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Tech, research and development can help solve Africa’s water and sanitation crisis

Tech, research and development can help solve Africa’s water and sanitation crisis

All over Africa, women walking long distance to fetch water, and people defecating in the bush and make-shift toilets are a common sight.

The African continent has been facing water and sanitation crisis for decades, as ‘corrupt’ and ‘careless’ governments have run out of ideas and breath to move the sector forward.

Unsustainable, obsolete technologies and approaches is one of the leading causes of this crisis, experts said last week, urging governments to take steps to own and invest in research and development of approaches and technologies.

This has emerged at the High Level Forum on water and sanitation hosted by Water and Sanitation for Africa (WSA) on 21-23 November 2013 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

The forum recommended improvement in policies that tend 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.

The meeting also decried the over-reliance of most African countries on charity and aid for water and sanitation sector development.

This, it said, results mostly in piecemeal approaches that insignificantly impact on the lives of intended beneficiaries.

Therefore, the forum called on 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 in a statement.

The water and sanitation picture in many African countries looks bleak, and with almost two years before the finish line of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there are fears that the continent is headed to a general catastrophe comes December 2015.

More than 300 million people in Africa have no access to safe drinking water, while over 650 million people have no proper toilets, statistics say.

Photo: State.gov

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