Halfway through the 2015 deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, African countries stand to miss the sanitation target unless the region doubles its existing efforts to increase the population’s access to basic sanitation.
“With eight years to go, it is clear that most African countries are unlikely to reach their Sanitation MDG targets unless approaches to sanitation change,” African Development Bank Secretary General Kordje Bedoumra told participants to the Africa Sanitation Conference last February in Durban, South Africa.
Bedoumra, who served as the very first director of the African Water Facility and later as the director of the bank’s water and sanitation department, discussed the findings of a study conducted by the African Ministers’ Council on Water at the said conference. The report noted that the region must double the number of persons assisted from 350 million to 700 million by 2015 to meet the MDG on water and sanitation.
“Sanitation is a key building block for health, the environment, education and gender equality,” he stressed. “Improved sanitation offers a clear route to poverty reduction and the population’s improved health status.”
Bedoumra attributed the sluggish advancement of the sanitation MDG to the strategy of appointing local authorities, who did not have sufficient funding to primarily carry out sanitation programs.
Extreme poverty, poor sanitation education, rapid urbanization, population growth, and the rise of informal settlements also contributed to the failure to meet the sanitation target.
Working at the bank for more than 25 years, Bedoumra navigated several areas including transport, power, water and sanitation, telecommunications and finance before assuming the post of secretary general. He previously served as the bank’s director for infrastructure department and as division chief for infrastructure and industry.
Bedoumra, a father of three, worked as an engineer at the Posts and Telecommunications Authority in Chad and as a consultant in a private Ivorian consultancy firm before joining AfDB.
He holds a degree in civil engineering from Ecole Nationale Supéeure des Técommunications (Sup técom) de Paris and a master’s degree in electronics, electrotechnique and automation from the Faculty of Science at Toulouse’s Universitéaul Sabatier in France.