Maria Mutola former World 800m Athletics champion appointed WaterAid Global Ambassador

Posted by
Maureen Nkandu
1 September 2020
Mozambique, Our ambassadors
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WaterAid is delighted to announce the appointment of renowned athletics champion, Maria Mutola, as its Ambassador.

The nine times former World and Olympics athletic champion from Mozambique will play a key role in helping raise the profile of WaterAid, by pushing important messaging on the need for the private sector, governments and the international community to commit more resources to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). This is vital in the fight against COVID-19 and other diseases in African countries where there is poor access to clean water and decent toilets. In the least-developed countries around the world, nearly three quarters of people lack good hygiene at home (WHO/Unicef 2017).

Known as the Golden Girl of Africa, the former world champion runs the Maria Mutola Foundation for women and girls in her country, encouraging entrepreneurial skills and other empowerment projects. Her high-profile status will also assist with WaterAid’s fundraising initiatives and help reach out to various communities on hygiene behaviour change, empowering them to demand access to water and sanitation as a basic human right.

On her appointment, Maria said:

“It is an honour for me to be part of WaterAid’s important work, as an Ambassador. I am passionate about issues of poverty-reduction and particularly access to water and sanitation, as well as women and girl empowerment. Through the Maria Mutola Foundation we have been working on projects around WASH in schools to help remedy the dire situation in the country. I am happy that I will now be part of concerted global efforts to amplify these issues.”

In Mozambique, 46% of the population (about 13 million people) have no access to clean water, and only 35% have access to decent toilets. Children are worst affected by these challenges, with more than 2,500 deaths annually due to lack of clean water, decent sanitation and basic hygiene services.

WaterAid Regional Director for Southern Africa Robert Kampala said:

"Signing on Maria as one of our Ambassadors is a great pride to the organisation and the Southern Africa region in particular. She has phenomenal talent and influence and we will undoubtedly benefit tremendously through her messaging and advocating our cause."

Maria Mutola, aged 48, was born in Charmanculo on the outskirts of the Mozambican capital Maputo, an area with erratic water supply and few decent toilets. This issue has driven her passion to speak about poor service delivery in African countries. Maria always loved sport and achieved international fame at the Sydney 2000 Olympics when she became the first Mozambican ever to win the 800 metres. In total Maria went on to win nine world titles in the category.

Her first port of call will be to help raise awareness of the state of schools by participating in WaterAid's global Back to School event, on 2 September 2020.

Press contacts for further details and interview requests:

Maureen Nkandu, Regional Communications Manager, Southern Africa, [email protected] or call +27 836427590

Arao Jose Valoi, Communications Coordinator, WaterAid Mozambique, A[email protected] or call +258 840166142



WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 26.4 million people with clean water and 26.3 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit, follow @WaterAid or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook at

  • 785 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home.[1]
  • 2 billion people in the world – almost one in four – do not have a decent toilet of their own.[2]
  • Around 310,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's almost 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.[3]
  • Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.[4]
  • Just £15 can provide one person with clean water.[5]

[1] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[2] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[3] Prüss-Ustün et al. (2014) and The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2018)

[4] World Health organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage