World Bank Supports Access to Sanitation Services through Pilot Approaches in Douala and in the Far North Region

June 23, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC, June 23, 2011 The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank approved today a US$30 million to provide access to sanitation services through pilot approaches in Douala and in the Far North Region.

Mr./Ms. John/Jane Doe, Assistant Mayor at Douala City Hall, indicated that "Sanitation and hygiene are efficient life savers. They help people not getting sick and reduce the changes of epidemics, such as cholera. It is cheaper to avoid illness than to cure it."

Access to sanitation in Cameroon is low, and access to sewerage is virtually non-existent. In rural areas, one in five people do not have any kind of toilet. The World Health Organization estimates that lack of water, sanitation, and hygiene accounts for 13.4 percent of the burden of disease in Cameroon. Recent cholera outbreaks in various parts of Cameroon have been related to poor sanitation.

The project will support cheap and safe technologies, such as latrines and small diameter condominial sewerage. This will ensure that a large number of people can benefit from health gains. Studies in other African countries show that access to clean basic toilets can reduce diarrhea by a third. Hygiene promotion will use modern communications techniques to convince people to wash their hands and clean their toilets regularly. Hand washing with soap can reduce diarrhea by up to 45 percent, according to a recent study in Ghana.

Ms. Meike van Ginneken, project team leader at the World Bank, emphasized that "The Cameroon Sanitation Program will subsidize toilets for households, schools, and clinics. It will finance large scale hygiene promotion campaigns. It will also help local governments and the central government to get professional staff and reliable financing sources to maintain public infrastructure to ensure sludge removal and hygiene promotion continue in the future. This could be an important step to ensuring all Cameroonians have the dignity of a clean toilet."

The Douala component of the project will be implemented by the Communauté Urbaine de Douala. The component will provide 190,000 people with household latrines, and will construct toilets at schools for 80,000 primary and secondary school students.

The other activities will be led by the Ministry of Energy and Water. In the Far North Region, MINEE will work with local governments to provide 400,000 people with hygiene education. 143,000 people with household latrines, and 40,000 pupils with school toilets. The project will also finance technical assistance for planning at the national and local level as well as the development of sanitation master plans for selected cities and technical studies to be financed by the government, other donors, or a possible second phase of the project.

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