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Pan-Africa Survey Reveals Dissatisfaction With Governments' Provision Of Clean Water, Sanitation Services

ACCRA, Ghana

More than half of respondents to an extensive survey in 34 African countries say that their respective governments have failed in the provision of clean water and sanitation services. In 20 countries, a majority of respondents said that their government is doing a poor job of providing water and sanitation services.

An extensive survey, released in advance of World Water Day, conducted in 34 African countries reveals that more than 50 percent of respondents.

The Afrobarometer.org survey, released in advance of World Water Day, reveals widely variable across countries and the continent but details suggest that there has been little progress in achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 6: “availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.

Key findings include:

  • On average about half went without enough water for home use in the year preceding the survey
  • About 54 percent live in an area with piped water; only 26 percent had access to sewage systems
  • More than half have to leave their compound to access water
  • 72 percent of respondents report having a toilet or latrine inside their home or compound; 22 percent have to leave the compound; 7 percent reported having no access to a toilet or latrine
  • Two-thirds of respondents reported that it was “difficult” to get services they needed; 20 percent reported having to pay a bribe
  • Water and sanitation services rank behind unemployment and health as the most important issue for national governments to address
  • Rural residents are disadvantaged with respect to all access and supply of all water and sanitation services (but bribing is less prevalent)

From the report: “Afrobarometer is a pan-African, nonpartisan survey research network that provides reliable data on Africans’ experiences and evaluations of quality of life, governance, and democracy. Seven rounds of surveys were completed in up to 38 countries between 1999 and 2018.

A majority (54 percent) of Africans say their government is doing “fairly badly” or “very badly” at providing water and sanitation services, although this reflects a modest improvement since 2011/2013 (from 56 percent to 53 percent across 31 countries surveyed in all of the past three rounds of the exercise).

Gabonese (84 percent) and Guineans (82 percent) are most critical. Only nine countries register majority approval of government performance on water/sanitation, led by eSwatini (65 percent) and Botswana (63 percent).

Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice with nationally representative samples that yield country-level results with margins of error of +/-2 to +/-3 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

This Pan-Africa Profile draws on data from 45,823 interviews completed in 34 countries between September 2016 and September 2018. The countries covered are home to almost 80 percent of the continent’s population.

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