President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has lamented failure by the previous administrations to prioritize access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene for Malawians.
Chakwera said it was a shame for a country in the 21st century to be so preoccupied with luxuries that benefit the few when the many do not even have basics like clean water.
The Malawi leader made the sentiments when he commissioned the raised and rehabilitated Kamuzu Dam 1 at Malingunde in the outskirts of the City of Lilongwe.
“When I got into office three years ago, one of my first missions was to set our country’s priorities straight. It made no sense to me that before I became President, government after government was passing budget after budget without adequate allocation of funds to the most basic things that the majority of Malawians lack on a daily basis. One of those basics is access to clean water. The situation, as I understood it, had been very pathetic for a long time. For a long time, one in three Malawians had zero access to clean water service delivery, while those with access to sanitation has been less than 30 percent,” said Chakwera.
He added, “And considering that Sustainable Development Goal number 6 sets the year 2030 as the target for universal access to clean water, I was alarmed by the lack of urgency to reverse things. What made the situation even more pathetic is that the low access to clean water by Malawians was not the result of lack of water. Malawi is not a desert country. Over 20 percent of our country is covered by water resources. And these water resources are diverse, from the majestic Lake Malawi, which is Africa’s third-largest freshwater lake, and Lakes Malombe and Chilwa, to the glistening and winding beauty of the Shire and numerous other rivers.”
Chakwera observed that the problem Malawi has had is the lack of proper management of those water resources as a matter of priority and urgency and that his government was determined to change this status quo.
Turning to Malawi 2063 Vision, the President challenged that there was no way Malawi can reach the promised land of becoming an inclusively wealthy self-reliant and industrialized nation without ensuring that there was equitable access to one of the greatest riches Malawi has in abundance: water.
He said this is why his administration tripled the budget allocation for the management of the country’s water resources, and also created a standalone ministry to oversee the implementation of our ambitious Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of reaching 100 percent water and sanitation access by 2030.
“In our determined pursuit of this goal, it is befitting that on this historic day, we have gathered here to commission the Raised and Rehabilitated Kamuzu Dam 1. I must therefore commend the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Honourable Abida Mia, MP, her technical officials, and the Lilongwe Water Board, for the tireless effort they have put in to achieve this milestone,” he said.
President Chakwera thanked partners such as the European Investment Bank (EIB for availing the generous resources that have made the rehabilitation and raising of the dam possible. He also commended ) World Bank and Lilongwe Water Board for financing the Lilongwe Water and Sanitation Project, under which the Malingunde Water Supply System is being implemented.
He assured that his administration will continue the Lilongwe Water Board’s implementation of the Lilongwe Water Resource Efficiency Programme, the Lilongwe Water and Sanitation Project and the Project for Strengthening the Capacity to Manage Non-Revenue Water, Southern Region Water Board’s implementation of the Nkhudzi Bay Water Supply Project in Mangochi and the Chikwawa, Ngabu, Nchalo and Bangula Water Supply Upgrading projects.
The government, he continued, will also go on with the implementation of Northern Region Water Board’s Nkhatabay Water Supply and Sanitation Project and the Karonga Water Supply Project, the Blantyre Water Board’s implementation of the Malawi Water and Sanitation Project, as well as the Dowa Water Supply Upgrading Project, which will soon be implemented under Central Region Water Board.
“With your support, we will continue the implementation of the Malawi Watershed Services Improvement Project alongside the Malawi Resilience and Drought Risk Management Project and the Solar Powered High Yielding Boreholes Programme. All these projects happening at the same time across the country is a testament to my Administration’s determination to achieve universal water access in Malawi by 2030. And every time we successfully complete one project, it is good for us to celebrate as we are doing today. But we are not just here to celebrate the completion of this project. We are also here to renew our commitment to continue the projects that are still in progress until they are completed. Even in sectors beyond water and sanitation, there are many projects across the country making steady progress,” said Chakwera.