Ministers of water, sanitation prepare to deliver on SDGs

Pretoria - Ministers of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene from around the world have met in Ethiopia to prepare for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to sanitation, water and hygiene.

The meeting was held in Addis Ababa from 15 - 16 March. It was organised by the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) partnership and convened by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

SWA has over 100 partners, mostly governments, and works as a platform for encouraging and coordinating political dialogue and action around water, sanitation and hygiene issues.

African Union Commission chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who spoke at the closing session of the meeting, underscored the importance of water as the primary vehicle to drive development on the continent.

Dlamini Zuma used the platform to appeal to delegates to focus on women and children in all their strategies as in the African context, they have the primary responsibility of providing water, health and food. Women also constitute 70% of the agricultural work force.

She also called for the inclusion of women and girls in all development projects, not just as passive beneficiaries but as legitimate participants.

She applauded the multi-sector nature of the forum and cautioned that although monitoring, evaluation and reporting are very critical, the systems should not be so cumbersome that they compromise delivery.

"We must not forget that all we do should be directed towards improving the quality of life for our people, particularly women and children," Dlamini Zuma said.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake called on the participants to increase efforts in implementing Vision 2030 SDGs and Agenda 2063.

Lake also committed UNICEF to accelerating its efforts to provide every child with equal chances.

Ethiopia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for ownership and joint resourcing of all programmes developed to address water, sanitation and hygiene. He said all of this will require community involvement and contribution.

The outcomes of the two-day forum will inform continental and global meetings of the Ministers of Finance in line with the objectives of the SWA.