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With adequate investment, the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for safe water in Mozambique can be reached, says Dr. Sam Godfrey of UNICEF Mozambique

Dr. Sam Godfrey of UNICEF
© UNICEF Mozambique
According to Dr. Sam Godfrey of UNICEF it is necessary to ensure continued financial investment, human capacity development and social mobilization in order to reach the MDG target for safe water.

MAPUTO, Mozambique, 20 June 2011 – Dr. Sam Godfrey is the Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) at UNICEF Mozambique. Sam is British and has a PhD in Civil Engineering. He has worked for UNICEF and international NGOs on both urban and rural water supply and water resources programmes in Angola, Zimbabwe, Uganda and India. Prior to joining UNICEF, he was a lecturer for 5 years at the UK Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC), where he worked closely with WHO/UNICEF and a number of engineering consultancy companies on projects in Africa, East and South Asia.

How is Mozambique doing in the area of safe drinking water?
In Mozambique, less than half the population has access to safe drinking water, and while this number covers both urban and rural areas, the need is greatest in rural areas, where only 29 per cent of people have access to a safe water source. In order for the MDG target for safe water to be reached in Mozambique, an estimated 3.8 million more people will need to be provided with safe water before 2015. With adequate investment, which amounts to about US$ 40 million per year through 2015, this is an MDG target that can be reached.

Why is safe drinking water important?
Water is essential for human development and for the development of a country. It affects agricultural production, food security, nutrition, diarrheal disease and other water borne diseases and also serves as a starting point for providing safe practices in health centers and schools.

What is UNICEF’s role in the area of safe water?
In Mozambique, it is the Government that leads in the provision of safe water. Safe water is an area where UNICEF has extensive experience and something to contribute on the technical and project management side, especially when we talk about large-scale implementation of rural water projects. Through the One Million initiative, which is co-funded by the Government of the Netherlands, UNICEF and the Government of Mozambique and covers the three central provinces of Sofala, Manica and Tete, UNICEF has helped create a successful model that can be scaled up in other parts of the country. Through this project, more than a million people will be provided with safe water.

Why do you think the One Million initiative has been successful?
One of the key aspects of the One Million initiative is the involvement of the private sector. The program works wide a wide range of private drilling contractors, civil contractors and NGOs that help provide necessary construction and maintenance services, preventing water pumps and other equipment from falling into disrepair. Another key aspect is the community ownership of the water point, which ensures that the entire community is invested in the maintenance of their own water supply.

How do the communities gain a sense of ownership over their water points?
The Government policy is for communities have to contribute 20 per cent of the infrastructure development cost upfront, which in itself represents a firm commitment. Once the water point is in place, the community forms a water committee for each water point, whose responsibility it is to ensure that the resource is well managed. One of the key tasks of the water committee is to assign a community mechanic who will be trained to maintain and repair the hand pumps used. Together, these factors contribute to a high level of sustainability and ownership. Additionally, to ensure sustainability over time, it is also important to exercise quality control in the selection of water point construction materials. We also work to develop a harmonized approach among those who are involved in the safe water area, so as to have common standards and approaches, which in turn contribute to increased sustainability.

How can the MDG target for safe water be reached?
The most important factor is to ensure that a minimum level of investment is maintained over the coming years. The investment need is about US$ 40 million per year. One way of facilitating an effective and efficient use of funds is to set up a common fund for water infrastructure investments, but large-scale implementation capacity at the provincial level is also needed. Without this capacity, the water points cannot be constructed and managed. Mozambique is in a fortunate situation in the sense that there is full agreement on the priorities within the sector. It is also necessary to focus on continued social mobilization of communities, so that human resources are developed at the community level and so that the communities are engaged in the process. All these factors, investment, human capacity and social mobilization need to work together for the goals to be reached.  

For more information, please contact:

Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: maputo@unicef.org

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: maputo@unicef.org  

 

 

 

 

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