Statement by H.E. Tesfai Ghebreselassie Minister of Land, Water and Environment, Eritrea at the Sanitation and Water for All
High – Level Ministerial Meeting for the Africa region
Honorable Chairperson of SWA – Mr. Kevin Rudd,
Excellencies fellow ministers and
Representatives of Development Partners
I feel honored to represent my country Eritrea in this SWA High Ministerial virtual meeting. I congratulate the organizers of this event, which will be a medium for sharing experience on how the participating countries have been implementing the WASH program, and the way forward.
To reiterate the obvious and commonly narrated adage, water is life, i.e. it is a fundamental resource for life sustenance. Due to the defining role that it plays in securing socio-economic development and overall human wellbeing, access to adequate and safe water, sanitation and hygiene services is basically a human rights issue. With this outlook, Eritrea is working with great commitment to ensure this right for its citizens and to realize the SDGs by 2030. The progress that Eritrea made in this regard is appreciable when compared to the awful condition that prevailed before its independence.
Of the total population above 80% now have access to acceptably safe drinking water and over 32% have access to toilets. Recently 54% of our villages have declared themselves to be open defecation free (ODF), 50% of our schools have access to safe drinking water and 67% have latrines; while 50% of health facilities have access to improved water source. The sharp reduction of waterborne diseases and relief of tens of thousands of people, mainly women and young girls and boys from the back breaking everyday task of fetching water are also noteworthy.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector, especially hand hygiene, along with social distancing, partial lock down and public health awareness campaign, has become the top national priority in combating the spread of the pandemic.
Despite the achievements made, the many gaps and challenges that still need to be addressed leave no room for us to be complacent. These challenges and gaps include water shortage, which is aggravated due to climate change, unmet water supply and sanitation services, the need to upgrade the standard of existing water supply and sanitation and hygiene facilities as well as the need to improve the management of liquid and solid wastes.
The government is implementing 2019-2030 One WASH Strategy and Investment Plan, the National Roadmap to End Open Defecation by 2022, and it has also embarked on conducting WASH inventory and formulation of concrete plans. This will require huge investment and commitment.
In confirming Eritrea’s commitment towards the achievements of WASH goals within the determined time frame, I would like to note that the usual cooperation and strategic partnership of multilateral and bilateral development partners in mobilizing the required resources is highly appreciated in order to ensure that no one is left behind.
I thank you for your kind attention