The 33rd Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC) International Conference ended in Accra last Friday with a call for strong advocacy and political will to address sanitation issues in Africa.
The five-day conference, which attracted over 300 participants from Africa and Asia, called for hard work and frank discussions on sanitation to save over 2.6 billion people in Africa living without safe and hygienic places of convenience.
Mr John Lane, a member of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council of WEDC, said Africa was not doing well in managing sanitation, despite an increase in population. He said the continent should, apart from the health and social benefits, consider the income generation potential in proper sanitation management.
'One dollar investment in sanitation generates nine dollars worth economic benefit. It should be considered more as business than charity,' Mr Lane added.
Ms Cecilia Abena Dapaah, Minister of State for Water Resources, Works and Housing, who closed the conference, told participants that government had decentralised its sanitation roles and these had been taken up by local authorities to achieve effectiveness.
She stated that the private sector had also come on board and this had made a positive impact, especially in waste management.
The Minister commended WEDC for providing such a forum for discussions since its inception in 1973 to improve water and sanitation issues affecting the rural poor in Africa.
Ms Daapah further called for innovative approaches to speed up the attainment of the Millennium Development goals on water and sanitation, instead of allowing lack of funds to prevent the attainment of goals.
The conference which was under the theme: 'Access to Sanitation and Safe Water; Global Partnerships and Local Actions', also promoted networking among stakeholders to provide the needed sanitation and water services to rural communities, with special commitment to the interests of the physically challenged.