SDG#6 is an inspiration for Water Energy and Sanitation for Development (WESDE), an active member of our Horyou community. With the aim to fill the gap left by civil society organizations in terms of Health and Environment Education and Integrated Water Resources Management in Cameroon, WESDE faces security, infrastructure and funding challenges to bring development to urban and rural populations in the far North region of the country. Interview with Marie Louise Kongne, WESDE National Coordinator.

WESDE team acting in Cameroon

What are WESDE’s main goals?

While improving significantly the sanitation, hygiene and housing conditions of disadvantaged populations, we aim to reduce the percentage of the population that does not have sustainable access to a drinking water supply. We also want to train and educate people to sustainable management of water resources and the protection of the environment, trying to reverse the current trend of loss of environmental resources. In order to do so, we seek to cooperate with national and international organizations, develop and maintain partnership, exchange and learning relationships. Last but not least, one of our objectives is to accompany the community in the fight against HIV / AIDS in order to stop its spread and reverse the current trend.

Tell us about your main achievements in 2017 and your plans for 2018

In 2017, we helped to raise awareness on education and training of 125 community health workers to work closely with families in 9 health areas on 12 main themes. In total, more than 43,000 households were visited. We also had an active participation in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) coordination meetings of the far North region under the co-lead of UNICEF and the far North Regional Delegation of Water and Energy and, as a Partner of Global Water Partnership (GWP) Central Africa, we contributed to the WASH resilience project in the Mayo Tsanaga sub-basin. In 2018, we aim to implement the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach in 150 villages of 3 pilot health areas as part of the support of the government to improve sanitation conditions in rural areas.

What main challenges do you face in your work?

We have no appropriate vehicles, as we need 4X4 vehicles to reach many areas. The self-financing mechanism is still very weak and there is not a long-term program, which could be at least 3-year renewable. Also, we develop our activities in a context of high insecurity (by Boko Haram)

Your work is closely connected with the SDG#6. In your point of view, how important is it to have a global agenda for water and sanitation?

In comparison with Drinking Water Supply, sanitation has often fallen behind government and donor concerns; however, this situation is moving in the right direction as sectorial strategies are increasingly putting sanitation at the top of the agenda. Recent studies have shown the importance of sanitation for improving health, promoting social development and protecting the environment. It has also been shown that Sanitation interventions are particularly effective in terms of cost reduction if we judge the increase in productivity that they induce and the decrease in the diseases and deaths that they allow. With this in mind, in the framework of the International Year of Sanitation (AIA) by the United Nations in 2008, the African continent, with the support of the African Ministerial Council for Water and Sanitation (AWCOW) organized the AfricaSan conference in Durban in 2008. This regional conference culminated in the ambitious eThekwini ministerial statement, stressing the importance of leadership in sanitation and recommending that 0.5% of GDP must be spent on sanitation.

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