YVE: 45.3% of Gambia’s population relies on contaminated water sources with presence of e-coli

May 16, 2022, 11:44 AM | Article By: By Sulayman Waan

With back-up from UNICEF-Gambia Water Sanitation and Hygienic survey, Young Volunteers for the Environment-The Gambia (YVE), an environmental civil organisation, said 45.3 percent of the Gambian population relies on contaminated water sources with presence of e-coli bacteria for survival.

In a press statement shared with this medium, Joe Bongay, executive director of YVE added: “The presence of e-coli in water causes abdominal cramp, diarrhea, urinary tract infections and pneumonia, among other illnesses. It can even kill young children and the elderly.”

According to the Demographic and Health Survey 2019 – 2020, the most common sources of drinking water in urban households are water piped into the household’s dwelling, yard, or plot (61%) and water piped to a neighbour (16%). 

It added “rural households obtain their drinking water mainly from a public tap or standpipe (55%) or tube well or borehole (19%).”

Meanwhile, Bongay said: “Lacking access to this basic need means people are deprived of an equal chance to be healthy, educated, improve livelihoods and be financially secure.

“Women, girls, people living with disabilities and other vulnerable groups are especially at a higher risk of bearing the brunt of a lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and services.”

 He though recognised The Gambia government's hard strive on the WASH components, such as supplying improved water for over 90% of the population and reducing open defecation to less than 1%.

He said: “Clean and quality, accessible water for all are fundamental human rights that all peoples should enjoy to provide them the highest attainable standard of health everywhere.”

On 18th-19th May 2022, a delegation of government officials, ministers, civil society and development partners would leave for Jakarta, Indonesia to attend the Sector Ministers Meeting (SMM) 2022 where water, sanitation, hygiene and climate change issues would be discussed.

The Sector Ministers Meeting recognises the important role for countries’ MDA to be represented at their Ministries, Department and Agency’s highest level and the importance of the political leadership of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Water Resources, Environment and Finance around these topics. 

YVE-The Gambia, therefore encouraged the minister and entire Gambian delegation to take advantage and participate well in this high-level meeting.

 The YVE head further recommended the government to prioritise increase in budget and investments in water, sanitation, and hygiene in integrated crisis recovery strategies, focusing on the climate, the economy and public health.

“Investments in the provision of resilient water services can provide up to 21 times more value than expenditures, and are a necessary step towards universal, safely managed, climate-resilient and inclusive access to water, sanitation, and hygiene, he said.

He also recommended to the government to review aligning WASH/health policies with climate commitments so that it is reflected in national emissions-reducing and adaptation plan known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs)].

 He said the government should set objectives and targets as well develop strategies and activities that will promote and protect WASH rights and services in The Gambia.

“The minister should ensure active and meaningful participation of all affected groups in connection with decisions that affect them, considering the values of non-discrimination and equality as reflected in international human rights law.

Moving on, he called for a framework and policies review to guarantee good governance processes to undertake early measures to curb corruption and strengthen integrity in innovative financing mechanisms like climate finance.