By Charles K Mark
The governments of South Sudan and Malawi, in a major step to ensure universal access to water and sanitation, announced this week the launch of Presidential Compacts on Water and Sanitation.
The announcement was made at Stockholm World Water Week, amid thousands of international leaders and experts who assembled to address the water and sanitation crisis.
This is according to a press statement issued by the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) seen by this outlet.
Presidential Compacts on Water and Sanitation mark a significant step forward in improving public health, ending open defecation, and increasing climate resilience.
The Compacts are built upon clear commitments that encompass increased budget allocations, innovative sources of financing, and comprehensive plans for the construction of vital water and sanitation infrastructure.
The press release extended to this outlet revealed that Malawi will use the support of US$145 million in funding received from the World Bank and that the Compact will provide a blueprint for rebuilding water and sanitation infrastructure and enhancing climate resiliency following the devastation from Cyclone Freddy.
Furthermore, South Sudan will exhaust its allocation of 56 million US dollars, equivalent to nearly 2% of the country’s GDP, to bolster the Compact strategies, which include empowering communities to end open defecation by 2030.
The joint statement explained that the compacts are part of the “Heads of State Initiatives” project, a groundbreaking effort aimed at advancing water and sanitation services worldwide.
This was jointly launched by the Government of the Netherlands, IRC WASH, the UN-hosted Sanitation and Water for All global partnership (SWA), and UNICEF.
The partners serving in an advisory capacity to the Compacts will also provide critical technical expertise and coordinated advocacy.
Partners in the recently announced pact are the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the UN’s Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF); they commended the move by both countries.
Patrick Moriarty, Chief Executive Officer, International Rescue Committee (IRC) WASH, said, clean, safe drinking water and safely managed sanitation services aren’t just human rights; they are fundamental building blocks for human and economic development and resilience in the face of climate change.
“They are fundamental to any country’s development and need to be given the highest priority, championed by heads of state, and prioritized around the cabinet table,” Moriarty emphasized this in a statement.
Additionally, Nigeria announced its intention to serve as a Compact mentor, providing its expertise in engaging heads of state to ensure the prioritization of water and sanitation.
On her part, Catarina de Albuquerque, CEO of SWA, said, “To achieve water and sanitation for all by 2030, we’ll need a roughly six-fold increase in current rates of progress worldwide. However, we won’t get there without ambition, action, and accountability from presidents and prime ministers.”
She added that clean water and sanitation are fundamental human rights and essential for achieving secure, stable, and resilient futures for every country.
“These compacts demonstrate a collective commitment to transforming the lives of millions.” Catarina Continued.
Water stress due to climatic hazards such as extreme droughts and floods is affecting many countries, limiting their access to clean drinking water.