Malawi is working towards achieving open defeacation free (ODF) status by 2017 through the Accelerated Sanitation and Hygiene Practices Programme (ASHPP) currently running in six districts.
Funded by the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) and with Plan Malawi as the executing agency, the programme has seven sub-grantees namely Feed the Children in Rumphi, Church and Society of the Livingstonia Synod in Rumphi and Nkhotakota, Village Hygiene Project in Nkhotakota, Training Support Programme in Balaka, World Relief in Ntchisi, Development Aid from People to People in Chikwawa and Concern Universal in Balaka and Phalombe.
GSF provided a $6.2 million grant to government to implement the ASHPP from December 2010 to 2015, but a 13-month extension was agreed on between GSF and Government of Malawi.
Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume hailed Plan Malawi and its implementing partners for the good work being done to make Malawi attain ODF status by 2017.
Kumpalume urged the beneficiary communities to use the improved toilets with lids and hand washing facilities to avoid communicable diseases.
“We are losing K8.5 billion (about $13.2million) out of the K17 billion (about $26.5million) budget we receive from government to communicable diseases that could be avoided if all of us would be using improved toilets.
“It is my appeal to traditional leaders to ensure improved toilets are being fully utilised because Malawi can attain ODF status by 2017 if all of us work together,” said Kumpalume.
Alice Chapuma, Plan Malawi support manager, said the beneficiary districts were selected because of poor sanitation.
Concern Universal monitoring and evaluation coordinator, Marie Mapemba, outlined her organisation’s achievements particularly in Traditional Authority (T/A) Amidu in Balaka.
“We have constructed 800 VIP improved latrines in over 300 schools, reaching 90 000 pupils, trained 60 area mechanics and shop keepers, trained 3 000 water points committees and reached out to 850 000 people in seven districts,” said Mapemba.
Masauko Mthunzi chief of Wash in Phalombe said before the programme, most people were using the bush thereby transmitting communicable diseases because they had no information on sanitation and hygiene.
“Now we are happy in all 72 villages in T/A Kaduya are using improved toilets. My appeal is for them to keep on using them and take ownership of them.
“The problem we have is that people take this as a government initiative, not theirs,” said Mthunzi.
Plan Malawi programme manager Mike Khoza said out of 260 T/As in Balaka, only nine have achieved ODF status. However, he was optimistic that by December, the remaining areas would have achieved ODF status and by June 2017 the whole country will attain ODF status.
“As Plan Malawi we are impressed with how communities are implementing sanitation and hygiene in the districts,” said Khoza.