Malawi, South Sudan launch Presidential Compacts on Water and Sanitation

Malawi and South Sudan have launched Presidential Compacts on Water and Sanitation, a development that will ensure universal access to water and sanitation.

The compacts are part of the “Heads of State Initiatives” project, a groundbreaking effort aimed at advancing water and sanitation services worldwide, which was jointly launched during Stockholm World Water Week by the Government of the Netherlands, IRC WASH, the UN-hosted Sanitation and Water for All global partnership (SWA) and UNICEF.

Abdi--Empowering children with access to safe water and sanitation is not just a commitment, but a testament to a brighter, healthier future
Abdi–Empowering children with access to safe water and sanitation is not just a commitment, but a testament to a brighter, healthier future

The partners will serve in an advisory capacity to the Compacts, providing critical technical expertise and coordinated advocacy.

A joint statement from the partners say Presidential Compacts on Water and Sanitation mark a significant step forward in improving public health, ending open defecation, and increasing climate resiliency.

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.

According to the statement, Malawi’s key compact commitments include $145 million in funding received from the World Bank, with the Compact providing a blueprint for rebuilding water and sanitation infrastructure and enhancing climate resiliency following the devastation from Cyclone Freddy.

On the other hand, South Sudan has earmarked $56 million – equivalent to nearly two percent of the country’s GDP – to bolster their Compact strategies, which include empowering communities to end open defecation by 2030. They will also will expedite the passing of Water Bill 2014 to ensure a safe water supply.

At the same event at Stockholm World Water Week, which gathered thousands of international leaders and experts this week to address the water and sanitation crisis, 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.

Speaking at the launch event, the partners commended Malawi and South Sudan for the launch.

“Clean, safe drinking water and safely managed sanitation services aren’t just human rights, they’re 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, prioritized around the cabinet table,” said Chief Executive Officer for IRC WASH, Patrick Moriarty.

On her part, SWA Chief Executive Officer, Catarina de Albuquerque, said to achieve water and sanitation for all by 2030, they will 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. Clean water and sanitation are fundamental human rights and essential for achieving secure stable resilient futures for every country. These Compacts demonstrate a collective commitment to transforming the lives of millions,” she Albuquerque.

UNICEF Deputy Executive Director responsible for Programmes, Omar Abdi, said empowering children with access to safe water and sanitation is not just a commitment, but a testament to a brighter, healthier future.

“As governments unite in their pledge to increase access to these basic necessities, we provide not only access to safe water services and sanitation, but bridges to a world where children can thrive without the risk of waterborne disease or compromise their learning or safety while collecting water,” said Abdi.

In 2022, the Government of the Netherlands, IRC WASH, SWA and UNICEF jointly agreed to boost political leadership for water, sanitation and hygiene. Today, “Heads of State Initiatives” invite Presidents, Prime Ministers and Monarchs to drive forward progress on Sustainable Development Goal 6: clean water and sanitation for all. These efforts are supported by a dedicated combination of partners at global, regional, and national levels.

Stockholm World Water Week is the leading annual event on global water issues, organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). The event provides a platform for experts, decision-makers, and innovators to exchange ideas, foster new thinking, and develop solutions to the most pressing water-related challenges.


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