Skip to main content

Published on: 23/03/2023


Minister Anxious Masuka Zimbabwe at the UN Water Conference 2023
Minister Anxious Masuka from Zimbabwe at the UN Water Conference 2023 (Photo: Tanya Bindra / SWA)

NEW YORK, 22 March 2023 – On the sidelines of the UN Water Conference, African Heads of State committed to five new Presidential Compacts which will accelerate access to water and sanitation services, including increasing budget allocations, reducing open defecation and delivering climate-resilient services.

The announcement took place at a meeting hosted by The Kingdom of the Netherlands, which is also a co-host of the UN Water Conference. Other conveners of the meeting were UNICEF, the UN-hosted Sanitation and Water for All global partnership (SWA), and think-tank IRC WASH.

In the presence of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands, during the opening of the event, Liesje Schreinemacher Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation expressed that she is committed to ‘‘following the lead of national governments, and through our partners UNICEF, SWA and IRC WASH, we support resilient national water, sanitation and hygiene systems capable of delivering safe and sustainable services to all.”

Key commitments made during the high-level meeting include:

  • Ethiopia: A Presidential Compact that will revise the loan policy and directives to accommodate loan access for water and sanitation for businesses and consumers. It will also strengthen accountability among water and sanitation stakeholders (policymakers, service providers and the community) and development partners through establishing a strong accountability framework which aligns with the ONEWASH National Programme.
  • Ghana: A Presidential Compact to establish a National Sanitation Authority, reduce inequalities in water and sanitation services, particularly in poor and rural communities, and make Ghana’s cities some of the cleanest in Africa.
  • Liberia: A Presidential Compact to increase access to basic sanitation by ending open defecation, as well as to create a unifying monitoring mechanism at all governance levels (national, county, district, and community) to improve institutional coordination.
  • Uganda: A Presidential Compact to increase public financing for water, sanitation and hygiene.
  • Zimbabwe: A Presidential Compact to create a State of Emergency on Water and Sanitation which will trigger budget and coordination prioritization.

These commitments were announced by President Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana, President George Manneh Weah of Liberia, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda and President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe.

They will be supported by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, UNICEF, SWA and IRC WASH.

Catarina de Albuquerque, CEO of SWA said: “We’re so pleased and encouraged to see these government leaders stepping up, committing, prioritizing water and sanitation at the highest levels and taking action and accountability for the human rights to water and sanitation. The only way to make sustainable change is through the political prioritization at the highest level that we see here today. SWA commits to mobilize our more than 350 partners to support and learn from these Presidential Compacts. Our vision is that these announcements will inspire other countries around the world.”

Patrick Moriarty, CEO of IRC WASH said: “As an organization, we have long championed the transformation of national systems to deliver the human right to safe water and sanitation for everyone, everywhere, and forever. Yet we also know that a truly transformative agenda for national systems strengthening can only follow visionary national leadership – from the highest political level. What we have seen today in this room is an inspiring example of such visionary political leadership and we commit to follow and support it in whatever ways we can.”


In March 2023, the world will come together in New York during the UN 2023 Water Conference. The Conference is convened by the UN General Assembly. The Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Republic of Tajikistan, co-hosts of the Conference, are committed to making the Conference a watershed moment that will bring stakeholders from all sectors together and will create a global momentum for accelerated implementation and improved impact to advance the broad challenges surrounding water. The Conference’s Water Action Agenda encourages Member States and other stakeholders across all sectors, industries, and interests to make voluntary commitments to address global water challenges. For more information visit:


IRC is an international think tank actively building strong water, sanitation and hygiene systems – from the bottom up and the top down. IRC exists to support countries to build strong local and national services, underpinned by resilient systems, that transform lives and build equity, justice and opportunity for all.


SWA is a United Nations-hosted partnership working towards a joint objective of water, sanitation, and hygiene for all. Its partners include governments, utilities, regulators, donors, financial institutions, UN agencies, civil society and research organizations and the private sector. For more information, visit


UNICEF works in some of the world's toughest places, to reach the world's most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work, visit: Follow UNICEF on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube

Christine Luby
Media Relations
Sanitation and Water for All (SWA)


Back to
the top