KIGALI - A three-day regional workshop on pro-poor urban sanitation and hygiene kicked off yesterday in Kigali.
The workshop will provide a platform for sharing best practices on sanitation and hygiene within regional countries.
Opening the meeting, the Minister of Health, Dr Richard Sezibera, said that infectious diseases strike when people are crowded together under poor sanitary conditions.
“In our country diarrhoeal diseases are among the highest killers of our children under five years, and a significant proportion of this is due to insufficient sanitation,” he said.
Sezibera noted that access to safe water and adequate sanitation facilities, as well as better hygiene practices, are critical in the people’s lives.
“In Rwanda, various strategies have been designed to rapidly address the existing hygiene and sanitation challenges, these include countrywide campaigns and community-based environmental health promotional programmes,” the Minister said.
He pointed out that President Paul Kagame launched a Presidential initiative on hygiene and sanitation initiative with clear targets that include division of labour amongst stakeholders and clear road maps by all districts and communities to address issues of sanitation and greening.
“Hygiene and sanitation cannot be left to the Ministry of Health alone, it has to be embraced by all leaders in the country and communities,” he noted.
The Minister added that community hygiene clubs will be formed at the village level to ensure maximum involvement of all households.
Rene Van Lieshout, the Senior Programme Officer at the International Water and Sanitation Centre, urged participants to reflect critically on the factors that improve urban sanitation and hygiene.
“We shouldn’t look at this workshop as one of the usual events; it should be for learning and sharing best practices that enhance good sanitation and hygiene in our cities,” he noted.
The workshop brought together over 60 professionals in urban sanitation and hygiene from Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mozambique and Southern Sudan.