EU and UNICEF Malawi to achieve Millennium Development Goals in Malawi
Lilongwe – 9 October 2013. In an official ceremony, the European Union and UNICEF Malawi joined forces as they signed the contribution agreement for the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme. The EUR 23.6 million programme, which consists of a EUR 17.6 million grant provided by the EU and EUR 6 million by UNICEF, aims to help Malawi achieve MDG 7c on sustainable water supply and sanitation, MDG 2a and 3 on universal education especially for girls and MDG 4 on decreasing child mortality.
Although Malawi has made notable strides towards improved sanitation and water supply, the figures remain alarming. 10% of the population still turns to the bush for defecation, while only 0.1% of mothers use soap to wash their hands before cooking, which is still the most cost effective method to avoid diarrhoea. Statistics like these make that 18% of all under five deaths in Malawi are caused by a preventable disease such as diarrhoea.
To increase the enrolment rate for girls in primary and especially in secondary school, a strong school component is implemented in the programme. Lack of appropriate sanitary facilities remains a key factor in girls dropping out.
“Not only is the project looking at increasing the coverage of improved sanitation in schools – currently around 30% - but also promoting handwashing in schools. In addition we will be introducing water, sanitation and handwashing interventions to younger children in the community based childcare centres (CBCCs). By influencing the habits of the youngest children we hope to also influence behaviour in the home, and in doing so improve general health of families, and improve school attendance.”, Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF Malawi Representative said.
As the WASH-programme is unique in that it works with Districts directly, the main implementing partners include the Ministry of Water Development and Irrigation, Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology but also the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. NGO’s are currently being selected to be implementing partners in selected technical or geographical areas.
The programme will run in 15 districts, selected according to alarming data indicating the poorest communities and lowest water and sanitation coverage. A strong component on local ownership, with support for local water committees and school parent/teacher groups, has to manage and plan for future water and sanitation resources of the communities.
Alexander Baum, EU ambassador to Malawi, expressed his belief in Malawi achieving the MDG’s, “Malawi has made impressive progress since 1990 towards water supply, and further efforts will be made in order to provide safe water for all by 2015. This programme therefore aims at providing a final boost to these on-going endeavours made by the Government and Development Partners.”