KAMPALA - East African countries have been called upon to scale up interventions that aim at attaining the commitments of the EThekwini Declaration that was signed by member states as part of the measures that will boost water access and hygiene progress.
The call was made during the closure of a three-day regional sanitation conference that aimed at tracking progress on the Africa San Action plan and international commitments.
Based on various presentations from a number of countries, it was noted that most governments do not have specific budgets for sanitation and hygiene initiatives.
According to Joseph Katabarwa, a sanitation expert in the Ministry of Health, Rwanda has a budget but with no sufficient data to back implementation of action plans.
“Measures are in progress to improve the situation and this year, a demographic health survey is underway with an environmental health module that will clearly show hygiene practices and what needs to be done,” he said.
The EThekwini Declaration that was signed in 2008 in South Africa is a pledge that countries took to create separate budget lines for sanitation and hygiene and to commit to it at least 0.5 percent of their Gross Domestic Product.
Fidele Nteziyaremye, another official with the Ministry of Health, noted that Rwanda is among countries committed to the declaration, adding that for the 2010 -2011 budget, Rwf20.5 billion has been earmarked for waste disposal and management.
“Under the health ministry budget, there is a particular amount set aside to promote primary health care and this will also be used for promotion of behavioural change,” Nteziyaremye noted.
Officials from Rwanda also cited that sanitation is being strengthened at all schools to ensure that adequate sanitation facilities are set up for students as well as special facilities for the handicapped.
In urban areas, a Kigali City Sewage Master Plan is in place to set up state-of-the-art facilities.