Eritrea commits to providing access to clean water and sanitation for all

At regional meeting for finance ministers

UNICEF Eritrea
08 November 2020
Group photo
UNICEF Eritrea/2020/Giri
Hon. Minster and Director Generals, along with UNICEF Deputy Representative and UNICEF staff, who attended the regional finance ministers meeting organized by the Sanitation and Water for All Committee on 4 November.
Minister for Land Water and Environment expresses commitment to implementing climate resilient One WASH Strategy and Investment Plan to work towards meeting Sustainable Development Goals on water and sanitation for all by 2030.

Eritrea’s Minister for Land and Water Resources , H.E. Mr. Tesfai Ghebreslassie, participated in the High-Level Finance Ministers’ Meeting for the Africa region, which was organized virtually by the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) Committee on 4 November. This is the second year that Eritrea has participated in the Global SWA meeting, which was organized by global partners – UNICEF and the World Bank, as well as key regional partners for the Africa region including the African Development Bank and the African Ministers’ Council on Water.

This year’s virtual global meeting was addressed by UNICEF Executive Director, Ms. Henrietta Fore, WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Mr. Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia. Other keynote speakers included Managing Director of the World Bank, Ms. Mari Elka Pangestu, Vice-President of the African Development Bank, Ms Wambui Gichuri and UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Mr. Omar Abdi.

More than 43 ministers from 30 different countries in Africa attended the meeting. This high-level finance minister meeting seeks to encourage countries to increase investment in Sanitation and Water for All as a no regret investment that is critical to combat epidemics such as the ongoing COVID-19, improve the livelihoods, health and well-being of more than 400 million people in Africa as such it makes good economic and political argument. 

Eritrea was represented by H.E. Mr. Tesfai Ghebreslassie, Minister of Land, Water and Environment along with Director Generals from the Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and the Water Resources Department. UNICEF Eritrea was represented by UNICEF Deputy Representative Ms. Shaya Asindua, UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Manager, Mr. David Tsetse, National WASH Sector Consultant, Prof. Tesfay Haile, and other members of the WASH team.

H.E. Mr. Tesfai Ghebreslassie, Minister of Land, Water and Environment
UNICEF Eritrea/2020/Giri
H.E. Mr. Tesfai Ghebreslassie, Minister of Land, Water and Environment, provided an overview of the water and sanitation related achievements made by Eritrea to date.

“Eritrea has made substantial progress in providing water and sanitation for its people and to date more than 54 per cent of communities have achieved open defecation free status, while more than 50 per cent of schools and health facilities have WASH services.”

– Minister Ghebreslassie

Hon. Minister Ghebreslassie also expressed the government’s commitment to implementing the One WASH Strategy and Investment Plan, as one of its top national priorities, to ensure the availability of adequate WASH  services to all its citizens by 2030.

UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Land and Water Resources, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Education delivered the One WASH Strategy and Investment Plan which seeks to bolster the government’s vision of providing access to clean water and basic sanitation and to end open defecation in Eritrea.

“The government is taking a proactive lead and Eritrea has made substantial progress through the development of a climate resilient One WASH strategy and Investment Plan, National Roadmap to declare the country open defaecation free by 2022, and has currently embarked on developing a comprehensive national WASH inventory to improve evidence generation and monitoring,” says Mr. David Tsetse, UNICEF’s WASH Manager.

A girl collects water
UNICEF Eritrea/2019/Tadese
A young girl at a water point in Anseba region.

Globally every year, USD 260 billion worth of productivity is lost due to inaction and lack of investment on sanitation and sanitation. The high-level finance ministers meeting seeks to encourage governments to invest in water and sanitation as that will decrease disease burden, increase productivity and improve overall development of countries.

UNICEF has been a steady partner to the Government of the State of Eritrea since 1992, working to build and rehabilitate water supply systems, including solar powered systems that provide clean drinking water for affected populations and working with a wide array of partners to promote positive behaviour change and to adopt safe hygiene practices, which reduce incidences of disease and prevent common childhood illnesses like diarrhoea and helps to bolster gains in child nutrition.

“This high-level participation by the Minister and the Director Generals shows the government’s commitment to ensuring that all implementing partners are working with their regional and sub-regional partners to galvanize the movement for sanitation for all and to try and meet all water and sanitation related goals by 2030,” says Shaya Asindua, UNICEF Deputy Representative.