210 million more Africans lack access to sanitation than in 1990 | Source: WaterAid-Feb 18, 2013
African Governments are failing to keep their funding promises on sanitation, a new WaterAid report has revealed. The report warns that unless investment is increased, the challenges of urbanisation, climate change and most critically population growth risk turning the clock back on sanitation access even further(1).
Kroo Bay slum in Freetown, Sierra Leone, 2012, during the worst cholera outbreak in nearly 15 years. Credit: Tommy Trenchard
From 1990 to 2010, the population of Sub-Saharan Africa grew by 340 million, however only 130 million people secured access to sanitation over the same period(2). In total nearly 600 million Sub-Saharan Africans – 70% of the population – are without access to a safe toilet(3).
The Keeping promises: why African leaders need now to deliver on their past water and sanitation commitments report uses official Government figures from five African Governments – Ghana, Niger, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Uganda – to show that funding on sanitation is falling short of government commitments across the continent.
INDER, 23 February 2011 (IRIN) – Candid talk about human excrement is making people in rural Niger, where only 2 percent of the population has adequate sanitation, insist on building and using toilets: A project there is showing people from scores of villages the dangers of open defecation.
“We put barely a speck of human waste [from the ground on the outskirts of the village] in a cup of water and ask assembled villagers who would care to drink it – no takers, of course,” Souleymane Atawaten, water and sanitation coordinator with Plan Niger, told IRIN. He and his colleagues demonstrated how flies swarm around human waste and food. “People quickly realize the danger – the link between their waste and illness.”
Plan Niger is one of several NGOs working with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and government health workers on community-led total sanitation (CLTS). Niger is one of the latest countries in West Africa where the approach is being used, according to Jane Bevan, water, sanitation and hygiene specialist with UNICEF’s West and Central Africa regional office.
This month Sierra Leone – where CLTS began in 2007 – announced its 1,000th open-defecation-free village.
Most West and Central African countries are not likely to meet Millennium Development Goal sanitation targets, according to UNICEF. Child mortality rates are among the highest in the world, with diarrhoea estimated to cause up to 20 percent of these deaths.
But practices that contribute to this can change, Bevan told IRIN. “Once people get [that they are regularly coming into contact with excrement], it’s transformative. The disgust over essentially eating one another’s faeces is universal. Very quickly the people agree they do not want to be doing so… and they see that they all have a responsibility.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has awarded a grant to CREPA and SEI to manage a project entitled “Testing a nutrient recycling system (Productive Sanitation Systems) in Niger with a view to measuring its potential for improving agricultural productivity”.
In the context of the soaring world fertilizer prices, the ca. billion poor smallholder farmers in the world have to use alternative solutions to produce affordable nutrients which can sustain agricultural food production. A new paradigm in agriculture is in the making linking it to sanitation systems using e.g. urine source-separation, collection and reuse as a chemical fertilizer. IFAD has the interest to test this Productive Sanitation System (PSS) to improve the situation for poor smallholder farmers by providing access to safe human-generated fertilizer for crops.
This pilot project will be integrated into the PPILDA project in the Maradi region (South Niger) to address specifically the improvement of low soil fertility in optimizing nutrient reuse (with hygienised urine). It will test whether Productive Sanitation Systems are accepted by the local population and if it provides an increase in food production, nutrition, income and health in the pilot communities. A comparative analysis with commercial chemical fertilizers will be carried out. The work is based on similar previous successful projects in Africa by CREPA and SEI.
Contact: Laurent Stravato, IFAD ; Anselme Vodhounessi CREPA ; Arno Rosemarin, SEI