanitation (as per the eThekwini Declaration); separate budget lines for sanitation spending in national budgets;  and better targeting of resources towards countries with low sanitation coverage and a higher burden of sanitation related diseases.
“More than 584 million people in Africa do not have an improved sanitation facility, and of those, 231 million practise open defecation An outrageous 2.1 million children under the age of five have died from diarrhoea caused by poor water, sanitation and hygiene since the last AfricaSan just three years ago”, said the ANEW.
Also noting that “more than 584 million people in Africa do not have an improved sanitation facility, and of those, 231 million practise open defecation”, the ANEW  called on  “Governments and development partners must demonstrate strong leadership by publically championing sanitation as fundamental to development, and drive forward national and local sanitation plans”.

Sanitation is the most off-track target of the Millennium Development Goals, and will not be met
in Sub-Saharan Africa for a further two centuries; this undermines progress against the health, education, gender and poverty MDGs, said the ANEW.
The body there therefore suggested three strategies to redress this trend:
·         Planning must involve marginalized people, such as urban slum dwellers, women, disabled and the elderly as well as hard to reach areas, to ensure programmes are truly effective and responsive to their needs.
·         Mechanisms for inter-sectoral coordination between key ministries, the private sector and civil society at national and local levels must be established and strengthened for effective planning and delivery.
·         Governments and development partners must support the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) partnership to ensure high-level coordination of funds, decision makers and civil society.

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