Dec 9, 2015, 9:57 AM
27th September 2016, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Ministry
of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources kicked off a four-day WASH
Bottleneck Analysis Workshop, supported by UNICEF.
The workshop, held at the Ocean Bay Hotel and Resort, is part of efforts to strengthen the enabling environment and improve service-delivery in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector in The Gambia.
The opening of the workshop was preceded by a one-day training of a core group of facilitators from government, UNICEF, academia, individual consultants and researchers on the application of the Bottleneck Analysis Tool, led by the technical officer from UNICEF West and Central Africa Regional Office in Dakar.
This training activity is to have a pool of facilitators to co-facilitate the workshop and subsequent ones, to ensure continuity and increased capacity building in-country.
During the period of the workshop, participants deliberated on key bottlenecks in the enabling environment relating to the country’s WASH programme, drawing up concrete recommendations that will feed into strengthening the national campaign to end open defecation, as well as the review of national WASH policies and strategies.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the UNICEF Country Representative, Sara Beysolow Nyanti, welcomed participants and expressed delight in UNICEF’s partnership with the Gambia government to ensure effective service delivery for children in the country.
“The Gambia is one of the few African countries that has made great strides in improving access to WASH with coverage figures as high as 89% for water and 59% for sanitation”.
This is in addition to the remarkable progress made in reducing open defecation, with the current national rate at 2%. She emphasized that although improving equitable and sustainable access to WASH, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable is still a challenge in the hardest to reach areas, the gains in The Gambia are so good that achieving the global goals is possible.
Ms Nyanti also said when all sub-Saharan African countries made the Ngor Declaration to achieve Open Defecation free status by 2030 in line with the SDGs, President Yahya Jammeh declared that Gambians would achieve this milestone by December 2017. This workshop was a major step towards realizing that goal.
With a global focus on the Sustainable Development Goals, the challenge has become even greater for the country, especially with the set goals to achieve affordable and safely-managed water, sanitation and hygiene for all, and at all times.
The UNICEF representative noted that the workshop came at a crucial time, as The Gambia is implementing a national plan to end open defecation in 2017, in parallel with the development of the United Nations Development Action Framework (UNDAF) and the PAGE successor.
The results of the workshop will also inform the implementation of the new UNICEF and Gambia Government 2017-2021 Country Programme, creating a great opportunity to build on the progress already made and ensure the sustainable provision of efficient WASH services across the country.
Health minister Dr Omar Sey thanked UNICEF for supporting the successful implementation of the workshop.
“WASH interventions improve health outcomes, advance education, reduce poverty and malnutrition, increase child and maternal survival, drive economic growth, contribute to gender equality and dignity and improve overall quality of life”.
He added that an estimated 748 million people still lack access to safe drinking water, and 2.5 billion lack access to basic sanitation.
Delivering the joint statement for his Ministry and the Ministry of Environment, Sey reaffirmed the two ministries’ commitment to the presidential declaration to end open defecation in 2017. He also expressed their commitment to the implementation of the results from the bottleneck analysis, in line with this and other objectives.
The bottleneck analysis workshop saw the support of the UNICEF Regional Office with lead facilitation provided by Dawda Jawara, WASH Specialist at the UNICEF West and Central Africa Office.
The analysis centered on two subsectors of Rural Water Supply and Rural Sanitation at national and subnational level focusing on Central River Region, which has the lowest WASH and child survival indicators. The lessons from this analysis are expected to be utilized for the planning of a similar assessment for urban areas, in line with UNICEF’s policies on equity.
Participants at the workshop used the tools to conduct an in-depth analysis on the gaps existing across various building blocks, including policy and strategy; finance; planning, monitoring and review; capacity development; institutional arrangements; broader enabling environment; and service providers. This was complemented by the identification of possible solutions and actions to address the challenges and close the gaps in the WASH sector.
Following the analysis of the existing gaps and challenges to progress in the WASH sector, participants developed a costed plan of action for the removal of the identified priority bottlenecks for improving WASH programming in The Gambia, as well as an effective theory of change for the sector.
The final outcomes will be compiled and validated, before further sharing with stakeholders for advocacy. National, regional and local authorities will also be fully engaged to ensure the effective implementation of the emerging recommendations and action plan, as agreed upon by participants at the workshop.
The WASH Bottleneck Analysis Workshop and its consequent activities are expected make a significant and positive change in the WASH sector for children in The Gambia, as envisaged by UNICEF and partners.
Source: UNICEF Gambia, 6 October 2016