The second Eastern Africa Regional Sanitation Conference and Learning Forum opened in Kampala, Uganda, 2 March 2010, with calls for a more cohesive effort towards achieving regional and global sanitation targets.
In a key-note speech at the opening of the three-three day conference, Uganda’s Minister of Water and Environment, Hon. Maria Mutagamba, said a large proportion of the population in Africa still faces sanitation challenges only five years to the deadline for meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets.
The Conference, which was organised by the African Civil Society Network on Water and Sanitation (ANEW) and its partners under the theme, Tracking Progress on the AfricaSan+5 Action Plan and other International Commitments, will provide a forum for countries within the Eastern Africa region to share progress and experiences on the implementation of the eThekwini declaration, Sharm el Sheikh and the declaration and commitments of the first East Africa Conference.
The eThekwini Action Plan, which was agreed upon during the second African Conference on Sanitation and Hygiene in Durban, South Africa, articulates the critical actions to be further developed, funded and monitored by 2010 in order to put Africa ‘back on track’ to meet the sanitation MDGs.
Noting that only 37 percent of the 800 million people in Africa have access to adequate sanitation, Ms Mutagamba said there is a critical need for sector partners to focus their most critical activities towards addressing the urgent priorities at hand.
“The deadline for meeting the MDGs is fast approaching. The challenge that we face is how to take these innovations and experiences to a scale that is adequate and sustainable in order to respond to the African sanitation crisis,” she said.
Uganda’s Minister of Water and Environment, Hon. Maria Mutagamba. Photo: ANEW
“We need to place local authorities, now primarily responsible for sanitation in many countries in Africa, in the driver’s seat. However, adequate resources need to be transferred, capacity has to be strengthened and awareness has to be raised,” urged Ms Mutagamba.
The Executive Secretary of ANEW, Ms Jamillah Mwanjisi, noted that while the civil society organisations, donors and the various governments have over time come together to map out ways of addressing sanitation challenges, similar effort had not been put in the implementation of these plans.
The Conference has drawn participants from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan, and will comprise of state, non-state and donor agencies in the water and sanitation sector.
The conference will produce a regional monitoring report detailing progress and recommendations on action taken and those still required for Eastern Africa countries on the various commitments on sanitation. It will also agree on key recommendations for the next international meetings, especially the African San meeting.
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Source: ANEW, 02 Mar 2010