12 May 2003

Mozambique: Meeting On National Sanitation Strategy

Maputo — The Mozambican Ministry of Public Works and Housing is drafting a national integrated sanitation strategy, in order to help reduce the incidence of diseases associated with inadequate water supply and poor sanitation practices.

With this end in mind, Public Works Minister Roberto White on Monday opened a National Meeting on Sanitation in Maputo, at which he argued that major public health problems of developing countries can be solved through the correct management of water, sanitation and hygiene. "One of the challenges of this meeting is to recognise, in our territory, and in our social, cultural and economic spaces, the most profound links between water, sanitation and hygiene, and from this draw up a national integrated strategy", White said.

The first strategic step, he added, would be to ensure coordination and harmonisation between the various public and private institutions involved in these areas.

He stressed that powers in the sphere of sanitation should be further decentralised, and that the technological solutions used must be in line with the socio-economic and cultural environment of the target population.

Recognising the importance of children in transmitting knowledge acquired at school on to the other members of their families, White said there should be a joint programme with the Education Ministry, so as to include hygiene education in the teacher training curriculum.

White stressed that Mozambique's sanitation problems are not due merely to a lack of infrastructures. "We have valuable infrastructures that are not maintained", he said. "We have problems of the way in which land is occupied, which not only cause sanitation problems, but lead to erosion and flooding".

The Minister stressed the need to correct both individual and collective behaviour, in order to protect the environment and safeguard public health.

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