13, octobre 1998
REGIONAL MEETING IN HARARE FOR THE
AFRICA 2000 INITIATIVE ON WATER SUPPLY AND SANITATION
A Regional Meeting for the AFRICA 2000 Initiative for water supply and sanitation took place in Harare, Zimbabwe, last week, with the participation of 95 senior specialists representing 46 African governments, as well as non-governmental organizations. The meeting discussed
progress achieved at the country level in implementing the recommendations of the 1996
Brazzaville Declaration, which emphasized community-level response to planning and
resources, interministerial cooperation, external support based on government commitment
and realistic plans, and strengthening of national capacity to avoid dependency.
Recommendations on crucial issues addressing the water supply and
sanitation sector development and a plan of action were the main products of the Harare
meeting. The participants emphasized the importance of access to water supply and
sanitation as a major factor to improve the health and wellbeing of the African
population. In this regard, they expressed concern at the lack of sustainability of water supply and sanitation services in the African Region. Many countries reported that over 40 percent of the water supply and sanitation facilities in rural areas are non-operational
at any one time and that in urban areas, the water losses in the distribution systems
frequently amounts to 50 percent of the produced water or more.
In order to improve the situation, the meeting recommended that African countries should intensify efforts towards decentralization of the water supply and
sanitation sector, promotion of community management of water supply and sanitation
services through participatory approaches and cost sharing initiatives.
The participants also recommended that policy- and decision-makers
should place water supply and sanitation as a high priority issue within the national
development planning framework in each African nation. They requested WHO to continue
hosting the secretariat for AFRICA 2000 and to assist Member States in mobilizing
international resources for the implementation of the recommendations and plan of action
adopted at this meeting. In his closing remarks, Dr Ebrahim Samba, WHO Regional Director
for Africa, stressed that water supply and sanitation will be one of the principal
components of the newly created Division on Environmental Health in the Regional Office of WHO for Africa.
The aim of the AFRICA 2000 Initiative, adopted in 1993, was to create a common vision for water supply and sanitation, based in part on making optimal use of
locally available skills and materials to address the urgent water supply and sanitation
problems and needs of all African nations. It recommended that African countries should
take the lead in their own development and promote empowerment at all levels; form
partnerships and collaboration (both local and external) to optimize the mobilization of
all possible resources for the water supply and sanitation sector; and promote development
based on local skills and resources.
The Initiative was triggered by the fact that by the end of the United
Nations International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade, in 1990, most African
countries had failed to achieve its objectives. The population served with safe water
supply was 288 millions, which represented 45% of the African population. Only 229
millions - hardly 36% of the population - had access to adequate sanitation facilities.
The projections for the year 2000 based on mid-term assessments indicate that the gap
between served and unserved is widening. If major efforts are not undertaken immediately,
it is likely that the population without access to safe water supply will increase from
345 millions in 1990 to 447 millions in 2000, and that less than one third of the African
population will have access to adequate sanitation facilities by the turn of the century.
The health consequences are enormous. At any given time, an estimated
half of the African population suffers from one or more of the six main diseases
associated with poor water and sanitation (diarrhoea, ascaris, dracunculiasis, hookworm,
schistosomiasis and trachoma). About 3 million African men, women and children die
unnecessarily each year from water and sanitation-related diseases, underscoring the
urgent need to devise new responses and solutions. The current social and health
indicators in Africa, such as life expectancy at birth (46 years); infant mortality rate
(125 per 1000 live births); and under-5 mortality rate (200 per 1000 live births), would
be significantly improved through universal access to safe clean water and adequate
sanitation facilities in the Region.
[ For further information, journalists can
contact Philippe Stroot, Coordinator Media Relations, WHO, Geneva. Telephone (41 22) 791
25 35, Fax (41 22) 791 48 58. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org ]
The Brazzaville Declaration
We, the policy-makers of African governments, NGOs and external
agencies who participated in the First Regional Consultation on the AFRICA 2000 Initiative
for Water Supply and Sanitation, held in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, 25-27 June
1996, discussed serious problems facing urban, rural and peri-urban populations.
Discussions evolved around case studies taken from the 46 Member States of the African
Region of the World Health Organization. Ways and means of solving the problems were
elaborated in a seven-point action programme for immediate follow-up by governments.
Recognizing that nearly 400 million people - more than half of
Africa's population - currently have no access to safe drinking-water, and even more are
without sanitary means of excreta disposal, illustrating that sanitation in particular
requires special attention because of serious past neglect.
Mindful that an estimated three million African men, women and children
die unnecessarily every year from water and sanitation-related diseases;
Underscoring the compelling evidence from the case studies that the toll in death and
disease outweighs the toll from natural diseases such as drought, floods and earthquakes;
We have, therefore, resolved to direct solutions to the continent's
critical water supply and sanitation problems. We will do so through the adoption of four
1. Set priorities based on:
- expressed desires of our people,
- "bottom-up" planning to ensure that people's voices are heard and that
investments match needs.
2. Mobilize local skills and resources, and enhance them where necessary, in order to:
- implement appropriate affordable solutions,
- ensure optimum use of community management and local resources,
- improve the efficiency and effectiveness of investments,
- increase sustainability
3. Ensure that water and sanitation partnerships for health and development involve;
- communities, local governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector in
concerted efforts to address common problems and prevent wasteful duplication,
- governments who will coordinate water supply and sanitation programmes through
interministerial cooperation which takes full advantage of the capabilities of all
4. Ensure that requests for external support are based on:
- nationally prepared plans and programmes, not on donor-driven priorities,
- programmes reflecting people's real needs,
- powerful social and economic arguments for greater government investments in water
supply and sanitation,
- demonstrate political commitment and resolve to the sector,
- efficient use that builds national capacity and reduced dependency.
AFRICA 2000 is an initiative of African governments for accelerated progress for
enabling all Africans to have access to safe water and sanitation. This initiative puts
leadership of water and sanitation development in the hands of African governments.
Under the banner of AFRICA 2000, we policy-makers pledge to mobilize all possible
internal and external resources to remedy this critical shortfall in two of people's basic
human rights - safe water supply and sanitation.
We further request the WHO Regional Director of Africa to widely disseminate the
Declaration to Heads of States of all African countries and to the Secretary-General of
the Organization of African Unity and other leaders in the continent.
(Endorsed in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, 27june 1996, b 108 policy-makers of
46 African Governments, NGOs and external agencies.)