Gentlemen of the press,

You are all aware that the Government of Senegal took up the responsibility of hosting the 4th AfricaSan conference in Dakar from October 8-10, 2014. Since then, they have been working with the Secretariat of the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) and several partners to make sure that we have one of the best AfricaSan conferences leading up to the Millennium Development Goals end date.

Unfortunately, the West African sub region has been hit with a major health challenge, the Ebola crisis which was reported first in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. While efforts were undergoing to contain the deadly virus in these countries, it unfortunately continued to spread to more countries, including Nigeria and now to Senegal where one case was recently diagnosed.

Given the enormity of this health challenge which the international community has recognized as a global challenge, we have consulted with the Government of Senegal, and I have equally consulted with some colleague AMCOW Ministers, our partners and co-conveners on what to do concerning the upcoming AfricaSan 4 in Dakar in October 2014. Having considered the need to take proactive actions aimed at reducing the chances of the continued spread of Ebola, and in consideration of the travel ban and advice which certain countries have placed on some of the worst affected West African countries, we have decided to postpone the convening of the 4th AfricaSan conference to May 2015. We have taken into account the advice from the World Health Organization that we may need up to six months to effectively contain the Ebola epidemic. We are optimistic that by that time, the Ebola crisis would have brought under control.

Let me reiterate that we took this decision out of a sense of responsibility that we do not inadvertently create an environment that has potentials to continue the Ebola spread. We also want to ensure that no country is left out from participating in this important conference which we need to convene to discuss how to make sanitation for all a reality in Africa as we march beyond 2015.

I thank our sponsors, supporting partners and co-conveners, especially the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, the European Commission, to mention but a few, for their continued commitment to the cause of AfricaSan. We urge you to not to stop the preparatory processes for the AfricaSan 4 but to continue the country monitoring programme and conference preparations.

I thank you for listening and we will continue to give you updates leading to the new scheduled date for the conference. Thank you.