The President made the remarks as he and the First Lady hosted over 800 delegates, who attended the just concluded Africa Sanitation and Hygiene Conference (AfricaSan 3), to a Dinner Gala where he noted that Africa needs to seek affordable and accessible solutions for higher standards of hygiene.
“I believe the MDGs including sanitation are within Africa’s reach, and ultimately, in our best interest. After all, we recognize that, our goals particularly with regards to sanitation are not really new but restatement of what Africans have always held to be the right values,” the President said.
Kagame added that although evidence shows that many countries are behind schedule regarding the attainment of the MDGs within the agreed time, much can be achieved if nations owned up their processes and provided solutions.
He noted that; “We all know that no one should constantly be teaching us the value of washing hands or waste disposal. Even the connection between access to water, good hygienic habits and improved health is well known.”
President Kagame pointed out that those who occupy public offices understand well the cost implications of poor sanitation.
“We all know that, diarrhoea is the number two killer of children under five, we also know that the number of Africans without access to sanitation has increased by 190million from 1990 to 2008.”
Kagame observed that what Africa needs is continued investment in sanitation infrastructures, as well as behavioural change and the adoption and implementation of policies that reflect values regarding sanitation.
“We should be able to start sanitation initiatives like the provision of clean water, availability of toilets, clean and tidy neighbourhoods without having to wait for outside support,” he said.
The President told the delegates that Rwanda’s cleanliness started with the Rwandan people challenging themselves, wondering whether the nation needed donor support to clean their hands and homesteads.
“These are issues based on local realities and can only be sustainable if solutions come from the people who benefit from them. While we acknowledge the support from different partners, the responsibility for answers to our problems must come from, and be formed by us,” the President said.
“With only four years to the deadline of MDGs, sanitation levels are still low in many of our countries, we still have a lot of work to harmonise our action plans.”
President Kagame who, at the beginning of the conference, received an award for his government’s exemplary leadership in ensuring sanitation, dedicated the award to the Rwandan people.
He told the delegates that he shares the award with the entire Rwandan people in recognition of their collective commitment and participation to raise the quality of life through better sanitation and hygiene.
South African music legend, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, applauded Rwanda’s leadership for their commitment to save lives.
“When you have the political will and a leader walking the talk, then everything is easy to achieve,” she said, adding that Private Public Partnership is the way to go if Africa is to achieve the MDGs.