Rwanda’s State Minister for Energy and Water, Eng. Coletha Ruhamya, indicated to AfricaSun3 delegates that Rwanda is on the verge of achieving the MDGs thanks to the visionary leadership at the helm of the country.
"Ministers, local authorities and other stakeholders have worked together and responsibly," she told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting for seventeen African Ministers in charge of sanitation.
The State Minister indicated that Ministers of Education, Health and Infrastructure work closely to promote sanitation. It has not been sufficient to construct classrooms alone, but also in terms of the curriculum, a component related to water and sanitation has been included.
"When building houses for the poor in rural area, we emphasised the element of "water and sanitation,” she noted, also adding: "We have another program "umuganda" or "community service" carried out every last Saturday of every month. Residents clean up where they live to ensure a healthy habitat, streets and sewers. The entire community - men and women work in solidarity, considerate of the needs of the most vulnerable, gender sensitivity and equity. "
President Kagame, a source of strong leadership, has strengthened the Rwandan women providing a platform which has enabled them to reach the highest decision making levels of government. It should be emphasized that Rwanda allocates 0.48% of the budget hygiene and sanitation. The Ministries of Health and Infrastructure share this budget.
Ms. Sylvia Matthews Burwell, President of Global Development Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation emphasized that our ecosystems have been destroyed.
"If we clean water or the legacy of clean water, people will live healthier while keeping in mind that the lack of hygiene and sanitation kills many people every day, and in large numbers," she remarked.
Ms. Matthews added: "So we need to redouble our efforts to enable people to have easy access to sanitation. We must also sensitise people to wash their hands after using the toilet and to not defecate in the open. It is important to have latrines and wash hands after visiting them".
According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation official, the objective in 2015 is to have a population with sufficient sanitation facilities. In essence, she added, it is important to "redouble efforts to use innovative technologies, build capacity of our governments, and have a ministry in charge of sanitation. We need strong political commitment in order to establish friendly sanitation habits."
The unique achievements of AfricaSan3 to African countries
The Burkina Faso Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, Mr. Laurent Sedogo, like other delegates of his calibre, returned to their countries with memorable impressions about the AfricaSan3 Conference in Kigali. He said that in the context of the MDGs, water is central to many issues such as health, education and agriculture.
Many MDGs can never be achieved if the issue of water is not resolved, added Mr. Sedogo.
"In our countries, we have tried to deal with the issue of water and sanitation. For the case of Burkina Faso, we have an extensive program called PNAP which involved the mobilization of the international community and local actors. This allowed us to achieve significant results," he revealed.
The Burkinabe Minister added: "Unfortunately, even if with water we can claim to have some success, it is not the case for sanitation where we are still far behind. The practice of defecating in open air space is still very rampant. In urban areas, it is a real challenge to have the appropriate toilet. I think such a conference on sanitation, and organized by AMCOW, is also a very strong signal given to us as line-Ministers in charge of the issue, to enable us to brainstorm how our policies can have mechanisms to accelerate the process to achieve set objectives."
During the Kigali AfricaSan3 Conference Kigali, there were a lot of exchanges on a wide range of issues, including research.
The Minister went on: "We saw evidence of appropriate technologies that could be duplicated in our country. We also had testimony on issues of funding and the role of the business sector, as the private sector can be engaged to support sanitation development. We have seen evidence on institutional arrangements."
All in all, "I think this conference has permitted us to put our focus on the issue of sanitation – to work out how along with other African countries, we can be inspired to learn from each other, to develop a common policy with regard to sanitation, and thus achieve very convincing results," he said.
"How do you think Burkina Faso will attain the MDGs on water and sanitation," is how we put it to the Minister.
Minister Sedogo responded: "Like I indicated earlier, our progress has been very slow. Last year, the Government with the President at the helm, we launched a major mobilisation program – first at the national level, but also the international community as well, to tap resources at all levels: human, material and financial - to strengthen the sanitation sector. That has been done in a way that by 2015, we can achieve our plan. However, it is just a plan. We hope to implement the set targets to be able to reach there."
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