Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
Less than half of the population does not have access to safe drinking water and 55 per cent of Malians do not have access to a latrine or toilet. These are contributing factors to the high number of children who die from preventable disease, such as diarrhoea. As they become older, lack of water and poor sanitation continues to be one of the main trials, particularly for girls. They are saddled with the arduous task of fetching water and may even have to miss school for household chores. Also parents are wary about sending their girls to school, which do not have separate latrines for their privacy.
The Mali-UNICEF country programme works with national and international partners to ensure provision and sustainable management of safe water supplies and sanitation in communities, particularly in schools, health centres and for those living in remote, poor rural areas. Promoting hygiene education in all schools throughout the country, as well as in the communities, is a priority for the programme.
Investing in sanitation is one of the most efficient investments for poverty reduction, as well as child survival. UNICEF Mali places a special emphasis on supporting improved sanitation in Mali as the country is currently not on track to meet the MDGs for sanitation.
Key initiatives and advocacy include:
Following the guidelines given by the e-Thekwini declaration of AfricaSan 2008, the Mali-UNICEF country programme supports the emergence of the Ministry of Environment and Sanitation (and its National Directorate of Sanitation) as the principal, accountable institution to take clear leadership of the national sanitation portfolio.
UNICEF Mali provides technical support to the National Directorate of Sanitation (i) to regularly consult and coordinate with main stakeholders engaged in sanitation projects and (ii) to monitor the sanitation projects implemented by these stakeholders.
The challenge is then to provide continuous support to the National Directorate of Sanitation (capacity building, achieving consistent results) to strengthen its leadership and promote sanitation initiatives throughout government and with non-governmental partners.