Hon. Brende, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am glad that I was able to join with you this afternoon at the launch of the Brazil’s national WASH campaign, being launched by UN-HABITAT’s partners in Brazil. I congratulate the Water and Sanitation Collaborative Council, its Executive Director Gouri Ghosh and the regional coordinator Ana Machado for working closely with UN-HABITAT to bring WASH to Latin America and the Caribbean.
The most important contribution of WASH has been to bring sanitation and hygiene under the spotlight among the policy makers. Statistics indicate that some 36 per cent of water related sicknesses can be contributed to inadequate sanitation, some 35 per cent to water and its quality, while hand washing can reduce sicknesses by 35 per cent.
But in the favelas and bairros of Rio, as you know too well, sanitation gives much more than health to women - it gives them safety and dignity.
Hygiene brings water and sanitation together and helps to get the most out of water and sanitation. So, we cannot look at them in an isolated manner.
WASH is indeed an innovative initiative that has helped a great deal to raise awareness of the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene among policy-makers, professionals and the media since it was first launched in Bonn during the Ministerial Water Conference two years ago.
UN-HABITAT has worked closely with the Collaborative Council and its partners from the very inception of WASH. I joined Sir Richard Jolly, the Chairman of the Collaborative Council and Hon. Ronnie Kasrils, the Minister for Water Affairs of South Africa during the WASH launch in New York in early 2002, during the Preparatory Committee meetings for the Johannesburg Summit. There we strategised together on ways to take the water, sanitation and hygiene issues to the top of the political agenda in Johannesburg. I am truly happy that through this collective effort of all our partners Water, sanitation and hygiene got its due recognition at the World Summit on Sustainable Development and now we have clear targets to work for.
In April last year, UN-HABITAT and the Collaborative Council jointly launched the Urban Wash Campaign in Africa during the first Global Urban Forum held in Nairobi. I am therefore particularly pleased that our joint effort has led to brining WASH now to Latin America and the Caribbean.
I would expect that our Brazilian partners take full ownership of this campaign and take this campaign from Rio to hundreds of other cities and towns in Brazil.
I wish the WASH campaign all success.