6th EarthWatch Conference on Water & Sanitation 2008 (Nigerian Water & Sanitation Forum) (NWSF2008)

Venue: Abuja

Location: Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria

Event Date/Time: Nov 18, 2008 End Date/Time: Nov 20, 2008
Registration Date: Nov 03, 2008
Early Registration Date: Sep 30, 2008
Abstract Submission Date: Jul 21, 2008
Paper Submission Date: Sep 05, 2008
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The International Year of Sanitation 2008 is a theme year set by the UN General Assembly in December 2006 to help put this global crisis at the forefront of the international agenda. The year was officially launched in November 2007 at New York and was launched in Africa at Durban, South Africa in February 2008.

Statistics say more than 2.6 billion people worldwide have no access to basic sanitation and more than 980 million of them are children. More than 1.2 million children die every year due to sanitation-related diseases. Diarrhoeral diseases have been known to be a deadly killer and are the second major death of children under five globally.

The situation is worse in Nigeria and West Africa. It was estimated that between the years 1990-2004 sanitation only improved by 3%. In 2004, statistics showed that about 72 million Nigerians were living without sanitation. The story is no different in other African countries with smaller populations and less affluence. It is obvious that West Africa is way off tract to making the MDGs on Sanitation.

According to a UNICEF spokesman, Michael Bociurkiw, ‘West and Central Africa ranks lowest in the world for access to improved drinking water and sanitation and that is linked, of course, to the region’s under five mortality rate which is the highest in the world’. (The Nigeria diarrhoea prevalence rate is put at 18.8%. Diarrhea is the second largest killer of children in Nigeria.)

The sanitation crisis has become a global reality and is even more so to us here in Nigeria and West Africa. Over the years, policy makers and all stakeholders have shied away from the topic of sanitation. People have talked about ‘water and sanitation’ as if they were one and the same thing. Meanwhile, water gets all the attention and sanitation is treated as a taboo because of its direct relation to excreta. Neither people nor politicians want to talk about the ‘filthy’ topic. And so, most of the resources go to improved access to safe water supply and miniature funding is made available for improved access to basic sanitation.

Considering the fact that poor sanitation is one major culprit of the contamination of water sources, and the recognition of the fact that most water-related diseases are actually sanitation-related and the fact that health professionals regard sanitation as the most important medical advance in the last 140years- SANITATION should not be a taboo and must be brought before the governments of nations and donor agencies as a very important aspect of life and development.

It was in a bid to tackle this epic crisis that prompted the UN General Assembly to declare the year 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation (IYS). And in support of this move of the UN, the EarthWatch Conference on Water & Sanitation (The Nigerian Water and Sanitation Forum) has chosen as this year’s theme ‘Financing Sanitation in Nigeria & West Africa’.
Sanitation means different things to different people, but its definition has to include 'the safe management of human excreta; usually by means of a toilet that confines faeces until they are composted and safe, or enables them to be flushed away into a sewer. In its fullest sense, as understood for the IYS, sanitation also includes environmental cleanliness, clean water, handwashing, garbage removal and wastewater disposal (WHO/UNICEF/Joint Monitoring Programme 2006).

Sanitation in its proper context is much more than toilets. Sanitation has being described as a 'system' which includes toilets, collection, transportation, treatment, use and disposal. Sanitation protection can also include options which protect people from the effects of uncontrollable poor sanitation-like drinking water treatment and personal hygiene.

The major challenge of the International Year of Sanitation will be devising ways of ensuring that more than 50% of the 2.6 billion victims gain access to improved sanitation and/or sanitation protection options. The ultimate aim is to save lives, increase productivity and economic benefits, ensure dignity and social development.

The big cog in the wheel for us in Nigeria and West Africa will be FINANCING! Where will the funds to deal with this crisis come from? How will the people be able to access these funds? Are there sanitation and sanitation protection options in the market? What will be the preferred sanitation and sanitation protection options for the people? Can sanitation be affordable to the poor? Can we get our government and donor agencies to pay more attention? Can we get local financing institutions interested in financing sanitation projects? Is there no way that the Nigerian banks (with some of them quoted in the London/New York Stock Exchange) can be involved in the financing of the projects in his sector? These and many more are some of the questions that the EarthWatch Conference on Water and Sanitation 2008 will be focusing on.

The other side of the coin is the seeming indifference and nonchalance of the Nigerian Banks to take on the challenge of providing funding for the improvement of the sector. The market is entirely open for the foreign and international banks. The local banks have the capacity to rollover and do what these other banks are doing so as to create room for local private partners. Sometimes, they could partner with these international banks to provide facility for government in the sanitation sector.

On the other hand, the issue of private partnerships and financing has not been properly synchronized in the country. Can we find a model that will be a 'unique fit' for Nigeria or does every State need its own peculiar model of private partnership?

The aim of the conference is to find answers to these questions and more and hopefully come up with a local Model for Private Partnership and Financing in the Sanitation Sector of the countries of the West African region.


Additional Information

CONFERENCE DATE November18-20, 2008 CONFERENCE LOCATION Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria. (Exact venue will be communicated at a later date). CONFERENCE FEES International Delegates (Anywhere outside WA) = $ 450.00 Regional Delegates (Anywhere in WA) = $ 250.00 National Delegates (Anywhere in Nigeria) = N15,000.00 Students will be pre-approved for free registration CONFERENCE REGISTRATION INFORMATION Deadline for Early-Bird registration is September 30, 2008. After November 3, 2008 registrations are only accepted at the Conference. Deadline for Students Application for free registration is August 29, 2008. Regional NGOs can apply for a discount.