BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE
Over 170,000 people in Africa are already planning to take part in walks for water in 25 countries including Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi and Madagascar in the month of March this year.
It is envisaged that the walk, dubbed “the World Walks for Water”, which is being organised under the auspices of the World Walks for Water and Sanitation campaign and promises to attract more people in more countries of Africa and other parts of the world, will be the largest people power event this year, when it kicks off on Friday, March 22, 2013 designated as World Water Day by the United Nations.
The walk will be in solidarity with the millions of Africans – overwhelmingly women and children - who walk great distances each day to collect water for their basic needs and who have no safe place to go to the toilet.
During the walk, hundreds of thousands of Africans will join with people across the world to take action to call for an end to the water and sanitation crisis on the 20th anniversary of World Water Day.
Already, according to available details of some of the events already being planned, in Sierra Leone, over 2,500 people will be taking part in walks across the country, including in Freetown, to which the Minister for the recently established Ministry for Water Resources, Hon. Momodu Elongima Maligie, has been invited to attend.
In Kenya, over 300 young people will be joining a walk in Nairobi organised by the International Youth Council, whereas in Liberia, civil service organisations (CSOs) WASH Network is planning a three day sit-in and petition action at the Ministries of Health, Lands and Mines and Public Works and also planning to collect 15,000 signatures calling for promises to be kept.
Meanwhile in Ghana where over 30% of people still do not have access to potable safe drinking water and 86% do not have access to improved sanitation, 10,000 people are planning to walk, whilst 3,000 people will walk in Malawi.
To inspire the public everywhere to join the world’s largest global mass mobilisation movement for change, the World Walks for Water and Sanitation campaign have released a new film to be viewed from all across the world.
Speaking on the walk, Natasha Horsfield, a coordinator of the campaign in the United Kingdom, stated: “It’s time to tell world leaders that it’s not acceptable for 2,000 children to be dying every day because they don’t have clean drinking water or a safe place to go to the toilet.”
Currently in Sub-Saharan Africa, 330 million Africans (39% of the population) are without access to clean water, while a staggering 600 million go without safe sanitation – 70% of the population.
Further, every year 400,000 African children under the age of five die from diarrhoeal diseases brought about from a lack of these services.
The World Walks for Water and Sanitation events are part of the Keep Your Promises campaign launched by International Development charity WaterAid last year, which calls on governments to honor the commitments they have made to finance and provide access to the basic human needs of sanitation, water and hygiene.People across Africa have been called upon by the World Walks for Water and Sanitation to join the thousands of campaigners walking to demand political leaders keep their promises on sanitation and water this World Water Day.