Conference Calls For East African Countries To Prioritize Water, Sanitation Programs

During a sanitation conference being held in Kampala, Uganda, this week, “experts have urged regional countries to prioritize programs aimed at increasing access to safe water and sanitation” to move them closer to reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target in 2015, New Times/ reports. “According to Water Aid, an international NGO, one billion people still lack access to safe drinking water while 2.4 billion lack adequate sanitation,” the news service writes.

Conference attendees emphasized the connection between sanitation and child mortality, as well as other MDG targets, such as poverty eradication and universal primary education, the newspaper reports.

“Diarrhoea is one of the leading causes of under-five mortality. Promoting hygiene will substantially reduce child mortality that results from this disease as well as intestinal worms that are responsible for malnutrition,” Aphrodis Kagaba, a health and sanitation expert from Rwanda, said (Nambi, 3/5).

The conference ended with a call for East African countries to “scale up interventions that aim at attaining the commitments of the EThekwini Declaration that was signed by member states as part of the measures that will boost water access and hygiene progress,” the New Times/ reports in a separate story.

The countries who signed the EThekwini Declaration in 2008 pledged “to create separate budget lines for sanitation and hygiene and to commit to it at least 0.5 percent of their Gross Domestic Product” on such projects, according to the news service. Despite this pledge, the meeting highlighted the fact “most governments do not have specific budgets for sanitation and hygiene initiatives,” New Times/ writes.

The article details several ongoing projects aimed at improving sanitation in Rwanda, as described by an official from the country’s Ministry of Health (Nambi, 3/5).

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