Malawi’s Ministry of Water Development and Irrigation has emphasised the need for government and other relevant stakeholders to address poor sanitation to achieve an Open Defecation Free (OF) Malawi come 2015.
In 2010, Malawi developed an ODF Malawi 2015 Strategy to ensure complete elimination of open defecation in Malawi by 2015.
Director of sanitation and hygiene in the Ministry of Water Development and Irrigation, McLawrence Mpasa told Malawi News Agency (Mana) that issues of sanitation and hygiene have a huge impact in as far as achieving ODF is concerned.
He said sanitation is a vital component in achieving ODF and, as such, it should be encouraged in communities.
“We have to ensure that sanitation measures are available to all Malawians. In addition, we need to practise safe hygiene as well as recycling and re-using waste,” he said.
He said increasing access to basic sanitation and use of safe hygiene practices are crucial to the prevention of future diarrhoea and cholera cases.
Open defecation is said to be a leading cause of diarrheal diseases which pose a significant health risk for the rural population and account for 18 percent of deaths each year in children under the age of five.
He cited a case in the Central Malawi district of Dowa where communities are using water from an open source, a cycle he said needs to be broken.
Despite challenges faced in implementing an ODF Malawi by 2015, Mpasa said ODF is achievable with a comprehensive nationwide strategy in place.
Recently, stakeholders from all the 28 districts in the country met in Lilongwe at a workshop to review the ODF status. Review meetings will be held once every year to assess progress and share experiences.
Eight percent of the population in the country still defecates in the open.
In December, 2011 sanitation stakeholders, including government, religious and traditional leaders, non-governmental organisations and community members, met at Chipochongo Village in Lilongwe to launch the ODF Malawi Strategy 2015 which marked the beginning of a four-year journey to eliminate open defecation.—Mana