In Memoriam: Kofi Annan

Date: 22nd August 2018

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WSSCC joins the world in expressing its deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Mr. Annan’s recent passing brought his life and legacy in focus and elicited a global outpouring of respect and appreciation for him, and his work, on social media, traditional media, from many in the United Nations system, and in personal reflection.

As Secretary-General, and more recently as Chairman of the Board of the Kofi Annan Foundation, Mr. Annan consistently expressed support for achieving universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene. As recently as 7 April 2017, World Health Day, he wrote, “We shall not defeat any of the infectious diseases that plague the developing world until we have also won the battle for safe drinking water, sanitation, and basic health care.”

WSSCC and those around the world working daily on these issues appreciated his high-profile endorsement for the importance of water and sanitation and their crucial roles for peoples’ health and development.

“Kofi Annan worked tirelessly throughout his life for a sustainable world where the rights and dignity of all people were safeguarded,” said Mr. Rolf Luyendijk, WSSCC’s Executive Director. “He was a champion for clean water and sanitation, and the entire WSSCC family offers its deepest condolences.”

WSSCC’s relationship to Mr. Annan and his wife Nane extends through the years. As recently as April 2017, Mr. Annan and his wife were special guests at a reception in Geneva hosted by WSSCC in honour of the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, who also served as Chair of the Council from April 2016 to April 2017.

In the early 2000s, thanks to the tireless advocacy of Mr. and Mrs. Annan, sanitation gained a higher profile on the international development agenda through its inclusion in the Millennium Development Goals and, later, the Sustainable Development Goals.

Whether through his regular participation in World Water Day, such as in 2002, or her support to WSSCC efforts to mobilise women leaders and make ‘sanitation a big issue’, Mr. and Mrs. Annan were at the vanguard of WASH efforts.

Perhaps his contribution is best expressed by former WSSCC Chair Anna Tibaijuka, during a 2011 global forum on sanitation and hygiene hosted by WSSCC in India.

Describing the Ghanaian-born Annan as an astounding and inspiring person, she said: “Imagine the world without Kofi Annan – that would be a world without the Millennium Development Goals, including the sanitation target that brings all of us here in Mumbai.”

The world may no longer have Kofi Annan, but his life and legacy will continue to inspire us all.

 

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