Nkhotakota District in the Central Region and Balaka in the South have set deadlines to achieve full Open Defecation Free (ODF) status following inspiration their local leaders got from Africa San Conference in Senegal.
The leaders were part of a Malawi Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) team that travelled to the West African country recently.
Following two separate meetings in the two districts, Nkhotakota District Council decided to work towards making the district ODF by mid-2017 whereas Balaka wants to achieve the same feat by December 2016.
Plan Malawi, the Executing Agency for the GSF programme, organised the meetings in the two districts to share lessons learnt from the Africa San Conference to motivate the district teams to fast-track progress and to plan towards declaring the districts ODF.
Plan Malawi Country Director, Lily Omondi, said during the Balaka conference that a declaration to have Africa ODF by 2030 was signed and, based on this, the Malawi team decided to declare as ODF districts where GSF is working.
“I am excited with the enthusiasm that traditional leaders have shown to ensure that they achieve ODF for the districts. As a child rights organisation, we are sure that this will lead to the end or reduction of waterborne diseases for children which is a foundation on which to build a healthy nation,” she said.
Director of Water Supply and Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Emma Mbalame, who led the Malawi delegation to Senegal, said during the two meetings that the Africa San Declaration called NGOR, stipulates among other issues, the focus on the marginalised group of people to ensure that sanitation services are available to all.
“The meeting also made a commitment that governments will mobilise resources to ensure that all developmental funds are also supporting sanitation services,” said Mbalame, who is also chairperson of the Programme Coordinating Mechanism.
She said they are now involving local leaders because the meeting also observed that strengthening traditional leadership and the private sector as well as engaging religious groups, institutions and the civil societies were among commitments ministers signed for in the declaration.
One of the Malawi delegates to the Senegal meeting, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mwadzama of Nkhotakota spoke at both the Nkhotakota and Balaka meetings, saying he learnt a lot during the Senegal visit.
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