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Malawi’s Nkhotakota District Council has made a declaration to work towards declaring the district open-defecation free by mid-2017. The decision was made after the Global Sanitation Fund in Malawi attended the 4th Africa Conference on Sanitation and Hygiene Conference in Dakar, Senegal. During the conference, a declaration to have Africa declared open-defecation free by 2030 was signed and – as a result of this - the Malawi team decided to have communities where the Global Sanitation Fund programme is being implemented declared ODF. Plan Malawi, the Executing Agency for the national GSF programme, organized a meeting in Nkhotakota to share lessons learnt from the AfricaSan 4 Conference and to motivate district teams to track progress and to plan towards declaring the district ODF.
Speaking during the meeting, Emma Mbalame, Deputy Director of Water Supply Services in the Malawi government, informed participants about the declaration signed by ministers from all African countries. The Ngor Declaration stipulates, among other issues, a focus on marginalized groups to ensure that sanitation services are available to all. It also underlines the importance of resource mobilization by governments to ensure that all development funds also support sanitation services. Strengthening leadership, the private sector and the engagement of the local leaders, religious groups, institutions and civil societies are two other central pillars of the declaration.
As one of Plan Malawi’s AfricaSan 4 delegates, Traditional Authority (TA) Mwadzama spoke about what he learnt during WSSCC’s field visit in Senegal, motivating other TAs to work towards achieving an open-defecation free status in their communities. Mwadzama’s district community was declared open-defecation free by the district coordinating team and now awaits full certification by the national ODF task team. Mwadzama highlighted the efforts he has made on the ground to have his village declared ODF: “After the Hygiene Village Project came to my area, I was interested to support the project and ensure that all my area is well covered in terms of sanitation. I have followed up on lagging villages, just to ensure that his whole area is open-defecation free”.
The district team also discussed important steps that need to be taken to have the entire district of Nkhotakota declared ODF by 2017. The Nkhotakota District Council agreed to continue stimulating other Traditional Authorities to take full charge of sanitation programmes in their communities. Ward councilors will also be engaged in working closely with community leaders to prioritize sanitation in community intervention programmes.
During the meeting, the Nkhotakota District Environmental Health Officer reported that Nkhotakota is well committed to ensure that it will be declared ODF by 2017: “We already have a number of organizations who are working hard on the ground to improve the sanitation situation of the districts and hence the efforts can be increased to have the whole district declared ODF.”
In his remarks, Plan Malawi’s GSF Chief of Party Amsalu Negussie said he was grateful that AfricaSan is now also being turned into “Nkhotakota San” and that the meeting was not just to share the lessons from the conference, but also to amend plans to have the district declared ODF by 2017.