The WASH sector in Malawi has for decades been characterized with several challenges. Poor funding, lack of political prioritization, luxuriously taxing WASH facilities, politicizing WASH facilities, lack of institutional arrangement thus no WASH stand-alone Ministry and dissolving the key national coordination platform-The WASH Cluster, inadequate resources just to mention a few.

Southern Region Water Officer Lab technician illustrating how the improvised weight room operates

Kasungu district hospital latrine

District Water Monitoring Assistant on duty

We had lost the way. It sometimes felt like we needed to stop and ask for directions.

As a WASH advocate we knew we were at war.  WESNetwork secretariat and its members soldiered up.

We deployed our best weapons. Press briefings, publications, delivered petitions, high level meetings and peaceful demonstrations.   Both human and financial resources were pulled in one basket.

The journey was long and sometimes risky, but it was worthy it.

The new year gift was unwrapped on  27 January 2022.

The Water and Sanitation Ministry was instituted by the Head of State.

On 18th February 2022, a day after our last engagement with the women parliamentary caucus where we specifically lobbied for tax exemption on sanitary pads & cups and removal of VAT on drinking water, VAT on sanitary pads and on drinking water was removed. The Minister of Finance and Economic affairs announced while presenting the National budget in parliament.

As a network, the news was and still is amusing. We  however, understand that a WASH stand-alone Ministry alone is not enough to change systems and improve service delivery; no VAT and exercise duty on sanitary pads does not guarantee affordability and accessibility.  We are yet to embark on more lobbing to ensure that the impact and benefit trickles down to the local beneficially thus; the girls, women and communities.

On a special note, WESNetwork secretariat congratulates and appreciates all members and partners that have been part and parcel of the journey.