Saturday, March 17, 2012

Gambia: $7m to alleviate rura domestic woes

Rehabilitated hand-pump at Sitanunku village,WCR/Pic/MSJoof/NOV2011
The African Development Bank (AfDB) on March 16, 2012 said it has signed two grant agreements with the Gambian government totalling seven million United State Dollars.
The grant is meant to improve access to clean drinking water and better sanitation for an estimated 40,000 people in rural areas of the country and cut hygiene-related deaths in those areas, particularly among children.
The African Development Fund, the AfDB’s concessional or ‘soft loan’ arm, is providing USD 5 million and the remaining USD 2 million dollars will be provided by the AfDB’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative Trust Fund. The funds will be used to build and rehabilitate drinking water supply and sanitation facilities in rural areas of the Gambia.

Backbreaking
It came at a time when majority of Gambia’s rural communities undergo backbreaking efforts to access, if available, “safe drinking water”, with women bearing the brunt of it, while sanitary standards remain a record low as shown by recent statistics.
Rural dwellers trek more than two kilometers using oxcarts to transport water to their villages, but not until when they have queued for two hours only to fill one 20litre container.
Three years after the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared 2008 as the “International Year of Sanitation, the national coverage for improved sanitation in The Gambia remains at 67 percent as of 2011, dropping as low as 31 percent in some regions.
The 1998 UNGA declaration was made in recognition of the impact of sanitation on public health, poverty reduction, economic and social development and the environment.

Top priority
“Providing access to water supply and sanitation is one of the Bank’s top priorities” said Sering Jallow, AfDB Director, Water and Sanitation department and the African Water Facility. “The Bank is glad to partner with the Government of the Gambia to increase access to adequate services in rural areas, educate and empower populations and significantly improve their living conditions.”
AfDB said the Gambia Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project will build capacity and provide safe drinking water, and also help solve the problems of unhygienic handling of drinking water and poor personal hygiene and sanitation practices in rural areas. This is expected to reduce hygiene-related-deaths, which account for 20 percent of mortality of children under five.

Budget-stress
“Clean water supply and sanitation is crucial in the realization of our country’s development goals and poverty reduction strategies,” said Mambury Njie, the Gambia’s minister of finance and economic affairs.
He added that: “This project will help reduce the stress on the country’s national budget, thus redirecting some of the health care budgetary allocations into other development activities; the government of the Gambia has made it a priority to provide clean water supply and sanitation for its people, especially in rural areas.”

New pit-latrine at Dimbaya Village,WCR/Pic/MSJoof/NOV2011
Overstretched
Thousands of Cassamance refugees are living in rural-Gambia, especially in the West Coast Region (WCR), sharing with their hosts the limited resources and as well the poor infrastructure. As a result, water points and sanitary facilities are overstretched.

Increasing poverty
Rural communities made up of mainly farmers are faced with increasing poverty and declining agricultural production – revealing an urgent need for the Government and civil-society organisations to step-up efforts in providing access to clean drinking water and sanitary facilities.

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