First Lady of Republic of Sierra Leone, Madam Fatima Bio was officially unveiled in her appointment as African Champion for Sanitation and Hygiene for the African Ministers’ Council on water (AMCOW) – under the African Union on Thursday 27th May, 2021 at State House, Freetown.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, AMCOW Executive Secretary, Thomas Banda reiterated that First Lady was chosen because of her passion for gender equality and the empowerment of the vulnerable groups especially women and girls.

He said that these set of vulnerable groups (women and girls) are the most affected by the lack of access to sanitation and hygiene. “It is our sincere believe the passion with which the First Lady approaches. We have already heard about the Hands off our Girls Campaign and her contributions towards ensuring the organization of African

First Ladies for development creates greater impact across the continent will be used to raise the profile of sanitation in the African continent,” he averred.

He said that they are looking forward to working with her to strengthen advocacy and efforts in ensuring everyone around the continent has access to safety management of sanitation and hygiene. He said this could be achieved through strong advocacy for policy reforms, institutional reforms, increase financing and building human capacity for improving sanitation and hygiene services and improved safe drinking water services in Africa.

Giving her Acceptance Speech, Madam Fatima Maada Bio said that hygiene and sanitation is very important and therefore she wants to promise that her first appointment will be with the President His Excellency, Julius Maada Bio, Minister of health and Sanitation and Minister of Water Resources to start making Sierra leone the example that Africa need to see. She expressed gratitude to AMCOW for the appointment saying she is not only going to be working with one country but the African continent as a whole. “I am grateful that you see me fit enough to step into the foot of a whole lot of others. I know before me was President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Helen Sirleaf, so me coming in now, I will pick it from there and then I will make my own mark in promoting access to water and sanitation in Africa,” she said.

In his keynote speech, President Julius Maada congratulated his wife for the appointment and recognition by AMCOW saying Sierra Leone is very proud of the achievement through her selfless and committed leadership in advocacy for gender empowerment and protection of women against sexual and gender based violence. He said that the work of the First Lady is critical in achieving a continental and global aspiration to provide access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.He said that his government is looking forward to working with AMCOW Secretariat to strengthen the enabling environment, development infrastructure and improve the delivery of services of WASH Sector in the country and around Africa.