AfricaSan7 conference spotlights access to toilets

Precious Nghitaunapo
The agriculture, water and land reform ministry in collaboration with the African Ministers' Council on Water (AMCOW), kicked off the 7th Africa Sanitation (AfricaSan7) Conference this week in Swakopmund.

The conference is taking place under the theme 'Strengthening systems and partnerships for accelerated action on safely managed sanitation and hygiene'. The gathering is aimed at strengthening partnerships and facilitating knowledge exchange for action on delivering safely managed sanitation and hygiene services.

Catalysing action on research and innovation, capacity development for sustainable and equitably sanitation and hygiene solutions, while also promoting hygiene and behaviour change and gender mainstreaming and inclusive approaches, are among the main objectives of the meeting.

Fundamental rights

Speaking at the opening of the conference, agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein, said "the commitments in line with the sustainable development goals are to seek to achieve universal access to adequate and sustainable sanitation of hygiene services and to eliminate open defecation by 2030, paying special attention to the needs of women, girls and those in a vulnerable situation.”

He said “the importance of safety, managed sanitation and hygiene was not and cannot be overemphasised.”

Apart from being a fundamental human right that empowers individuals and transforms communities, it is a basic enabler for bringing about health and well-being, education and economic transformation, Schlettwein added.

The minister said the achievement of the African Union Agenda 2063, especially the aspiration for a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, hinges on safety, managed sanitation and hygiene and water resources.

Long way to go

Erongo regional governor Neville Andre said approximately 10% of households lack toilet facilities in Namibia.

Among this group, about 5% are from urban areas, while 53% are from rural areas. “However, we are happy to inform you that some dry pit latrines have been constructed in our rural areas of the region, as well as improvements to sewerage systems in our settlement areas to address sanitation,” he said.