Thursday, April 23, 2015

7 Countries train in sanitation advocacy

By Edmund Smith-Asante, ACCRA
Some of the participants at the Sanitation Advocacy Workshop

Experts from seven West African countries are meeting in Accra to discuss the problems of sanitation advocacy in the region and learn how best to use advocacy to influence better investment in sanitation.  

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and organised by WaterAid West Africa (WAWA), the workshop is the second phase of a similar one held last year and is being attended by participants from Ghana, Nigeria, Niger, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and Mali.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, Mr Tanko Azzika, Coordinator of the WaterAid Regional Learning Centre and Citizen Engagement, said sanitation was not only a problem in West Africa.

“That is why we want to see how best we can use advocacy to influence better investment in sanitation by governments and other stakeholders to speed up our game in delivering sanitation services to the poor,” he said.

He noted that all countries in the sub region would not achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target because they had performed very poorly in sanitation coverage. The coordinator also explained that the workshop was to afford the participating countries and partners, where WaterAid operated, the opportunity to learn from each other.

According to Mr Azzika, at the close of the workshop, there would be an action plan on carrying forward the sanitation agenda for all the participating countries for the next three years.

In all, 23 participants from the seven countries and partners, including civil society and government agencies in the water and sanitation sector participated in the workshop.

Sanitation headache
The head of Policy and Partnership, WaterAid Ghana, Mr Musah Ibrahim, said his organisation was ready to work with national and local governments to tackle the “hydra-headedness” of sanitation across West Africa.

“Both basic toilets and solid waste management are threatening public health outcomes and livelihoods; the need to tackle them is urgent. A clear example of poor sanitation is the 2014 cholera which claimed lives. Governments in the West Africa sub-region must take action now,” he stated.

Mrs Isabelle Barry, head of Policy, WaterAid Burkina Faso, expressed satisfaction with deliberations at the meeting as they offered her the opportunity to learn from the experiences of other WaterAid countries.

The Advocacy and Partnership Manager, WaterAid Nigeria, Mr Saheed Mustafa, said,  “It is an opportunity for us WaterAid partners to determine collectively what our focus should be as an organisation in terms of ensuring that we move sanitation from the access level it is right now to the access level we want it to be.” 

This story was first published by the Daily Graphic on April 23, 2015

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