Friday, 25 May 2012

WaterAid pushes for regional ministerial and parliamentary cooperation on water and sanitation

From left: D. Sozzi, (from Ministry of Water and Environment), Hon. Maria Mutagamba, Bethlehem Mengistu and Nelson Gomonda

During the recent Africa Water Week conference in Cairo, Bethlehem Mengistu, WaterAid’s Regional Advocacy Manager, East Africa and Nelson Gomonda, WaterAid’s Pan-African Programme Manager, held a closed ministerial meeting with the Hon. Maria Mutagamba, the Uganda Minister of Water and Environment to discuss ways of formalising the regional partnership with WaterAid under the Minister’s leadership.

This regional initiative is geared towards creating better cooperation and understanding to help address key water and sanitation issues.  It will also be used as an opportunity to work with governments on an implementation framework for regional and pan-African priorities, as well as putting into practice the key recommendations and calls coming out of Africa Water Week.

The main issues discussed in the meeting with the Minister included:

  •  The formalising working relationship with the minister to leverage regional and pan African policy influencing and advocacy; and
  •  The Minister’s ambassadorship in advocating the implementation of water and sanitation commitments made which include those at AfricaSan 3, eThekwini and those during the Washington DC High Level Meeting and any other commitments at regional level.

The meeting also discussed the possibility of holding a regional follow up meeting, and exploring the opportunity of working with the other regional institutions and the Pan-African Parliament to advocate for improved water and sanitation access.

Hon. Maria Mutagamba, an ex-president of AMCOW, is highly regarded by the heads of states as well as fellow ministers across Africa.  Because of her hard work in ensuring water and sanitation for all on the continent during the Africa Water Week she was recognised and accorded the title of “Mama Africa for WASH.”

Friday, 18 May 2012

WaterAid’s video sets the tone for Africa Water Week

The WaterAid video; Water for Growth in Africa, AMCOW at 10 years, was screened at Africa Water Week and turned out to be one of the major highlights, helping to set the scene for the ministerial discussions across around the conference.

The video calls for action to address the sanitation and water crisis in Africa as a crucial step to poverty eradication and development.

People’s reaction

After watching the video, Mr Bai Mass Taal, Executive Secretary of AMCOW moderated a high level panel discussion centring on the video.  Below are some of the views from the high level audience:

Hon. Maria Mutagamba Uganda’s Minister of Water and Environment “It was not easy seeing people in the video drinking dirty water, it sends shivers into my body...  At the end of the video, people were clapping and I kept wondering why they were clapping when the video clip is clearly showing the situation is so bad?”

Dr. Hesham Kandil the AMCOW president and Egypt Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation when asked whether he will keep his promises his response was that; “this is the time for the political leadership to walk the talk.”  He pledged that under his leadership, AMCOW would ensure that interventions are targeted, going to areas where a real difference can be made.

Mr Getache Engida, Deputy Director General of UNESCO also emphasised the message that political leaders in Africa should walk the talk.

Walter North, Director, USAID Egypt Mission asked the audience, “Now that you have seen the video, are you convinced on the need to invest more in water?”

Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua, Minister of Research in Congo Brazzaville and Former AMCOW president, noted that there are a number of key questions to ask if we are to accelerate progress.  He asked why Africa is reported to be making such good economic progress with GDP registering an average of 6% to 10% growth and yet the continent has so many people without access to safe water and sanitation.  He encouraged his peers to continue advocating for governments to take urgent actions to address the situation.  He concluded that lack of access to safe water and sanitation in Africa should be viewed as an emergency.

Oseloka Zikora, Communications, AMCOW Secretariat saidWhen I set out asking Nelson Gomonda and the WaterAid team, if this was possible to make a video, I was really testing the water considering the time frame. I had hopes that the film would make a significant impact, but I never anticipated the impact would resonate so much with the audience.  Thank you to WaterAid.”

WaterAid is making a big impact at the 4th Africa Water Week to keep the focus on the important issues and I hope the 34 Ministers and the other government representatives who have gathered here will go back to their countries with renewed vigour and determination to make a positive difference in quenching the thirst for water in Africa.

It remains to be seen how these solutions will be captured in the technical sessions and how these will translated into concrete practical action to ensure water for growth in Africa.  More on this to follow.