Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Day 2 at the G8

0630 GMT

Before the whole G8 business, ponder this: 1 month ago NASA spent $450m launching a space mission in order to fix broken toilet on the International Space Station. It spends less than 4 times this amount on sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa...

Back on earth, at the G8 summit, coverage of yesterday's outreach with African countries focused largely on Zimbabwe, although water and sanitation was raised alongside the food crisis as priority areas by the African leaders. Other hot topics around the summit appear to be the food crisis, oil prices, the state of the world economy, climate change and fears of backtracking on previous aid and HIV commitments.

(as i write this the documents on the world economy have been released)

As we get closer to the main announcement on Africa - probably happening late this afternoon (Japan time) - it has become increasingly clear how negotiations have watered down proposals on tackling the water and sanitation crisis. Comparing leaked drafts of the G8 communique dated before and after key negotiation meeting shows how proposals to establish an annual review and meeting to drive global progress were vetoed.

We'll have to see what comes out in the end but brace yourselves for ambiguity. On the one hand there will be positive recognition of the issue's importance and some hope for future processes. But on the other, don't expect a detailed action plan to end the crisis once and for all - or access to the G8 bank account - just yet... I'm more likely to be flying to the moon to fix a toilet.

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