6 October 2017

Malawi: Communities and Traditional Leaders Crucial in Attaining 100 Per Cent ODF

Photo: GorillaSushi/Flickr
(File photo).

Kasungu — As more and more Traditional Authorities (TA) in the country are attaining Open Defecation Free (ODF) status, Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi noted that it is encouraging to see that traditional leaders and communities are playing important roles.

Speaking on Wednesday in Kasungu at Kafukule Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) ground during the ODF celebrations for TA Kaphaizi, Sub TA (STAs) Mphomwa and Mangwazu, the Minister said communities and traditional leaders could do more in preventing ill health that is why his ministry is happy that chiefs and the community have played an important role in attaining ODF status.

"60 TAs in the country have achieved ODF status but there is a lot more that can be done by working together. It is very encouraging to see that this ODF programme is community based making sure that the communities and their leaders are taking important roles.

There is a lot more we can do together as communities and traditional leaders to prevent ill health and this is by being in the forefront in the communities using hygienic practices and not only waiting for government and health officials," Muluzi pointed out.

UNICEF's Communications Officer Doreen Matonga said the country could achieve 100 per cent ODF status but it all depend on empowering the traditional leaders and people to understand why they need sanitation facilities.

"A traditional leader commands a vast area and if it is possible in one TA to achieve this then it could be possible in all the TAs. If there is strong leadership at TA level or District level, ODF could be achieved in the country in the soonest future," she viewed.

One of the chiefs who have attained ODF in Kasungu, STA Mangwazu said coming from an episode of cholera outbreak in 2015/16 rainy season he thought he would be in the forefront in advancing good sanitation and hygienic practices.

"I lost about three people in 2016 after registering 26 cholera cases so when health officials approached us we welcomed the initiative that we should do away with open defecation and adopt good hygienic practices. I would not slide back but sustain this achievement," he narrated.

UNICEF has supported Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) initiatives that have helped in TAs achieving ODF status.

Out of 30 chiefs in Kasungu district 12 have achieved ODF status.

Currently, out of 263 TAs in the country 60 have attained ODF status.

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