The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has urged government to minimise fiscal slippages and tackle corruption in the water sector to address poor sanitation, unsafe water and unhygienic practices.
This follows a study that shows that poor sanitation, unsafe water and unhygienic practices account for nearly 3,000 deaths of under-five children annually in the country.
The study also says approximately 30 percent of the water points in Malawi are not functional at any point in time, while around 50 percent of the water points in some districts are permanently not working.
Unicef has, therefore, asked government to strengthen monitoring of programme-based budgets, timely reporting and accountability by ministries and government departments to ensure government gets the most from the available resources.
“Government should also closely monitor budget execution to minimise fiscal slippages and corruption. Unicef is concerned that budget execution challenges persist such as delayed transfers and payments, leakages of drugs and other commodities and low asset utilisation in part because of low ORT (other recurrent transactions) budgets,” says the report.
The report adds that while water development and supply take up nearly all Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector resources; there is no specific budget line for sanitation and hygiene.
Unicef Chief of Social Policy, Edward Archibald, requested government to create a separate budget line on sanitation and hygiene at central level, in line with the 2008 eThekwini Declaration, which commits African Governments to create a specific budget line for sanitation and allocate at least 0.5 percent of the national budget to sanitation.
“Unicef recommends increase in allocation to district councils for other recurrent transactions (ORT) for Wash from K187 million in 2017/18 to at least K252 million in 2018/19 financial year,” Archibald said.
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