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Africa’s water and sanitation crisis: the struggle continues

More than half of African countries have failed to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on water and sanitation by December 2015, and the struggle continues for over 300 million Africans who have no access to safe drinking water, and another 650 million lacking proper toilets.

Africa has a population of about 1.1 billion.

The sight of women walking long distance to fetch water and people defecating in the bush and in make-shift toilets is common across African cities and villages.

The African continent has been facing water and sanitation crisis for decades, as ‘corrupt’ governments’ inadequate policies failed to lift the sector, and in the process depriving millions of safe drinking water and adequate toilets.

On top of corruption and lack of accountability, some experts have also blamed unsustainable, obsolete technologies and approaches for the worsening of the crisis. African governments are therefore urged to take steps to own and invest in research and development of approaches and technologies.

Water and Sanitation for Africa (WSA) experts have recommended an improvement in policies that tended to limit private participation in sanitation and water provision, and also in public coordination, enforcement of standards and adherence to national systems such that the poor is not denied access.

WSA experts also continue to decry the over-reliance of most African countries on charity and aid for water and sanitation sector development.This, they say, results mostly in piecemeal approaches that insignificantly impact on the lives of intended beneficiaries.

The Ouagadougou-based non-profit organisation urged governments to devote more efforts to exploring innovative sources of finance, even if of a commercial nature that can support the implementation of large scale projects to provide quality services.

“Look beyond piecemeal approaches and explore more innovative and financially sustainable approaches, including private participation and business models,” WSA said.

WSA is a non-profit organisation that provides continental leadership in the development of innovative and sustainable approaches, evidence-based policy advice, and advocacy services in the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene services in Africa.

Photo: the sight of women walking long distances to fetch water is common across Africa. Lucian Coman, Shutterstock.com

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