Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Day 3: It ain't over 'til it's over

1540 GMT

Most toilets flush in the key of E Flat. Allegedly. I don't know who worked that out. Slow day at the office? And obviously that might not apply in Japan, where (as mentioned already) toilets come with a full orchestral background.

So what's the final verdict? And what's next?

As always with the G8 it's a mixed bag: a bemusing combination of warm words, cold hearts, closed wallets and promised lands. Not everything you want but still just enough to hold out hope that serious progress is just around the corner, just as long as we can pin them down once and for all... Maybe its like nailing jelly to the wall - it will cause a mess, people will be annoyed, it won't work out as you hoped, but something will stick.

Anyway, enough of the rubbish metaphors. Of course, we didn't get everything we wanted - no global action plan, no new money, no end to the crisis in sight just yet.

But does that mean the effort wasn't worth it, and does that mean we should all give up? Of course not. This last week we have seen some genuine progress, even if it's quite clearly not enough. Sanitation and water has been discussed at the top-table for the first time in years, and the commitments could - maybe, if we follow it up right - be the start of a process that puts sanitation and water at the centre of efforts to boost health and combat poverty.

Whilst we don't have a solution to the sanitation crisis this week, we do have a better platform from which to go forward - more commitments, greater recognition, more allies and the promise of a process that starts now, stops off at the UN in September, reports at the G8 in Italy next year, and continues onwards.

We have also built critical momentum. Leaders across Africa and Asia have promised to step up efforts to tackle the sanitation crisis, and G8 leaders now have too. And there is a growing public movement backing this up - 940,000 of you taking action in support of the campaign so far. There is no doubt that this made a difference, no doubt it has to continue.

And media too - reports in the BBC, Financial Times, Guardian, Independent, Lancet, Ghanaian Times, and many more show the silence on sanitation is finally being broken.

And what's next? More work, more campaigning, more toilet puns. Obviously. This G8 has not been flushed with success, we're still waiting for them to spend a penny (or more), but there is no doubt that we're on a (toilet) roll...

Looking forward we have a couple of key moments ahead, not least at the UN in September. This will be when all the world's leaders - not just those privileged enough to eat caviar and sea-urchin in Japan - will gather to agree measures to try and save the Millennium Development Goals.

This is crucial, and getting a focus on sanitation here could be the next small victory on the way to one day ending the sanitation crisis.

It shouldn't be this hard for everyone to have access to a safe toilet, shouldn't be so difficult to prevent over 2 million kids dying each year from such preventable causes, but for some reason it is. And it's our job to convince them.

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