Today, the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) joins the continental and global community to commemorate the world toilet day to promote the important role of toilets which is usually unnoticed. This is done to raise the profile of toilets, and thereby spurring the necessary action from governments and decision-makers to prioritize sanitation through supporting the provision of toilets in every home.
Approximately, 100 - 250 grams of faeces are excreted by an adult daily. Assuming this is multiplied by 7.9 billion inhabitants of planet earth. This would amount to about 2 million tons of faeces. Imagine if there are no toilets to contain this waste, what would become of the environment? It would be a dirty and stinky place filled with flies and harmful insects. Human beings would be infected with disease-causing organisms. There would be no privacy and dignity for humans, and productivity would be affected. In short, the world would be a terrible place to live.
In its quest to support over 700 million people who live without improved toilets, AMCOW is advocating and influencing governments’ decision to make accessibility to toilets normal for everyone. This is being implemented through policy reforms using the African Sanitation Policy Guidelines (ASPG). The ASPGs are a set of guidelines developed to guide African governments in the revision and development of sanitation policies and strategies towards the attainment of inclusive, safely managed sanitation facilities and services for all. Attributes of sanitation technology that that promotes safely managed sanitation are prescribed in the ASPG as well as issues around financing. Details on the ASPG can be found here. To request for support to domesticate the Guidelines, click here
Hygienic toilets that adequately separate faeces from human contact has the potential to improve the wellbeing of the environment and humans. Unfortunately, for 700 million people in Africa, it is a mirage trying to fathom what it means to value toilets when they do not have one in the first place. This means they have to walk for miles to relieve themselves in the bushes and constantly stand the risk of being raped or bitten by reptiles such as snakes. This is not normal and shouldn’t be the reality of anyone. With nine years to the end of the Sustainable Development Goals, the world is alarmingly off track in the pursuit of achieving sustainable and safely managed sanitation services for all by 2030. At the current rate of progress, governments would need to quadruple their efforts for the SDG6 target on sanitation and hygiene to be actualized.
In line with supporting the African populace to access toilets, AMCOW, through the Ngor commitment on sanitation and hygiene is tracking progress made by member states according to the 10 commitments of the Ngor . The findings from the progress assessment will be used to inform relevant intervention to strengthen capacity in areas of little or no progress. Recent data of African Union (AU) member states against the Ngor commitments shows slow progress on commitment 3, sanitation and hygiene budget lines; 5 human resources and capacity gaps; 7, eliminate untreated waste and 8 private sector engagements. These commitments will be discussed at the forthcoming Africa Water and Sanitation Conference to be held virtually on 22 – 26 November 2021. Through this knowledge sharing and peer to peer learning event, member states would be invited to share country specific progress against country targets and bottlenecks encountered during implementation.
In addition to the country dialogue sessions where countries will be presenting, other interesting sector specific discussions on water and sanitation from credible organizations will be presented. The event will be facilitated in both French and English and will provide an opportunity for networking to foster relationships between organizations of a similar mandate. To register for the Africa Water and sanitation week, click here: http://register.africawatersanitationweek.amcow-online.org/.
AMCOW’s sanitation initiatives are geared towards contributing to accessing and valuing toilets due to its vital role for a healthy life and environment. AMCOW calls on the AU member states to work in synergy with decision-makers, government, relevant stakeholders, and the private sector to ensure safe toilets are accessible to everyone. We further call on development partners to align funding opportunities to country targets and work collaboratively with AMCOW and African governments to support vulnerable groups and pro-poor communities towards an inclusive approach in ensuring that lack of toilets become a thing of the past.
_Comfort Kanshio is the African Sanitation Policy Guidelines Support Officer