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69% of Gambians say gov’t is doing badly on water provision – Afrobarometer

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By Omar Bah

More than 6 in 10 Gambians (69%) say the government is doing “fairly badly” or “very badly” in providing water and sanitation services, while only 30% offer positive assessments, the latest Afrobarometer survey revealed.

A recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) report, released in July 2019, found that 73.2% of the country’s 2.2 million population had E. coli in household drinking water. MICS is a multi-purpose household survey conducted by the Gambia Bureau of Statistics with technical support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). It takes water samples from both pipe-borne water sources and open wells across the country. The survey found that remnants and by-products of faeces from humans and some animals are the main sources of E. coli in household water.

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According to Afrobarometer findings, based on 53,444 face-to-face interviews in 39 African countries, water supply and sanitation remain major challenges in most African countries, especially for rural populations and poor households.

Water supply ranks fourth among the most important problems that Africans want their government to address. More than half of citizens report that their household went without enough clean water for home use at least once during the year preceding the survey, including about a quarter who say this happened “many times” or “always.”

On average, across 39 countries, a majority of citizens (61%) say their government is doing “fairly badly” or “very badly” on providing water and sanitation services, while only 38% offer positive assessments.

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According to the survey, nearly six in 10 Africans (56%) say their household experienced a shortage of clean water during the previous year, including 24% who say this happened “many times” or “always.”.

They added that frequent water shortages were more common in rural areas (29%) than in cities (20%).

“Water supply is of particular concern among rural residents and the poor, who suffer major disadvantages on all indicators of access to clean water and sanitation, and fewer than one-third (31%) of surveyed enumeration areas (EAs) have sewage systems,” the report added.

One-third (34%) of respondents, the report added, have a toilet in the home, while another 39% have facilities outside their dwelling but within their compound, while one in five (19%) rely on toilets outside their compound, and 8% say they have no access to toilets or latrines.

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