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Go to Water Developments
See Pan African CSO-WSSD Conference

AFRICAN UNION TO MOBILIZE RESOURCES FOR SANITATION
    
December 7, 2001

The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Thursday joined a declaration by other African countries to take action to reduce death rates as a result of poor hygiene, and that called for the issue of disease-contaminated water to be put at the centre of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the UN Environment Programme reported.

The ministerial recommendation comes in the wake of figures showing that 6,000 people per day, or over two million per year, are dying as a result of substandard sanitation.

The ministers, meeting in Bonn, Germany, at the International Conference on Freshwater, resolved to put water, sanitation and hygiene issues at the centre of the sustainable development agenda in Africa, adding that they hoped that the summit, taking place in Johannesburg next September, would deliver much-needed solutions to Africa's water and sanitation crisis.

The declaration cited a variety of problems needing solutions, including the fact that, with an expected population increase of 400 million by 2010, at least 17 African countries will be short of water within a decade.

"Their lack of water will severely constrain food production, ecosystem protection and socioeconomic development," the declaration stated.

Today, the declaration stated, over 300 million people in Africa still do not have reasonable access to safe water. "Even more lack adequate sanitation," it added.

The declaration also highlighted how almost half of the people in Africa have suffered from water-related diseases; how habitats, ecosystems and aquatic species are at risk from the increasing demand for water; and the lack of agreements between countries on the equitable share of water resources such as underground aquifers, lakes and rivers.

"With over 50 major international water basins in Africa" procedures for avoiding or resolving international disputes over water are largely lacking, the ministers said.

They also called on developed nations to join in the effort by a renewed attempt to meet the development aid targets as set down in the 2000 Millennium Declaration.

Eight key actions need to be carried out by African countries and the international community to deliver sufficient safe and clean water for people and wildlife.

Efforts are to be focused on a range of issues including:

Governance of the water sector: including strengthening of policy, laws and institutional reforms and the decentralisation and empowerment of local communities to help deliver successful water resource management.

Intergovernmental policy dialogue for water security: including the building of an African regional ministerial forum for water to help overcome the various difficulties Africa faces in relation to water security and health.

Financing for the development of the water sector: Ministers agreed to mobilise resources to meet water challenges and to try and create conditions to attract the massive investments needed for water and sanitation.

In addition to the DRC, the 17-point declaration was agreed to by ministers from Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda.

The ministers also agreed to hold a meeting of the 53 African ministers in charge of water in Nigeria in March or April 2002.
    
    
    
    
    
    
    

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