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Fighting Poverty With Clean Water, Sanitation And Hygiene

This is World Water Week. And in Stockholm, ministers from around the world are meeting to discuss water, sanitation and hygiene. African ministers at the forum are calling for greater attention and resources to be paid to the issues as part of efforts to end poverty.

Among those attending is Mamphono Khaketla, who is Lesotho’s minister of natural resources. From Stockholm, she spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about why sanitation and hygiene are needed to end poverty.

She says, “If hygiene and sanitation don’t go together with water, then the issue of poverty becomes pretty tough. One of the things we are stressing is that the education, especially of girls, is affected by their inability to go to school on a regular basis because of lack of access to water, and sanitation and hygiene.”

It’s a major problem in Lesotho. Minister Khaketla says, “It’s very huge. If you take for example in Lesotho we have a different phenomenon from a lot of other countries where you have the problem of the girl child. We have a lot of girls in primary school. But as you go high up the hierarchy, the girls seem to drop out of school as opposed to boys. Boys go all the way up to university. So that is a big phenomenon. You find that girls really do not stay in school as long as you’d like them to.”

She says the lack of sanitation and hygiene causes problems for girls during menstruation. In relation to development, Ms. Khaketla says, “The issue of sanitation and hygiene is very important because a lot of, for example, young children die because of poor sanitation and hygiene. That is one thing. So, if healthy children are there it means there will be healthy children to go to school. Then it means most of the problems that we’re facing in terms of poverty will be alleviated because you’d have a fairly educated society. That is one way to look at it.”