A United Nations human rights expert has warned that millions of Senegalese
remain “condemned to very unhealthy living conditions” until the West African
country’s Government significantly increases spending on ensuring major
improvements to water and sanitation facilities.
“The Senegalese Government has repeatedly stated that sanitation for all is a
national priority. However, these promises have not been translated in
sufficient budget allocations,” said
Catarina de Albuquerque, the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe
drinking water and sanitation, in a statement at the end of an eight-day visit.
“As resources are scarce, public investments in water and sanitation must
prioritize those who need the most first,” she added.
Noting that poor communities in Dakar, the capital, bore higher costs for access
to clean water than richer households, Ms. de Albuquerque called the situation
“Under no circumstances should those living in poverty have these fundamental
rights denied because they cannot pay or because they cannot present the
necessary documentation to benefit from these essential services,” she argued.
Ms. de Albuquerque stressed, however that, better sanitation conditions would
not be achieved by the construction of latrines and sanitary tanks alone. On top
of those initiatives, she urged the promotion of improved hygiene practices to
communities at large.
The Special Rapporteur pointed out that while Senegal’s water network obtained
coverage rates of 87 per cent in 2010, increased water access would have “little
meaning” if the quality of the water offered was not adequate for consumption.
She emphasized the need for the creation of a transparent regulatory agency to
monitor the activity of Senegal’s public-private waterworks, calling it a
“crucial step” in ensuring the safety and accessibility of water and sanitation
According to last year’s global annual assessment of sanitation and drinking by
UN agencies, 95 per cent of countries reported that current funding was not
enough to provide access to half of those without toilets.
Ms. De Albuquerque has been Special Rapporteur since September 2008 and works in
an independent and unpaid capacity. She reports to the Human Rights Council in