Thursday, 31 March 2011

WASH Botswana

IPS reports that Gaborone is getting a massive sanitation make-over with a full-scale upgrade and expansion of sewerage and water systems to the tune of US $150 million. The investment will not only improve the quality of life, particularly in the lower-income areas of the city, but also prevent diseases, improve health and reduce the amount of time people have to spent dealing with these issues on a daily basis.

This is awesome. There is still room for more improvement, with some questions remaining about the cost of connecting to the mains, but it is a significant step forward to basic, basic service delivery. And one which so often seems unobtainable for African governments. Water and sanitation are fundamental. So is food. And shelter.

There has been a wide-spread focus in the aid world for the past couple of decades on higher-level things like education. This has led, unintentionally, to a weird inversion of expectations and priorities, so that many local governments now worry about important but much less immediate things (like disability access to the natural forest area), at the expense of providing the basics. Great to see Bots/Gabs paying attention, particularly to WASH, which has such a crucial disease prevention role.

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