Community leaders from central provinces recognized by Government for their role in eliminating open defecation

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GONDOLA, Mozambique, 28 April 2011 – In a high-level ceremony in Manica last Thursday, some 282 community leaders from the central provinces of Tete, Manica and Sofala were recognized for their important role in the construction and use of latrines and in the adoption of healthy hygiene habits, which include the total elimination of open defecation, within their communities.

The community leaders were praised for their efforts in promoting behavior change among their fellow community members. The ceremony was honored by the presence of the Minister of Public Works and Housing Mr. Cadmiel Muthemba, the Governor of Manica Province Ms. Ana Comuana and other prominent figures. Dr. Roberto de Bernardi, Deputy Representative, and Dr. Samuel Godfrey, Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, represented UNICEF Mozambique. The event took place in Gondola, Manica, within the framework of the fifth annual planning and review meeting of the One Million initiative, a program aimed at providing safe water and sanitation to one million people by 2013.

“It is the Government’s responsibility to create the conditions necessary for the well-being for all its citizens,” the Minister said in his address to the community leaders assembled at the One Million meeting.

“We are supported by others in our efforts to improve conditions, but we need to be clear that the responsibility to sustain the gains we make rests in our own hands, in the hands of Mozambicans,” the Minister continued, referring to the important need to sustain water and sanitation efforts over time, especially through increased community ownership and involvement.

The Minister expressed his sincere thanks to both the Government of the Netherlands and UNICEF for their, in his words, many efforts to improve the lives of Mozambicans. He said that it was an objective of the Government to expand the water and sanitation efforts under the One Million program to the whole country, within the financial and other limitations that exist, and that water and sanitation represented a key priority for the Government.

“Numbers don’t lie,” Dr. Roberto de Bernardi of UNICEF said in his opening remarks, referring to the number of communities and people reached with safe water and sanitation through the One Million program. So far in the program, some 433 communities across the three central provinces have been declared and certified as open defecation free – with all community members using latrines. In his speech to the community leaders, Dr. de Bernardi emphasized the importance of collaboration and collective effort.

“Partnership and collaboration are essential in these efforts, and we hope the positive cooperation that exists between everyone involved will continue in the future,” said Dr. de Bernardi. He went on to thank the provincial, district and community leaders for their work in promoting safe water and sanitation practices.

During the award ceremony, community representatives received bicycles and certificates and got to meet the Minister, the Governor and UNICEF representatives. A small concert took place and a rich buffet was served before the community leaders returned to their homes. The meeting was well covered by both national and local media, as well as by an international UNICEF film crew that met the community leader of Dewe village and followed him that day, from his home in the village on his journey to meet with the Minister. The two men met and had a nice conversation. It was the first time the community leader met a Government minister, and it was the first time the Minister met a man from Dewe.

For more information, please contact:

Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: