Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

Africa Water Week Day 1: An Eye Opener

Guest blogger, Dr. George W. Chaima, Executive Director of New Restoration Malawi and member of ANEW shares his thoughts on day one of Africa Water Week 3. 

Dr. George W. ChaimaIt is a fact that water is life and sanitation is health. With only five years away from the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) deadline, water security and sanitation still remain a challenge in Africa and most developing countries. As African governments, civil society organizations, the donor community and other development partners continue to show their commitment to address these challenges, the African Minister’s Council on Water (AMCOW) opened the 3rd Africa Water Week with the remarks of His Excellency the President of Republic of Ethiopia. 

Among key challenges and opportunities mentioned by his Excellency, were strengthening regional cooperation and partnership, competent political commitment, increasing financing investment to fill up financial gap, formulating and implementing policies that can help water resource management and sanitation, and adaptation and management of climate change. For me, the first day of plenary was an important forum for interaction and learning and an eye opener as we began to connect the dots together to reach the MDGs. To add to my own understanding and civil society perspective, I spoke with   Robert Hanjahanja a water utility operations specialist based in Nairobi:

Q: Robert, you witnessed the opening of the conference this morning. You heard all the remarks made in the presentations. What is your take?

A: The meeting was well organized and well attended. It provides the opportunity for all stakeholders to network and create room for institutional reforms. It also gives us the chance to make new partnership for some of new projects to start up.

Q: It was noted in the keynote address that some three hundred million people have no access to water and another five hundred million lack access to sanitation. Why do you think this is the case when we only have five years to go before the Millennium Development Goals deadline?

A: According to my observation, I think  lack of proper coordination, lack of political will, lack of institutional capacity are major setbacks leading to slow progress in the fight against water scarcity and sanitation. If all role players can join hands to address these issues and put aside political resistance, the war can easily be won.




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