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African Ministers’ Council call for improved access to water, hygiene services

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The African Ministers’ Council on Water has tasked African countries to ramp up efforts to strengthen systems that would improve Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programmes and make water more accessible to Africans in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

AMCOW’s Executive Secretary, Dr. Rashid Mbaziira, made the call on Monday, in Abuja.

He gave an assurance that AMCOW will continue to promote the implementation and utilisation of the African Sanitation Policy Guidelines in member countries.

He stated that the ASPG was formulated using standards from global best practices, noting that its adoption would ensure safely managed sanitation services for the populace.

According to him, Nigeria had been a major partner in AMCOW’s activities, saying more efforts were needed to close the huge sanitation gaps in the country.

Mbaziira harped on the crucial importance of having a functioning system and stakeholders’ partnership, adding that this would strengthen an enabling environment for scaling up sanitation and hygiene services.

He said having a stand-alone sanitation and hygiene policy in the country was important and should be encouraged by all, adding that AMCOW would continue to work to see its acceptance.

“It would be a huge achievement for us if our host country Nigeria utilising the ASPG being developed by a body that it has supported to such a great length, to also strengthen the enabling environment for sanitation and hygiene services provision.

“So for us, it’s one of those things that we really are very keen to see take place, and we would like to render or contribute in any way we can to see to it that there is a sanitation and hygiene policy, whether stand-alone or contributing to other sectors.

“One that can enable the achievement of safely-managed sanitation for Nigeria, and for Nigerians, so it’s something that we are passionate about, and if we can promote it, by all means, appropriate, we should be able to do that,” he said.

Mbaziira said aligning sanitation policies in African countries in line with the ASPG would give it legal backing for prioritisation and institutionalisation for continuity.

“So, now, the linkage to that is that we are recognising the global commitments that we have on SDG six or anything, we are recognising the Ngor commitments as we spoke about, those are continental commitments.

“And we are also recognising the cultural elements that are associated with some of the practices that we do, the norms that we have, and now putting them together in this group may have things and we’re saying that these are the elements, If your sanitation policy follows these elements, it should be able to assure safely managed sanitation in the African context,” He said

Mbaziira applauded the appointment of the two ministers in the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, noting their efforts to scale up hygiene practices were laudable and should be recognised by all.

He reiterated AMCOW’s commitment to continue to support their mission and mandate towards improving the water resources and sanitation sector of the country, saying the partnership was not only in Nigeria but at the continental level.

Mbaziira said Nigeria’s position as the only permanent member of AMCOW’s Executive Committee recognised the country’s role in leadership of the organisation, adding that it ensured continuity and alignment of goals in a sustainable manner.

The executive secretary said the upcoming 7th Africa Sanitation and Hygiene conference in Swakopmund, Namibia, was an opportunity to call all actors to action and a reflection on seeking options for safely managed sanitation services.

AfricaSan7, he said was initiated to provide a platform for technical and political dialogue with governments and stakeholders to identify and share knowledge to address the sanitation and hygiene challenges in Africa.

He said, “And of course, we also have to appreciate that a lot is going on, maybe not as appreciated as it should be, and we need to put that positive narrative out as well, Not everything on sanitation and hygiene in Africa is bad.

“But maybe sometimes this is lost in certain messages, we need to get that message clearly that a lot is being done by our partners or investors, and we need to celebrate that.

“And that should give us the impetus to also look into the things that are challenging for us to be able to do now and find the solutions that are working elsewhere that can be adapted to different circumstances in order to achieve the greater goal.”

Mbaziira stressed the need to look at the upcoming AfricaSan7 as a moment of reflection and call to action to track progress for meeting the six sustainable development goals.

He said the conference will facilitate the assessment of progress by member states in meeting their sanitation and hygiene commitments, as outlined in the 2023 AfricaSan Ngor report.

He, however, welcomed all intending participants to enjoy the beautiful city of Swakopmund, saying it would be an opportunity to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The AfricaSan7 Conference, theme of the AfricaSan7 is ‘Strengthening Systems and Partnerships for Accelerated Action on Safely Managed Sanitation and Hygiene’.

It is billed to hold from November 6 to11 in Swakopmund, Namibia.




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