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President Kagame urges countries to continue investing in sanitation

It was on the evening of Day Two that President Kagame, who had been unable to launch the Conference due to a busy schedule, that he hosted the 900 delegates to a dinner gala at Serena Hotel. The President was accompanied by the First Lady Jeannette Kagame.

"Your fruitful discussions will continue to raise awareness regarding sanitation. We are convinced that solutions will be found for any problems," he said.

The Head of State extended a note of appreciation to the organisers of the Conference for choosing Kigali to host AfricaSan3. He also expressed gratitude that Rwanda had been recognised as an example of quality in sanitation for which all aspires.

The President noted that the MDGs include sanitation for obvious reasons; because the lack of sanitation is a major cause of high mortality among children.

President Kagame urged countries to continue investing in sanitation. He called for the use of clean water and toilets. People need to get used to the practice of washing hands.

"Sanitation facilities are still inadequate. It is crucial to implement related policies to strengthen the capacity in place to achieve the goals," he stressed.

The Head of State also recognised the role the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who are important partners. He rallied delegates to work hard to meet the challenge of providing sanitation to their citizens.

During the gala, the Head of State awarded prizes to individuals and institutions described as the most deserving heroes of sanitation in Africa.

"Hand washing with soap has an impact on achieving the 4th Millennium Development Goal. This reduces to 2/3 the mortality rate for children under five by 2015," said the President.

Adopting the behaviour of washing hands in the five situations will help achieve health for all by 2030. To achieve this, there will be need to work with schools and health centres in rural areas.

More importantly, this initiative requires working with opinion leaders and artists, who could be a major mobilization tool for the population. This is why the multinational company Unilever has engaged South African veteran singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka.

Unilever has a lot of experience in the marketing of its brands such as soap in Kenya and Ghana. The singer is leading Unilever’s campaign on hand washing. The essence of the campaign is that by keeping hands clean, infections could be reduced.

In Kenya, Unilever is partnering with the Government to support the campaign to "Wash Your Hands". Unilever’s campaign has seen a million people getting facilities for washing their hands, thereby developing innovative programs in Africa. Unilever has been able to promote the hygiene for 300 million people in Africa. Estimates show that this initiative can save the lives of a million children, in line with the MDG 4 on children.

During the same evening gala, artist Chaka Chaka – also the Ambassador of Sanitation, asked the audience to raise their hands in unison solemnly proclaiming that they will advocate - nationally and internationally, for the washing of hands.  

As she sung the rhythm of the song "Umunani” or “must unite" which is in Zulu, her mother tongue, the artist Chaka Chaka stressed the need to change behaviour collectively in a community, a country and then in many other countries.

"I recognize that no single person can change the world alone. I appeal to all of you to do so together," she urged guests and AfricaSan3 delegates at the dinner. The “Wash Your Hands” champion and Ambassador was pleased to be in Kigali with Unilever.

"I travelled to villages in Kenya and Uganda, where women have no money to buy soap and wash their hands. Unilever gave them soap," she testified.

She added: "Yesterday I had a discussion with the Minister of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, a woman whose heart is where it is needed."

Chaka Chaka also spoke graciously about President Kagame, who has launched washing hands campaigns in Rwanda to reduce by 2/3 infant mortality.

Winners from Kigali AfricaSan3

Among the winners of the first category who have received awards for showing unmatched commitment and have come up with innovations included: President Paul Kagame; the Vice President of AMCOW and Zimbabwe's Minister of Water, Hon. Samuel Nkomo; and the Burkinabe Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, Hon. Laurent Sedogo.

The second category prize was awarded to the City of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and Professor Kairo ... for his research on sanitation.

Mali and Kenya also received awards for their ‘wash your hands’ campaigns. Mali was recognised for organizing an event in which 10,000 children have washed their hands at the sametime, and for carrying out the same program in 1470 schools.

The Ugandan Minister of Water and Environment, Hon. Betty ..., received the award for her country. Tanzania was also rewarded for encouraging public and private partnership in the promotion of sanitation.

During her encounter with the press, the veteran singer and sanitation goodwill envoy Chaka Chaka could not hide her excitement that AfricaSan3 was held in what she described as “a beautiful place like Kigali”. Chaka Chaka pointed out that she was encouraged by the political will of African leaders to provide sanitation facilities to their people.

"This is very important for the communities, especially that everyone is committed to promoting this sector," she said, adding: "We can prevent many diseases and other risks - including maternal and infant mortality."

Chaka Chaka congratulated Rwanda, which has a visionary leadership from whom the conference participants came to learn the best lessons in sanitation.

"For me, Rwanda demonstrated real commitment and it remains a model for the African continent," she said.

She expressed her desire to change people's perceptions on sanitation. This is how behavioural change can be reached. For her, we must work together to achieve proper performance.


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