Minister Nankhumwa opens National Sanitation Conference, highlights grim sanitation statistics

Malawi is experiencing a number of challenges in the sanitation sub sector, including solid waste management, faecal sludge management and sector regulation, which require a holistic and multi-sectoral approach to manage and deal with, Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa has said.

Nnakhumwa: Opened the National Sanitation Conference at Crossroads Hotel

He made the observation when he officially opened the National Sanitation Conference at Crossroads Hotel, Lilongwe, on Thursday, November 28 2019 whose theme of is “Scaling Up Access to Improved Sanitation”.

Nankhumwa noted that sub-themes of conference provide all stakeholders and participants with an opportunity to share experiences and solutions to address some of these challenges.

The conference’s main objective is to provide a forum for stakeholders to share experiences and generate innovations and solutions on how to scale up access to safely managed sanitation services.

Nankhumwa said the conference has come at the right time as the sector is in the process of reviewing both the National Water Policy (2005) and National Sanitation Policy (2008).

“It is my hope that from the deliberations that will take place, concrete outputs will be drawn that will also feed into the policy review processes. It is also my hope that after the conference, the sector will have a set of agreed key resolutions and undertakings assigned to the various stakeholders present today and that these will be evaluated and assessed during the next sanitation conference,” said Nankhumwa.

According to the minister, one of the specific objectives for the National Sanitation Policy (section 3.1.2) is to establish mechanisms at national level to bring about effective integrated multi-sectoral planning, coordination, and implementation of sanitation and hygiene promotion.

“Among the key interventions to achieving this specific objective is promoting regular sanitation forums. This conference, therefore, is indeed supporting the implementation of the national sanitation policy,” he said.

Nankhumwa, who is also Leader of Government Business in Malawi Parliament, said recent statistics indicate that access to safely managed sanitation facilities in the country is at around 10 percent and that the percentage of the population using improved sanitation facilities including sharing is at 39 percent (34 for rural areas and 58 percent in urban areas).

He noted that in the rural areas, the percentage, which is connected to sewer lines is less than one percent whereas in the urban areas is at 8 percent (JMP 2019).

“To date, only 115 of 263 Traditional Authorities have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) representing 43 percent of the traditional authorities.  According to sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6.2 targets, the country is required to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene ‘for all’ and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations by 2030.

“There is therefore need to find means of how we can accelerate the progress towards achieving this SGD target and I believe this conference will provide us with the solutions,” he said.

He thanked Water Services Association of Malawi, Water and Environment Sanitation Network, Malawi Environmental Health Association, the Water Boards, NGOs, development partners, among others for their contribution towards making the conference a reality.

While wishing participants, who included international sanitation experts,a fruitful and successful conference, Nankhumwa reminded them that what is important is not only the discussions but implementation of the agreed actions from this conference.

“I believe that this is just the beginning, and that in our next conference, we shall present the progress on the agreed actions and undertakings from this conference,” he concluded.

Other key speakers included Engineer Peter Njaggah from Kenya who spoke about Regional Regulatory Framework on Sanitation and South African Nompumelelo Motsa of the Sanitation and Water for All who spoke on ‘Mutual Accountability’.

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