By Tione Andsen
Lilongwe, October 14, Mana: Water Aid has challenged governments in Southern Africa region to view sanitation and hygiene a priority by increasing budgetary allocations towards the sector.
Water Aid Regional Director for Southern Africa, Robert Kampala said this Wednesday during Southern Africa Regional Senior Editor’s Webinar meeting on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).
He noted that most governments in the region are providing low budgetary allocations to the sector despite their commitments to increase it.
“Stakeholders in the sector and the media need to remind their governments through several channels for them to appreciate that the provision of quality sanitation and hygiene remains a fundamental human right to every citizen in their countries,” Kampala stated.
The Director said Malawi has about 18 million people; 13.8 million of them don’t have access to a decent toilet.
He said more than 3,000 children die every year due to dirty water and poor sanitation.
Kampala added that in Zambia the inequality gap was widening, 6.8 million people still do not have access to water.
He said this is almost half of the population of the country yet in recent budget announcement for 2021; the WASH budget was reduced by 17 percent.
“The country is faced with Covid-19 crisis and cholera outbreaks which are perennial problem,” the Director noted.
Kampala said Covid-19 has exposed a lot of sanitation and hygiene challenges which need urgent attention in order to address them.
“Provision of clean water a lot has not meaning if communities are not encouraging to wash their hands with soap. Hand hygiene remains critical to every society and public health issue,” he explained.
The Director said Covid-19 measures have hand washing with soap as an integral part in the fight against the pandemic and provision of clean water to communities critical to governments.
Water Aid Country Representative for Zambia, Pamela Chisanga said access to clean water still remains a challenge to most countries in the region.
She said sanitation and hygiene need to feature highly in the region as one way fighting Covid-19 and encouraging communities to observe.
“We are faced with the challenges of Covid-19, sanitation and hygiene issues need to be addressed at all cost with the provision of necessary support,” Chisanga observed.
President of WASH Editor Forum in Southern Africa Region, Raphael Mweninguwe said governments within the region they don’t prioritize issues of sanitation and hygiene in their budgeting processes.
He said they view sanitation and hygiene as personal thing where individuals need to act on personal basis. Global Hand washing Day falls on October 15 every year.