Forum for Equity and Social Inclusion in the WASH sector opens in Dar es Salaam
DAR ES SALAAM, September 28, 2010
A three-day learning forum opened in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, today with representatives of civil society organizations from across the continent sharing experience on different approaches for equity and social inclusion in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector.
The conference organized by the Nairobi-based African Civil Society Network on Water and Sanitation (ANEW), is being attended by around 80 delegates from various African countries.
In his opening address, Tanzania's Minister for Water and Irrigation, Prof. Mark Mwandosya, acknowledged the role played by civil society organizations in helping government efforts at ensuring that more people gain access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.
"The government's role is to provide an enabling environment to different actors in provision of water supply and sanitation services ... This has given us an opportunity to involve all actors including communities, civil society organizations and private sector to supplement government efforts," said the minister.
"We have made efforts to promote the active participation of the civil society organizations and the private sector in service delivery in order to improve efficiency, effectiveness and enhance sustainability of the services."
The Dar es Salaam forum tackles key issues, such as improving equitable and pro-poor services in urban water supply, effective and innovative approaches for urban poor and rural areas and promoting partnerships to increase equitable access to WASH.
The Tanzanian minister noted that water was not simply a humanitarian challenge, it also posed a threat to global stability and the global economy -- particularly so in Africa.
"As you know, most of Africa's waters are shared between two or more countries. This is potential for conflicts if not well managed. I strongly believe that civil society organizations can and should play an important role in ensuring this potential risk (of water conflicts) is being managed," said Mwandosya.
Tanzania and other east African nations that have been facing increasing droughts are currently in a risk of involvement in a potential water conflict with Egypt and Sudan over the River Nile.
Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda have agreed a new pact to share the Nile's waters more fairly and want a 1929 Nile Waters Agreement ripped up.
The colonial agreement between Egypt and Britain gives the lion's share of the Nile's waters to Egypt.
LEARNING AND SHARING
ANEW's Executive Secretary, Ms. Jamillah Mwanjisi, said civil society organizations play a pivotal role in finding innovative solutions to water and sanitation problems across Africa.
"We strongly believe that forums like this can be very effective in promoting contemporary and sustainable approaches to increase demand and supply for water and sanitation services," she said.
"The learning forum provides an opportunity to explore and document the success stories and key challenges and draw lessons on what we can do better to meet the water and sanitation crisis in Africa."
About 22 case studies will be presented and discussed in the forum to enable participants to draw key lessons on what has worked well and identify key challenges in promoting equitable access to water and sanitation.
Participants in the forum noted that despite the fact that the United Nations recently declared access to safe water as a human right, many African countries would likely miss the Millennium Development Goals on water.
The MDGs target is to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015.
Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, which is hosting the ANEW forum, has achieved water supply coverage of 68 percent for its estimated 3 million inhabitants against a target of 90 percent.
On a global perspective, a staggering one billion people lack access to safe drinking water while 2.4 billion are without adequate sanitation.
Updated on 29 September 2010