——Luapula Province Permanent Secretary, Mbololwa Muyaba, has called for increased access to quality water and sanitation services in the province.
Mrs Muyaba made the call during the Chiefs’ Awareness Meeting on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at Teja Executive Lodge in Mansa.
She said the water and sanitation sector was one of the six priority social sectors in that National Development Plans with only 37 per cent of the rural population having access to water and only 13 per cent to sanitation.
Mrs Muyaba called for commitment to the achievement of meeting the set target of improving access to sanitation to 60 per cent and water to 75 per cent of the rural population by 2015.
The Permanent Secretary said there was need to devise good policies, institutional and legal frameworks for implementation which should be adequately funded in order to achieve the set targets in the sector.
Mrs Muyaba said it was important for chiefs to understand various water and sanitation sector visions and programmes in order for them to participate in monitoring and lobbying to ensure appreciable delivery in the sector.
She added that chiefs should play a key role in mobilising communities to adopt good sanitation and hygiene practices which should contribute to the success of wash projects.
She added that Chiefs should be lobbying and influencing policies and budget allocations on social issues that affect their subjects.
Mrs Muyaba said Chiefs were the custodians of traditional land and presided over all affairs within their chiefdoms which was a position of authority.
She said the involvement of Chiefs in community projects was critical for their success.
The Permanent Secretary noted that the successful implementation of water and sanitation projects and programmes should revolve around their effective leadership.
She thanked Water Aid for the meeting which brought together Senior Chief Mwewa of the Ngumbo people of Samfya District, Senior Chief Kalasa Mukoso of the Kabenda people of Samfya district, Chiefs Lukwesa and Lubunda of the Lunda people of Mwense District, Chieftainess Mwenda of the newly created Chipili District, and Chief Mwansakombe of the Ngumbo people of Samfya among others.
And speaking on behalf of other chiefs, Senior Chief Mwewa said government should consider Luapula as a priority province to benefit from the K783 billion allocated to the water and sanitation sector because Luapula was the least province in the country on issues of safe water and sanitation.
Senior Chief Mwewa said Chiefs were appealing to government to put in place practical measures that would make safe drinking water available to the people in the province which would result in the reduction of diarrhoeal cases.
He said it was sad to note that Luapula recorded the highest Under Five mortality because of poor quality of drinking water and inadequate sanitation.
The traditional ruler said safe drinking water and sanitation was a human right which government must make available for the people in the province through effective and practical interventions and programmes.
The Senior Chief also called for the involvement of Chiefs in the distribution of water points in their chiefdoms because it has been observed in the past that same communities have been benefiting from projects at the expense of the needy communities.
Senior Chief Mwewa said the sad trend has flourished because Chiefs were not involved in the process of Identification and Needs Assessment so that the projects could be placed in areas where the need was critical.