By Ralph Mweninguwe in Dakar, Senegal
The road from eThekwini, in South Africa, to Ngor, in Senegal, has been a very rough and bumpy one in as far as improving access to billions of people in Africa is concerned, experts admit.
The eThekwini Declaration was created in 2008, when African Ministers and experts met to commit to improving the sanitation and hygiene in Africa. Since then, little progress has been done.
During the Opening Plenary of the 4th African Conference on Sanitation and Hygiene on Tuesday, Senegalese President Macky Sall said that the road from eThekwini has not been in vain. He pointed out that some achievements have been made, but the journey remains bumpy.
President Sall also explained that “as Africa now changes its road map from eThekwini to Ngor, I don‘t think we will miss another opportunity to have our people fail to have access to improved sanitation.”
“As we come up with a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, Africa can no longer afford to miss the goals by 2030,” he said during his inaugural address.
The eThekwini Declaration includes a number of commitments such as bringing the messages and outcomes made at AfricaSan 2008 to the attention of the African Union as well as establishing, reviewing, updating and adopting national sanitation and hygiene policies. There were a number of further commitments made, including the financing and monitoring of progress of the commitments.
Unfortunately, the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector is the least funded of all the sectors in a majority of governments in Africa. This explains why the eThekwini Declaration has failed to meet the desired goals.
— WSSCC (@WatSanCollabCou) May 26, 2015
The Ngor Declaration, which will be officially released on Wednesday after the African Ministers’ meeting, will likely face the same funding challenges as the eThekwini Declaration, mainly because political will is lacking within the WASH sector.
Bai-Mass Taal, the Executive Secretary of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), explained that the eThekwini Declaration has come to an end with the AfricanSan 4 Conference in Dakar. Taal said that sanitation and hygiene remains a challenge to one third of people in the continent who remain without proper toilet facilities and that there is that there is a need for political will to achieve sanitation for all by 2030.
Sanitation for All (SWA) Vice-Chair Catarina de Albuquerque said that “although countries have been tracking and monitoring progress on the eThekwini Declaration, there are still a lot of things that need to be done.” During the opening session, de Albuquerque also highlighted that “monitoring and follow-up is important in sanitation and – as a result – putting in place proper sanitation monitoring systems are key.”
It now remains to be seen whether the Ngor Declaration will be translated into actions. Otherwise the road after Dakar will still remain bumpy.