President Marc Ravalomanana of Madagascar [was] the only president in the world who [attended] the World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden. About 2500 experts and government leaders are here discussing all kinds of issues and experiences relating to water.
At the opening session of the conference President Ravalomanna said he had set sanitation and safe drinking water problem as the top priority to tackle.
According to a national plan which is called MAP, the goal is by the year 2012 to ensure safe access to drinking water for 65% of the population and good sanitation facilities for 71% of the population.
“There is not one exclusive situation in Madagascar, at least there are 1500 very different situations. For instance, the situation in the driest areas in the southern part of Madagascar is very different from the situation in the most humid rainy areas in the vanilla region, in the East of Madagascar,” said the president.
The country doesn’t have any modern water supply facilities, but only some are connected with pipes in their houses while others get water from drinking fountains located on street corners. Many women and children are still spending a lot of time and energy to fetch water from rivers which are not very safe.
Another reason for the difficulty is that in different areas there are many different taboos and the government must work closely with chiefs to modify or discard practices that actually harm the people or slow down the development.
Facing great challenges in many aspects in development, the Madagascar President identifies sanitation and water supply as priority and have taken a series of measures to solve the problem.
First he created just two weeks ago a Ministry for Water and Sanitation which would dedicate exclusively to drinking water, environmental sanitation and water resource management.. Before these duties were in the Ministries of Health and Energy. “This will provide clear leadership, strategy and resources,” said the President.
He said his government is ready to establish partnerships with private sectors and international organizations.
And one of the big successful stories is the national WASH coalition. The key WASH messages are taught in schools. The children learn proper sanitation techniques and go home and teach their families. It is very successful.
“The message is not as complicated as making a rocket, it is as simple as telling children to wash hands with soap and teach people to drill wells,” claimed the President.
The country also made a law-The Water Act which defines roles and responsibilities for the public and private sectors, sets technical standards and provides a policy framework.
Madagascar is one of the first pilot countries to benefit from the Global Sanitation Fund.
Source: Xuefei Chen, People’s Daily Online – http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90777/90855/6481230.html, 20 Aug 2008