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Water and sanitation pledges could help 85 million Africans

Ministers have vowed to provide better access to water and sanitation across Africa. (Image source: Oxfam East Africa)

WaterAid has welcomed promises from African government ministers that could provide 85.4 million Africans with access to essential services across the continent

The pledges were made by developing country ministers participating in the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) High Level Meeting in Washington DC.

In order to honour their commitment, governments will need to increase access to water by five per cent and sanitation by seven per cent in their respective countries. Individual country commitments were also tabled by ministers.

“A lack of safe sanitation and water and the diarrhoea it causes is the biggest killer of children in sub-Saharan Africa,” stated WaterAid chief executive Barbara Frost.

“The key challenge now will be putting in place and delivering the national plans in a timely fashion to make these commitments a reality.”

In figures calculated by WaterAid, 35.6 million people will reportedly gain increased access to water, while 49.8 million people will have greater access to sanitation.

As part of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on sanitation, WaterAid will aim to save the lives of more than 280,000 children under the age of five by 2015.

At current rates of progress, however, the continent is not expected to reach the target until 2175.

WaterAid has also welcomed the announcement from the UK Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell MP, that the UK will be doubling the number of people it intends to reach with water, improved hygiene and sanitation by 2015, from 30 million to at least 60 million people.

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