By Justice Mponda and Gloria Masanza**
• becomes the first signatory of the campaign
Malawi First Lady Madame Gertrude Mutharika on Thursday launched a global campaign which seeks to provide political leadership on the provision of water and sanitation services to people who do not have access to such services.
Mutharika launched the campaign at a dinner hosted by Global Poverty Project, an arm of the World Bank to increase global and political voices to achieve commitment and action to end poverty at least by 2030.
She was accompanied by the First Lady of Madagascar said the campaign has come at an opportune time as the world is currently reviewing the Millennium Development Goals.
“For us in Malawi, it also resonates very well with the Beautify Malawi Trust initiatives that I am championing. Time is ripe for global leaders to come together and push for the prioritization of the water and sanitation agenda in the new commitments that will enable eradication of poverty by 2030,” Mutharika said.
“Today, we have the confidence that this auspicious event will have real impact in redefining the water and sanitation agenda at global and country level,” she added.
The First Lady disclosed that a considerable number of Malawi’s population do not have access to sanitary facilities.
“The severity of this deficiency is more apparent in low-income areas. The impact of this poor sanitation and unsafe water on health, education and economic progress is undeniable,” added Mutharika.
She told the gathering that every year some Malawians along with other global citizens are subjected to diarrheal-related deaths of which a good percentage is under five children.
“There is an economic cost; where Malawi and other developing countries lose billions of dollars annually due to effects of using unsafe water and poor sanitation through high medical bills and loss of productive hours.”
“Unsafe water and poor sanitation diminishes productive potency, increases deprivation and exacerbates poverty.” she added.
At the launch of the campaign, Mutharika became the first high profile figure to sign her commitment to ending poverty by among other areas, improving access to water and sanitation services among the most vulnerable communities.
Senior Manager for Global Poverty Project Michael Sheldrick said it was vital for high ranking and global figures to take a leading role in campaign that aim to uplift the livelihood of the underpriviledged.
He also commended Mutharika for her efforts under the Beautify Malawi Trust-BEAM to create awareness on the need to manage waste, cleaner environment and protect themselves from diseases.
Other leaders who have made their declaration and commitment include, the First Lady of Madagascar, Lalao Rajaonarimampianina, Junaid Ahmad who leads the World Bank Group’s Water Global Practices, and Geeta Rao Gupta the vice president for UNICEF.
**Authors are Presidential Press Officers