World Vision International Malawi (WVI) has challenged villagers, through the leadership of their chiefs under Traditional Authority (T/A) Chulu in Kasungu, Malawi, to make sure that Chulu champions the Open Defecation Free (ODF) campaign which was launched in June this year, under the Mutchenda Greenfield sanitation and hygiene promotion programme.

The campaign aims to end open defecation by 2015 and ensure that everybody in the area of T/A Chulu has a well-constructed toilet and other hand washing facilities, thereby enhancing sanitation and hygiene.

ODF environments are possible when local leaders are in the forefront of making sure that their subjects have good toilets and are practicing hygienic standards in their communities. By promoting hygienic standards, a healthier and developed society is established due to the elimination of waterborne diseases which when curbed, leave people energetic, healthier, and ready to contribute productively to society.

Acting Traditional Authority Chulu whose people are to benefit from the Water and Sanitation Health (WASH) programme, has said he and other chiefs are ready to set an example in championing the ODF campaign. ‘As residents of Chulu collaboratively with the organisation have joined hands in making sure that our communities are healthier at all times through sanitation and hygiene promotion in homes, the chiefs themselves will be in the lead. If we as chiefs take a leading role and remain as role models to our subjects, everything is possible because the communities look up to us, henceforth they would follow suit’, Chief Chulu said.

The chief said that every chief under his jurisdiction is to have a toilet, well-constructed hand washing facilities, dust bin, kitchen and other crucial sanitation supporting tools at their homes, to set an example to the subjects and for a healthier community. Chief Chulu further said, ‘Whosoever does not abide by this directive from me is subject to pay a fine of a chicken or a goat. All this is not to punish them but to help in bringing sanity to our homes for a better nation’.

The WASH Development Facilitator at WVI’s Kasungu Office, Alijeao Nyemera  Nkhonjera,  told the Malawi News Agency (Mana) about the projects 16 Village Development Committees (VDC). Nkhonjera said, ‘The VDC’s are to spread the message to various village headmen who would take a leading role in the campaign so that their communities reduce waterborne diseases’.

‘We are sensitising people on the ODF strategy. We are telling them about the sanitary facilities that they should have at household level and that they should be aware of critical hygiene behaviour’, she continued, applauding the collaboration efforts of all concerned stakeholders and the local leaders who have been at the forefront of urging their subjects and communities to refrain from open defecation.

The three-year K300 million funded Water and Sanitation Health (WASH) project, Mutchenda Greenfield sanitation and hygiene programme, started in 2013 and which will be closed out in 2015, is expected to benefit a total population of over 21,000 people in the area of Chief Chulu.

Mana has established that through the WASH activities, WVI has so far drilled 29 boreholes since 2013 when it started implementing activities in Chulu. WVI expects to drill additional 61 boreholes by 2015. Moreover, it is carrying out maintenance work on damaged boreholes. The organisation is also sensitising 12 primary schools to sanitation and hygiene issues, and will construct modern latrines in the said schools.

Mana reports indicate that recently, Traditional Authority Mwase of Kasungu was named ODF Ambassador by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) as his area surpassed other areas in different districts in sanitation and hygiene issues under the WASH programme.

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