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This week, the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene of the Government of Madagascar welcomed the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) Steering Committee, which includes international donors and sanitation experts. WSSCC is a Geneva-based United Nations body that aims at improving access to water and sanitation for the world’s 2.5 billion people who lack access to sanitation and 748 million people who cannot enjoy drinking water. Madagascar is one of the main recipient countries of financing from the Global Sanitation Fund, which is WSSCC's funding mechanism. The GSF programme in Madagascar is called "Fonds d’Appui pour l’Assainissement (FAA)".
The WSSCC Steering Committee holds two annual meetings, one at Geneva-based headquarters, and a second one in a GSF-supported country. This year, Madagascar was chosen to welcome the Steering Committee meeting on the basis of the strong outcomes that were achieved so far through FAA Programme. Madagascar has made tremendous progress in ensuring access to basic sanitation for the rural population of the country since 2010, by the introduction and scaling-up of the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach. Nearly 1.4 million people now live in villages that are free of open defecation, accounting for over 10,900 communities throughout the country. Madagascar is one of the best examples of how a local initiative can lead to collective, transformative change for an entire country.
Despite these encouraging results and advances, much remains to be done if the vision of "Madagascar, a model country free of open-defecation" is to be achieved. In this regard, an institutional triggering session took place on 27 March 2015, at Colbert Hotel, in the presence of the President, the Prime Minister, the Grand Chancellor and several Ministers as well as WSSCC Steering Committee members, representatives of Technical and Financial Partners, civil society and other sectoral stakeholders. The triggering was designed to strengthen all stakeholders’ respective commitments to provision of drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, especially the eradication of open defecation. As an outcome of the triggering, the President publically committed to end open defecation by 2018 by signing a declaration. He is so far the only World Leader to have done so.
The Government of Madagascar seized the opportunity to praise Dr Chris Williams, Executive Director of WSSCC, for the efforts he makes to support Madagascar in the development of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector. Mr Hery Rajaonarimampianina, President of the Republic of Madagascar, was also given the title of "WASH sector champion". This special distinction is awarded by WSSCC to Government leaders for their commitment to the WASH sector.